Paying to play console games online sucks. Having to pay a fee on top of cable services feels like an opportunistic tactic that system manufacturers institute to get even more money out of their consumers’ already thin wallet. As antagonizing as this sales measure is, Sony and Microsoft have tried to ameliorate the conditions in which they both do business, offering games with their respective PlayStation Plus and Xbox Live Gold subscription services.
Its safe to say that each has turned the tide of distaste elicited from consumers when they found out the services would be mandatory for online play. This changing attitude is evident today in the reaction PlayStation users are having with the announcement of next month’s PlayStation Plus offerings, which includes the likes of the critically acclaimed Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain and the Amnesia Collection. The good news almost makes you forget that you’re paying for online play. Almost.
Having a well-known, high profile title join the Plus catalogue is a huge boon for PlayStation and its consumers, but it hasn’t always been this way. In fact, since the PlayStation 4’s debut in 2013, fans have frequently criticized Plus as offering very little in the way of value from a games perspective, with indie titles becoming a showcase mainstay up until this year. Though not bad games by any stretch of the imagination, 2014, 2015, and 2016’s selection of Plus games just didn’t garner the wide market appeal that Just Cause 3, Until Dawn, and Metal Gear Solid V have, and weren’t totally respected by the Plus membership.
What fans are experiencing now is something not unlike what the Plus community experienced back in the PlayStation 3 era. Though an argument can be had that Plus always included great titles when it was only offering PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita games, it’s important to keep in mind that the service (which was optional back then) was introduced midway through that home console generation. It seems as though the console’s successor, the PlayStation 4, is now also midway through its life cycle, thus is accumulating a great pool of games it can offer as part of PlayStation Plus.
So why is it important for PlayStation to keep offering a selection of popular titles to Plus subscribers? For one thing, Sony now has the ability to keep up with demand. Gaming consumers are well educated and versed enough in a generation’s releases to know if they’re being offered something worthwhile. The time has come for PlayStation Plus to truly deliver on the promises of PlayStation 4’s fantastic library and show what the system can really do. It has the attention, now it just needs to maintain it.
For another, Sony must continuously ensure that it washes out the bad taste from consumers’ mouths in regards to the fact that they’re paying for the service to play online. Having media outlets and consumers alike sing praises about PlayStation Plus as opposed to criticizing it highly elevates one detail of PlayStation Plus above all the others, keeping the negativity negligible in favor of positive word of mouth.
PlayStation Plus needs to keep its high profile games coming in order to ensure that the service has a right to exist in a PC gaming world, too, where gamers can just buy titles off of Steam and play online without any barriers to restrict them. Seeing as how the PC gaming community seems to be growing more and more with every passing day, it seems as though this may be the best reason for continuous wide market PlayStation Plus game support.
There’s the direct competition to consider as well, as Xbox Live Gold’s Games with Gold promotion is also starting to provide a strong offering of games each month. Seeing as PlayStation Plus and Xbox Live Gold are almost identical to each other, the games they offer are really the only point of noticeable difference to consumers aside from the Xbox’s backwards compatibility program, which adds even more favor in choosing Microsoft’s product over Sony’s. Plus needs to step its game up in order to stay ahead of its closest competitor.
In today’s service-driven economy, the ability to choose what you want and how you want it is held on a pedestal. The fact of the matter is that PlayStation Plus actually became worse during Sony’s transition from PlayStation 3 to PlayStation 4 when considering modern standards, restricting the ability to choose in a package rather than offering multiple options in order to better appeal to personal desire. Video gaming is an expensive hobby, sure, but that shouldn’t be taken for granted by console manufacturers.
Keeping a healthy, modern consumer relationship in mind, PlayStation Plus needs its restored momentum in order to justify its existence and ensure its survival. Keep the Metal Gear Solid Vs coming, Sony. We can’t wait to see what more Plus has to offer.