As you may have guessed from my previous work, I was lucky enough to get a PS5 at launch. In fact, I’m still lucky because there’s still a shortage of consoles due to the ongoing chip shortage that’s affecting many electronic manufacturers. What’s more, Sony announced this week that the PS5 will be getting a 10% price increase in most regions outside North America. So, if, like me, you’re one of the 17 people in the world who actually own a PS5, you’ve probably been wondering what the craic is with the recent changes to PS+ and how it might affect the way you think about purchasing games. The good news is that I’ve been investigating the various benefits and drawbacks for the last couple of months, so you don’t have to.
What is it?
The new PS+ system is more than just an update to the existing plan. It’s a complete overhaul of how Sony will be handling their store, catalogue, and online offerings. While the old school plan from the PS4 days is still on offer, with the only difference being its name (it’s called PS+ Essentials now), there are two new tiers that players can opt in to if they so choose. I should mention here that these plans are also available on PS4 so it’s not just we lucky few who can avail of them.
Naturally the higher the tier, the higher the cost with the base price remaining unchanged (€60 for 12 months). The middle tier is PS+ Extra which comes in at €100 for the year, and the top tier is PS+ Premium costing you a little more at €120. As before these plans can also be subscribed to for different lengths of time (1 month, 3 months, and 12 months) but you’ll get a better discount the longer you subscribe.
It’s also possible, if you wish, to upgrade to a higher tier than the one you’re already on. If you do this, though you won’t be buying a new subscription or paying full whack for a new plan. You’ll simply have to pay a pro-rated amount based on how long is left in your plan. For example, I usually renew my plan around January so when I upgraded in June, I just had to pay a little over €30 since half my current subscription had already elapsed. Similarly, you can downgrade tiers any time you like so if you’ve got your subscription set to auto-renew you’ll only pay for the tier you want.
As for what’s in each of the plans themselves, that is, in my opinion, where the real debate around value lies. Like I said, the base plan is totally unchanged. If you pay €60 for the year, you’ll still get two (or three if you own a PS5) games added to your library every month (as long as you have an active PS+ subscription) as well as access to all the usual online features that Sony offer. So online play, cloud saves, game help, etc. are all part and parcel for the lowest tier.
Moving up to PS+ Extra players get access to a curated catalogue of games from the PS4 era as well as access to the Ubisoft+ Classics library. This includes games like many of the recent Assassin’s Creed games, the Batman Arkham series, as well as some classic first-party games like Uncharted, God of War (2018), and Ghost of Tsushima (don’t worry, Knack is still there too).
Premium is where it’s at though. With the highest tier plan you get access to all the above-mentioned content, with the addition of a curated Classics Catalogue which includes games from the PS1 era all the way up to some PS3 titles (though because of the funky way the PS3’s architecture works, those games have to be streamed and can’t be downloaded to be played natively). You’ll also be able to download some games to try out for five hours if you’re having a tough time deciding whether you really want them or not (I tried Cyberpunk 2077 this way and decided that, while it’s basically fixed now, it’s just not for me).
It should also be pointed out that some of these benefits are PS5 exclusive so if you’re playing on a PS4 you won’t have access to Game Help or the PS+ Collection. You also won’t be able to play some of the PS5 exclusive games like Returnal.
Is it worth the money?
This is where I run out of facts, to be honest. But this is an opinion piece anyway so here it goes! I have always said that PS+ Essentials (what used to be the totality of PS+) is worth the €60 a year, even if, like me, you have little to no interest in online gaming. Cloud saves are absolutely invaluable from a peace of mind perspective and the two/three “free” games per month are absolutely worth the price of admission. Don’t get me wrong there can definitely be some stinkers added to the library now and again, or games you might just not be that interested in but there are some true gems given away throughout any given year that you’d be a fool not to subscribe to get them. Just this month gone both the Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2 remake and Yakuza: Like a Dragon were given away. Considering that both are still retailing for full price you’re saving €50 in one month alone. Now that’s value.
It’s when we get to the higher tiers, though, that things become a little less clear. In my opinion, PS+ Extra (the middle tier) is something of a space filler. It’s much more expensive than the Essentials package, but also not too far off Premium that it makes it a bit pointless. The only way I could see it being worth the money is if you’re a player who is only interested in the most modern, up to date games. If that’s you then go for it, to each their own and all that. Or if you prefer to emulate your favourite games from yesteryear then that’s fine too! But I don’t think there are very many people in the former category. Especially when you consider the fact that the PlayStation family has perhaps the strongest back catalogue out of the big three consoles out there at the moment (it’s a tough call between PlayStation and Nintendo for me). That’s why I think, if you’re going to upgrade to a higher tier, Premium is the only game in town.
I love retro gaming. Since getting my hands on Nintendo’s Online service I’ve played through every classic they offer. I fell for the marketing buzz and got the Super Mario 3D collection. I filled up every save slot on the Crash and Spyro remakes as soon as they came out. So, for me, I upgraded to Premium and immediately tore my way through the Jak and Daxter collection, games I hadn’t played since they came out 20 years ago. The Classics Collection is loaded with gems like those, like the Toy Story 2 game or Ape Escape. Even some of the PS3 classics like Far Cry 3 hold up exceptionally while streaming (though your mileage may vary depending on your internet speed). Yes, some of these games are available in the store for non-subscribers but there’s a comfort in knowing that they’re there for you to play at your leisure.
How does it compare to Gamepass?
This is where we come up against the whole service’s Achilles’ heel. While, on the surface, it may seem like the services are directly comparable they are very different beasts. Yes, they both host some of the best games of their respective platforms. Yes, they offer players online connectivity and free games every month. Hell, they even cost the same. But PS+ will not allow you to play all the big first-party titles at launch. Sony have even confirmed as much, and we have no reason to expect them to change their minds any time soon. They haven’t even given a roadmap for when games might even come to the service. For example, Horizon: Forbidden West launched in February, but we have no word on when it might come to PS+. On the other side of the fence, Gamepass gives players access to all first-party titles, big and small, as soon as they come out. Now the smartarses among you will point out that Xbox hasn’t had a major Triple-A launch in nearly a year (and you’d be right) there are some big games on the horizon like Starfield due to launch in a few short months, or the Elder Scrolls VI coming some time after the heat-death of the universe. The ability to play these games as soon as they drop is a huge perk that PS+ just hasn’t been able to step up to (though not without good reason).
So, if you can only subscribe to one service it really comes down to a question of new versus old. Do you value the legacy of the PlayStation or the next-gen offerings of the Xbox? Only you can make that call when it comes down to it.
The Goosed Verdict
Is PS+ worth it? Yes and no. The upper and lower tiers are absolutely worth the money if you want what they offer with Extra kind of filling a gap that I would imagine very few people occupy. It’s not on the same level as Gamepass but it’s really not trying to be. If you’ve got a month or two left on your existing subscription, I’d highly recommend giving PS+ Premium a try since you won’t have to pay the full yearly price. And while you do that, I’ll be here reveling in my nostalgia with Mr. Driller and Locororco!