Don't you just love little details like using a graphic of the D-Pad for the 'plus' symbol. Attention to detail, I like that. Look after the little things and the big things will take care of themselves. So what makes up Playstation Plus? What does it mean to YOU and for the future of the Playstation Network (PSN)?
Some of you may not know what Playstation Plus is. For those that are in that category - this is your lucky day. Playstation Plus is a premium service from Sony that offers subscribers additional, exclusive and advance content not usually available to non-subscribers. It also offers an inclusive download from the Playstation Store per month as well as discounts on certain content. Additionally it gives a 'try before you buy' ability on selected PS3 Blu-Ray and PSN releases as well as an automatic update service. For more information on the Playstation Plus service check the FAQ.
So is it worth it? The price is comparable to Xbox Live Gold Membership and a lot of the additional features are similar to the "perks" that paying Microsoft get you, except one: with Playstation Plus you're paying for 'premium' content, not the ability to play games online. Apparently there is no plan to charge for the privilege of hosting the games you've bought on your console using your internet connection - but as with all things in the gaming market: where companies are looking for more exotic ways to squeeze the consumer, that may well change in the future.
As an optional service then your value for money will vary. For hardcore gamers who spend a lot of time and money on games then it's probably worth having (although currently the content is not available to really offset the investment with the inclusive downloads being items that many people have already purchased). The consensus from those Playstation Plus subscribers that I've discussed the subject with have said that right now it's not worth the money, but in about six months it should be great. They view it as an investment in Sony and the Playstation brand - perhaps even facilitating exclusive and advance releases of games in the same way that Microsoft does with certain developers on the Xbox Live service.
For the more casual gamer, value for money will be down to individual perspective. Do you really want to pay extra to get access to the demo of a game early? How much would you normally spend in the Playstation Store? Probably the most useful aspect to the casual gamer is the complete game trial - but even that will only apply to certain games with no way of knowing to which games the trial applies until release.
Essentially, Playstation Plus will offer the opaque transparency that we should all now expect from the gaming providers. Whether you're prepared to pay for it is really a matter of personal choice. Before you part with your cash though, cut through the hype and marketing and ask yourself whether or not the services that are being offered are things that you'll actually use, and more importantly, if they are things you should actually be charged for.
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