For years now, I’ve seen fans of all major consoles throw opinions towards paid online play. Between the cost of playing on Xbox Live, and the lack of structure early on for PSNetwork, fanboys everywhere were provided with hefty balls of flame (internet pun intended) to throw at each other all over the internet.
In case you missed it amid the crowd’s loud cheering, as of last night, Sony confirmed that gamers would now have to pay a whopping $5 dollars a month for online play.
Crap. The only thing Sony did wrong. Or was it?
Here’s the thing, looking at online gaming networks objectively, up until very recently in the console’s life cycles, the PSN has been beaten down repeatedly in nearly all categories. A solid infrastructure is something Sony just hasn’t had. Amid huge problems like losing the credit card information for 77 Million users, having their system hacked and brought down for a week, (which in gaming time is like 5 years) and a generally lag filled beginning to PSN on PS3, Sony hadn’t placed the correct foundation for gratuitous amounts of gamers to digitally tear each other’s faces off for years to come.
PS Plus’s new pay-to-play system though, however much negative scrutiny people are now spewing about it, is a step in the right direction.
Yes, paying an additional fee every year sucks. As an Xbox Live player for over a decade, I can attest to that. Had I saved the money I spent on Live, I would be able to nearly afford pre-order for both new console generations. Had I not spent that money though? I wouldn’t be as big of a gamer as I am today. Not once have I felt the wrath of having service drop during peak gaming periods, not once have I felt my money wasn’t well spent.
With the massive hemorrhaging of money Sony saw with each sale of the PS3, PSN was doomed to become a paid service from the start. Sony didn’t have the available capital to make it what they, and gamers, wanted. In order to dedicate the PS4 to gamers, as Sony clearly stated last night they wanted to, this new policy was a necessary ‘evil.’
For starters, the $5 per month players will be spending gives Sony more capital to invest back into the quality of online play, games, security, and so much more. PS Plus will give the player access to cloud saves, which now that we know Sony’s policy on game sharing, is a huge advantage. It shows an investment in to propagation of cloud gaming as legitimate future for Sony, and with so many open world and living sandboxes coming with the new gen, it’s almost necessary, and it gives an under-the-breath smack at Microsoft’s cloud gaming dedication.
Once a month, PS Plus will give you access to one of its ‘Instant Games Collection’ titles. The only issue here, is if you let your account expire, you lose that game. Not that you paid for it anyway, but still. However, games you paid for with the PS Plus discount will not go away. Sony is making sure to ask for gamers’ loyalty, but not totally screw them if the money runs out.
In addition to the aforementioned perks, PS Plus members will get automatic game updates, and although not stated directly, it seems some of these updates will include the exclusive DLC for shared titles that Sony some-how had the clout to get locked in.
What if you don’t want to get PS Plus? As a last incentive for those worried or upset over paying for the service, it is only required for online gaming. While that plays a huge part in popularity of games, and will surely be integral to oh-so-many games to come, that means you can still play single player, watch Netflix or Redbox instant, (at least in the U.S.) and use just about every other entertainment feature they crammed in the PS4 free of charge.
(Oh, you also get all these perks on PS3 and PS Vita too.)
“PS4 gamers who aren’t Plus members can still enjoy single-player games for free…and access to media services won’t require Plus”
— PlayStation (@PlayStation) June 11, 2013
So, Sony aficionados, I implore you, please don’t be overly upset by the new fee, it should do nothing but reaffirm to you that they take your online gaming experience seriously and for $49.99/year they’ll be able to add to the stable of amazing features just announced for the PS4, as well as give the PSN the infrastructure needed to handle anything and everything the next gen developers can and will throw at it.
Let me know in the comments below what you think of all this!