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Daily Reaction: What The PS4’s Paid Online PS Plus Service Really Means

June 18, 2013 Written by Sebastian Moss

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With E3 over, the dust has finally settled and it’s time for the triumphant return of Daily Reaction. Today, Seb and Dan discuss the most controversial announcement from Sony at the show – the fact that you’ll need to pay to play online on the PS4. We talk PS+ and what it means for you, for indie developers and the price point of future games as a whole.

Seb: We’re back baby! So, let’s get down to it: At E3 Sony revealed that you have to have a PlayStation Plus subscription to play online with the PS4. There’s been a little confusion over what that really means, so first a quick recap – it can be the same PS+ account as the PS3/Vita one, 12 months costs $50, 3 months $18, and most F2P games won’t require it. Unlike XBL, services like Netflix will also not require PS+.

As a PlayStation Plus member already, I personally have no issue with the subscription. The service is an absolute steal, and worth every dime already on PS3/Vita. My only complaint this gen has been that I already own a lot of the games I end up getting free, but the awesome thing is that, as the PS4 isn’t backwards compatible, all the games we’ll get are new.

You are guaranteed at least one free PS4 game a month, with the first being a watered down DriveClub, and future titles including the truly awesome Outlast. These are games that you obviously won’t have yet, so you’re guaranteed a giant library of titles while paying less than what Xbox Live costs (not to mention all the discounts).

On top of that, it simply forces Sony to embrace indies. Think about it – they’ve promised a huge number of free games, and they won’t all be able to be big budget titles like DriveClub, otherwise they wouldn’t make a profit. So their only option is to get a ton of indie games and, as they can’t be sure that devs will meet their release date targets, or agree to be on PS+, they need to have far more than the 12 promised each year.

PlayStation Plus will be a great way to ensure that Sony continues to bring on indies, while at the same time essentially gifting indie games to casual CoD/AC/BF players who usually just play those games online, hopefully opening their mind to the diversity this industry has to offer.

Also, the profits from PS+ will go to making the PSN a better service, and it could do with some improvements. Downloads are still too slow and maintenance is still too often. With the PSN running at a loss so far, it’s no wonder it has its problems, but now we should hopefully see change.

Of course, while this is great for people like me who would have bought these games anyway, it’s still a $50 fee every year for the foreseeable future, which is hard to swallow for gamers who don’t invest as much time into their hobby, or stick to playing a few games – especially when many of them have been used to free online this gen.

Dan: Yeah, the concept of having to pay to play online might be a difficult premise for some PS3 owners, but I think the benefits will definitely bring them around eventually. Xbox gamers have been paying for a service, much like the PSN, for years and have grown accustomed to the idea without having any of the major benefits we are seeing now with PS+.

The concept of being able to purchase a console and pay $50 annually to get a growing library of games is a phenomenal value and is a great deal for parents or anyone looking to keep costs down. Also, the fact that you will only need one account to continue playing online with a PS4 instead of needing separate ones like on the Xbox, is definitely a sign that Sony understands that they can’t use the service to milk money out of consumers by forcing families/friends to double up on subscriptions.

One minor issue with this is that you don’t get to choose which titles are going to be released for free, meaning that parents relying on the service could get games outside of an appropriate rating for their child.

Also, we still have yet to see how PS+ will actually be able to keep up with providing a new title each month, as developers will need to be able to produce games at expedited rates. This new constraint being placed on development could cause studios to push through titles simply to meet this new demand, forcing corners to be cut and even bugs to be missed.

With the push to a free market, gamers will have very little reason to purchase other smaller products – meaning that developers will almost be forced to launch for free on PS+. This toll could take the industry into new directions, much like we have seen in the MMO genre that is now having difficulties finding ground on any form of non-F2P model.

Are you happy to pay for PS+? Or are you going to move to PC because of consoles requiring subscriptions? Let us know what you think in the comments below, email DailyReaction@PlayStationLifeStyle.net thoughts on how PS+ will impact developers, and pay us $5 a month to subscribe to our twitters at Seb and Dan.