I’ve been on the Playstation Plus bandwagon since April this year and it’s been quite a ride. I’ve played at least 20 new games through it, some crap and some great. The whole idea of “playing games you wouldn’t normally play” is conductive to a bit of open-mindedness, but I found the opposite started happening as the months went on. The little bubble of “Playstation Plus” games became the only thing I played on PS3 without me even noticing. My eyes stopped looking at the shelf of games I decided were worth buying, because I always had a backlog of PS+ games to check out that might be good. The service obviously has many upsides but I don’t think it’s sustainable in its current form, and here’s a few reasons why.
1. Devalues other games
With stuff like Metal Gear Rising and Remember Me appearing on the service within 6 months of release, it’s put a huge question mark on every new release. “Oh this game looks interesting, but what if it’s FREE in a few months? I’ll wait!” Unless you’re GTAV, then this is a problem.
2. Devalues games ON the service
Every month on the Playstation blog and other gaming forums I see people scream in agony when a game they already own is added to the service. “Damn it, I JUST BOUGHT THAT! FUCK YOU SONY!“. Well dude, calm down. You obviously like the game and have supported it with your decision. Find comfort in your resolve and enjoy the game while others add it to their download queue in mild apathy.
3. Indie games are do or die
This is a big problem and it’s starting to resemble the iPhone conundrum. There’s so many cheap 99 cent knockoffs on the mobile market that it’s difficult to be noticed, if you’re not on the front page then nobody is going to know your game exists. A perfect example of this is Gunman Clive which had a 10,000% sales boost when Google made it a featured game, only to disappear into nothingness a week later. On the other hand, the 3DS version was a steady seller and ended up selling the most because gamers were talking about it. Indie games already have a difficult enough time being seen but now with 1 or 2 Indie games appearing on PS+ every month, if you’re not on that list then you’re done for. Resogun and Contrast are both freebies with the PS4 launch and I have a feeling nobody is going to even touch the other indie games. What are they? Exactly. Due to the compressed nature of a launch lineup, they’ll probably be the next months free games right? Maybe? Here’s a quote from Koch Media who sent an email to an angry kid because they weren’t interested in publishing his indie game,
“Not to mention the fact that Sony, like Microsoft, is giving away games via their Playstation Plus services like on Xbox Live repectively which makes things even more difficult.”
Awareness is already a problem for big companies, and 100 times worse if the success of your game determines whether or not you can eat.
4. Encourages further monetization
If you expect your game to be free down the line, you might want to design other ways to pay for it. I’ve noticed a trend that a lot of games put on PS+ have huge amounts of DLC to milk after basically throwing the game into your hands. It feels like a seductive ploy and not in the best interest of designing a complete gaming experience.
5. Trophy hunting blues
This doesn’t effect me but it’s a common thing I see on forums. Some people will play through a game solely to get the Platinum and then move on, never to touch it again. Hell, there are entire sites and communities dedicated to it. In my opinion if you’re not enjoying a game you should walk away from it and do something else, like wash the dishes or put your pants on. Maybe even play a different game that Sony didn’t forward to your inbox. Here’s an overly exaggerated comparison between users I pulled out of my arse,
“How long is Metal Gear Rising, am I almost done? Is it an easy Plat? It’s dragging on and the cutscenes are too long” – PS+ User
“Metal Gear Rising is AWESOME! A bit short but I can’t wait to replay on hard! Platinum Games = ACTION GODS!!” – Someone who bought it
It’s a huge mental shift with a ton of factors, but I believe that PS+ breeds this behavior. It’s like someone gives you a huge basket of apples and suddenly you’re eating apples every day so they don’t go off. Overall I would say it’s an undoubtedly good service for the price, but I’m a believer that time is far more valuable than money and PS+ encourages doing things you don’t want to do. I’m letting my service expire because I would much rather be playing Wii U and I have a few PS1 RPGs I’d like to enjoy at a leisurely pace instead of destroying the flavour of the week. I think Sony is hyping PS+ up heavily right now due to the PS4 in the hopes that people will migrate over as soon as possible. However, in the long run I can see it becoming a huge burden for them. A collection of free games with no consistency or expectations other than “publisher we struck a deal with” is not sustainable.