A press release yesterday announcing that free downloadable copies of Batman Arkham City, Limbo and Vanquish will be available to PlayStation Plus subscribers from December 5 is another compelling argument for PlayStation 3 owners to sign up.
It's also a strong stance that Sony sees the PlayStation brand as a games player first and foremost. And with the PlayStation Plus service now available to PS Vita owners (who will be able to download Mortal Kombat and Knytt Underground for their handheld device from mid-December), Sony is sending a signal to its rivals that it values its user base.
A PlayStation Plus subscription will cost $89.95 for a year (or $24.95 for 90 days), which gives PS3 owners access to a library of 14 free games, and as many as five new games a month.
Last month, I downloaded Just Cause 2 to add to my instant game collection, and other games that have been offered in the past few months have included Borderlands, Bulletstorm and Resident Evil Gold Collection. Add in 1Gb of cloud storage for both PS3 and Vita, and PlayStation Plus seems like a damn good deal for PlayStation 3 owners, given that a single AAA titles cost more than a yearly subscription.
If there is any catch to PlayStation Plus it's that the games only remain in your collection for as long as you're a member of the service and once a game has gone from the service, it's gone. If you stop subscribing you won't be able to play those games anymore (but rejoin later and they become replayable). If you're a dyed-in-wool PlayStation owner, thought, it seems remarkable value.
Dave Hine, the head of PlayStation in New Zealand, told me this year that Sony saw PlayStation Plus as giving gamers ''an opportunity to get an invaluable amount of value in the instant game collection'' and that for the $90 annual subscription fee, PS3 owners got 30 times the value of their membership cost if they took advantage of the game collection scheme.
Frankly, a PlayStation Plus-style service is the sort of thing Microsoft needs to look at offering its Xbox 360 owners, especially Gold members who pay around $80 for a yearly subscription. The main benefit for Xbox Live Gold subscribers over their Silver membership counterparts is that they can play games online: Silver members can't do that.
I have a Gold Xbox Live subscription but to be honest, I don't do a great deal of online gaming so pretty much it's $80 wasted. But if Microsoft offered free game downloads for that price and for the duration of my subscription, it would become a more attractive proposition for me. It would prove an incentive for me to remain a Gold member.
So, who else has tried out Sony's PlayStation Plus service and what are your thoughts? Would you be keen to see other hardware makers, such as Microsoft, offer a similar type service for their hardware?
Other stuff you might be interested in: Game Junkie is on Twitter and you can email him here. He'll even answer your emails, not get some smart robot to do it. He also has another gaming blog here, which was actually updated recently. You should check it out.
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