Deconstructing Sony's PlayStation Plus ServiceIs PlayStation Plus worth your while? Do you find yourself straddling the lines between your economic decisions and being a video game enthusiast? We all do. Seriously, look at the costs of being into any hobby nowadays and they’re pretty nuts. LEGO bricks? LEGO sets are insane. I could have bought an Xbox One with the amount of cash it set me back to buy the LEGO Hogwarts Castle. Yeah, hobbies are just plain damned expensive — but there are some companies out there that are doing what they can… and Sony is one of them.

I know that the lot of you may recall my articles about E3, Sony, and the Microsoft conference, but I want you to put all that out of your head. See, this is just about what Sony is doing with its PlayStation Plus subscription service and we can leave our loyalist natures behind. Let’s just talk facts — with a few sprinkles and dashes of love and adoration — for a service I’ve been a faithful member of for over a year now.

How PlayStation Plus Works

Let’s face it: games are just full-on expensive right now, and to buy a “Triple A” title on the day of release, you’re going to usually drop $60. There’s no way around it. That amazing game I talked about last week — The Last of Us — was $60 and I played through it once. It’s a beautiful and stunning game, but I have a child and a family, and a livelihood that depends on me not going bonkers and spending hundreds of dollars on a handful of games.

For $50 a year, Sony will set you up with an instant game collection that is constantly evolving and changing. When I first came upon PlayStation Plus, it was at E3 2012 when the company introduced us to the fact that it was massively expanding the collection and the output. As of that year, we had an incredible breadth of games that we could choose from, such as Infamous, Resident Evil 5, Borderlands, Little Big Planet 2, and literally dozens upon dozens of other games. Starting this year, we were excited to see Darksiders, Vanquish, Spec Ops: The Line, Sleeping Dogs, Saints Row: The Third, Uncharted 3, XCOM, and Battlefield 3. Yes, that sounds like a ton, right? That’s just a small smattering. That’s not including the indie titles, including favorites of mine like Dungeon Defenders and Telltale’s The Walking Dead.

Every single week, Sony updates its store with new games to add to your instant game collection, and the value can be definitely priced up easily. If you were to count up all of the titles that I listed up there, price-check them, and then jot them down, you would’ve saved nearly a grand, if not more. It’s a fascinating system, but if you say “Well, for the games I play, that isn’t worth it,” then this isn’t for you. If you find yourself playing mostly sports games, this isn’t for you. While sometimes we get games like NBA Jam: On Fire Edition or NFL Blitz, we rarely get games that are considered to be the “Big Sports” games. As I see it, Sony looks at what its audience wants, discusses it with publishers, and must weigh out the price points and what it can offer.

That’s not to say that every week is a brilliant one. One week, you’ll get an amazing game and some killer discounts, but the next week you may see a game you don’t care for. Personally, I couldn’t get behind Deus Ex: Human Revolution. That didn’t stop me, however, from downloading it to try it. Where PlayStation Plus flourishes is in that sweet spot. Where people say, “Oh, man. I had heard about that, but didn’t want to drop the $40-$60 to try it out. It’s here now!” And that’s where I sit. Games like Sleeping Dogs, Spec Ops: The Line, and XCOM weren’t even titles I was remotely considering until they came out on PlayStation Plus. It opened me up to styles of games that I loved and I was able to add more stories and experiences in that I wouldn’t have normally had.

PlayStation Plus is Not Just About Free Games, Folks!

While PlayStation Plus has a huge, huge collection of games you can get instantly when you sign up for the service, there’s always a chunk waiting for you. There are also really great sales available. Sometimes, sales are only open to PlayStation Plus members. Sometimes, a sale is made better for PlayStation Plus members. Just this month, we were given the Summer Sale, where I picked up several games for under $10 — and in some cases, $5. The discounts are a huge plus, but so are the trials. Yes, keep in mind I said “trials” and not just demos. PlayStation Plus members can sometimes get treated to timed trials of full games instead of just demos that let the member a little deeper into a game they’re interested in before buying it. This is actually what led me to pine for and need Kingdoms of Amalur. Having the chance to go past just a single instance like you would in a limited demo and getting an hour to explore the world was just what I needed to get my hooks in.

Did I mention the cloud? Yes, Sony has finally embraced cloud saving. In doing so, PlayStation Plus members get to save their games to a cloud that aids them in transferring between systems and keeps everything nice, safe, and secure should hardware have a fault or a system is upgraded. PlayStation Plus members get automatic downloads of betas that regular members do not get, which means early access as well as automatic updates to the system once it’s turned off.

PlayStation Plus Subscription Not Required… Yet

While in the current iteration, you are not required to use the PlayStation Plus subscription service in order to play multiplayer games; you will need PlayStation Plus service for the upcoming generation PlayStation 4 console, though. Right now, however, Sony prides itself on the fact that it refuses to make you pay twice to use things like Netflix, Hulu, and more. That’s not a subtle dig at Microsoft; it’s a calculated strike from someone who used to have an Xbox Gold membership. Sony knows you’re already paying for those services and even with the PS4, you still won’t need PlayStation Plus in order to utilize other paid subscription services. However, those of us who are early adopters to the service don’t seem to have an issue with needing PlayStation Plus in order to play multiplayer, and if I look at my list, 80% of them have PlayStation Plus as it is. There’s a reason for that.

PlayStation Plus is a damned good service.

Look, I’m not going to sell you on something you don’t need. If you don’t have the time to finish one game and don’t want to dedicate time into one or feel like you’re paying for constant games that you’ll not get to, don’t buy this. If you only prefer a specific type of game, like sports or RPG games, this isn’t for you. I can’t promise — and neither can Sony — that you’ll get what you want. There are casual games and fun titles as well as massive action games and titles that Sony puts its name behind. Take a look over the instant games that Sony has released and see if they’re your bag.

If you have children or you travel often but you pine to come back to your console and have a new game to try, whatever it is, you’ll want the PlayStation Plus subscription service. Family friendly games are offered on a near-constant basis as well as seeing something new almost every single week you log in. If you’re one of those people who automatically thumbs down and damns a gaming company for having a few security faults, just go ahead and leave it be. You’re missing out, though — big time.

What do you guys think? Do you have PlayStation Plus? Do you love it? Or are you a Microsoft loyalist and don’t care for Sony despite the decent offers? What do you think stops you from trying out the PlayStation Plus service, and are you open to giving it a try?

[Images courtesy of Sony and PlayStation Plus]