It’s a little confusing. For a long time, if you had a PlayStation Plus membership you’d get a few games free every month and some extra DLC, game-packs and discounts for various other titles.
Then along came Microsoft with Xbox Game Pass and a promise: All Game Pass subscribers would have day one access to every single Microsoft exclusive.
The rise of Xbox Game Pass has forced Sony’s hand, and earlier this year the PlayStation maker came out with an all new PS Plus service that included three different tiers, each more content-rich than the last.
The ‘Essential’ PS Plus tier is what subscribers have now, and costs $9.99/month or $24.99 for 3 months, or $59.99 for a full year.
PlayStation Plus ‘Extra’ adds a bunch of PS4 and PS5 games for $14.99/month, $39.99/3 months or $99.99/year.
Finally, PS Plus ‘Premium’ (or ‘Deluxe’ in some regions) adds games from across the PS1/PS2/PS3 era (some downloadable and some streaming, which is the case for PS3 games) and costs $17.99/month, $49.99/3 months or $119.99 per year.
It’s a little hard to follow, but basically all three tiers include what we’ve always gotten, the Extra tier includes most of the new(ish) games that Sony will release each month, and then the Premium tier has all that plus PS3 game streaming and more retro titles. I’d say Extra is the ‘sweet spot’ but only if you don’t care about PS3 and earlier titles.
In any case, in the ‘Essential’ PS Plus we’ve all known for years now, every once and a while a brand new game or PlayStation exclusive gets released as part of the monthly offerings. Fall Guys comes to mind, for instance. Millions of PS Plus subscribers got that one for free, leading to the game going pretty viral (it’s now free for everyone but at the time it was a pay-to-own title).
Now we can see what the future holds for Essential tier subscribers. I can honestly say I don’t ever expect to see a new release like Fall Guys make its way to the Essential tier ever again. These will all be reserved for the Extra tier which costs five bucks more per month.
In a different year, Stray could easily have been a PS Plus release. It’s the perfect candidate, releasing on PlayStation 4 and 5 and Steam only. The cyberpunk cat RPG has gotten lots of buzz, and now that it’s out all that buzz seems legit. The game is reviewing extremely well with reviewers and gamers alike and I can’t wait to play it.
I just need to decide: Do I upgrade my PS Plus membership to Extra in order to do that (I can always bump it back down later) or cough up $30 on Steam since I prefer playing on PC anyways? (Or wait for a sale?)
Whatever the case, my guess is that this is the new norm for PlayStation Plus. Gone are the days of new release content at the base subscription plan. Those will be reserved for the Extra tier and up subscribers. While Sony is clearly competing with Microsoft on this one—and I understand they had no choice in the matter—this feels like a small loss for gamers. Honestly, maybe all of these subscription services will turn out to be problematic in the end, doing damage to small studios and our sense of game ownership—and the investment that brings—in the long run.
What do you think? Let me know on Twitter or Facebook.