Sony is making some big changes to PlayStation Plus. if announced in March, it’s essentially folding PlayStation Now into the service to make it a three-tier offering. Sony is gradually moving all PS Plus and PS Now subscribers to the new model, but for various reasons it hasn’t exactly gone smoothly so far.
To sum up, the base tier (PlayStation Plus Essential) is basically what PS Plus is now: you get online multiplayer access, cloud storage for saved data, a few PS4 and PS5 games per month, and discounts on the PlayStation Store. The middle tier is PS Plus Extra, which gives access to approximately 400 PS4 and PS5 titles from Sony and its partners.
At the top is PS Plus Premium. That includes everything from the other two levels, along with game trials (ie access to play some notable games for several hours).
You also get access to a few hundred PS1, PS2, PS3 and PSP games, as well as cloud streaming on PS4, PS5 and PC for those and the PS4 titles from the Extra tier. One caveat is that PS3 games are only available for streaming.
Sony’s cloud streaming service is not available in many countries. For now, people in those regions can sign up for the PlayStation Plus Deluxe service. That doesn’t apply to PS3 games, though it’s less expensive than the $18-a-month or $120-a-year Premium plan (or whatever the equivalent price would be).
That’s all clear to me, even if the new PS Plus is complicated enough to require a 2100 word FAQ to explain many of the basics. However, some of the other aspects of the revamped service remain obscure.
Where are the rest of the games?
For starters, Sony has not yet announced the full list of games that will be available at every level and in every country. We’ll discover the full catalog soon enough, I’m sure, but it seems like a misstep not to reveal all the titles in advance. People want to know what they can play in exchange for their hard-earned money.
The company has a partial list released which, frankly, contains a lot of great games from the different PlayStation generations. It also has hundreds more to reveal. Still, Sony said the titles will vary by market. Knowing immediately which games are offered in each country before launch will help players make more informed decisions about which tier to subscribe to.
At this stage, more clarity would be better than keeping some cards close to the chest. If there is a title, many people would be excited to revisit (eg Dino Crisis) that hasn’t been officially announced, wouldn’t it make more sense to let them know exactly what to expect and give them something to look forward to? Help players get excited about your new thing, Sony.
Slower versions of PS1 games
The new PS Plus debuted in some Asian markets this week and players learned some things that raised a few eyebrows.
For starters, Sony has added the PAL versions of some PS1 and PSP titles, which run slower and have a lower frame rate than the NTSC format, because VGC reports. That’s not great!
Sony has also chosen to emulate the PAL versions of games on the PlayStation Classic console rather than their NTSC counterparts. At a time when many PS5 players are getting used to games running at 60fps, going down to 25fps rather than at least the 30fps of NTSC variants is a serious bummer. I hope Sony adds the NTSC versions instead.
The new PS Plus isn’t available in North America yet, so I haven’t tried it. That means I can’t speak for the performance of the games myself. However, this video offers some interesting comparisons of how older titles look on their native platform compared to PS4, PS4 Pro, and PS5. For example, it doesn’t seem like PS2 games are being scaled up to a higher resolution.
Pay the price
An even bigger problem was how Sony Upgrades initially covered to the higher tiers of PS Plus for some of those where the new service went live this week. Players who bought a subscription to the existing PS Plus at a discount were asked to make up the difference if they wanted to level up. If you stack PS Plus annual subscriptions for years, you risk a hefty fine for switching to Extra or Premium.
Sony said later that was a “technical foul” it rectified and “affected players will be credited” (but apparently no refund). It may have been an honest mistake, but it’s a slur that Sony didn’t need as it tries to encourage players to move up to the higher levels. I hope it provides better compensation to those affected.
Sony has done a good job explaining how existing plans will carry over to the new setup. But it hasn’t described how upgrading and downgrading between plans will work.
My current PS Plus subscription runs for a few years. Looks like I can’t afford the difference to upgrade to Extra for a few months so I Return and Ratchet and Clank: Rift apart, then go back to PS Plus Essential.
Based on what I’ve seen so far, I’m not ready to fully upgrade my plan and potentially double what I’m paying for PS Plus right now.
Doesn’t it all seem bad?
There are some things I like from what we’ve seen so far. It’s cool to see trophies will be added to older games (I’m sure trophy hunters will appreciate that too). Have the opportunity to quick save rewinding some titles and the action in the same way as Nintendo Switch Online games is also fun, as are custom video filters.
Understandably, Sony won’t offer its first-party PS4 and PS5 games through PS Plus on release day, as Xbox does with its own titles on Game Pass. They have different business objectives. Sony has to sell its blockbuster games the traditional way to make the math work. I think that’s good. Those games will probably come to PS Plus someday anyway.
However, PlayStation has a stronger back catalog than Xbox. There are already some great games that I look forward to revisiting, and many others that I’ve wanted to try for a long time.
Sony’s messages about the new PS Plus service were unclear at best. I think it’s a bit of a mess now. I’m sure things will run smoother in the coming weeks and months as we learn exactly what this service is all about.
I’m still curious how the new tiers work in practice. It’s still early though, and even if things are tough now, I hope they improve. In addition, I’d like to see Sony add some of its movies and TV shows to sweeten the deal.
I want the new PS Plus to be great. I hope Sony can live up to expectations, despite some early warnings.