Sony’s original PlayStation Plus, first introduced in 2010, is a subscription service that allows players to play games online in a multiplayer setting. Alternatively, released in 2014, PlayStation Now was the service that allowed for cloud streaming of selected games, enabling players to test various games without a download but on the fidelity of their bandwidth. Then, announced at the end of March, Sony confirmed that the two services would be assimilated into an updated version of PlayStation Plus.
This multi-tiered membership allows for greater choice and customization across the two services’ offerings (and price ranges). The three options are PlayStation Plus Essential at $9.99 USD monthly, PlayStation Plus Extra at $14.99, and PlayStation Plus Premium at $17.99, essentially dividing two services into three (prices vary for quarterly and yearly subscriptions). While the Essential tier carries the same benefits afforded to PlayStation Plus subscribers before the update, including online multiplayer access and exclusive discounts, the Extra tier adds the benefit of access to a catalog of over 400 games, including the recent additions of Demon’s Souls, Death Stranding, Returnal, Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales, Mortal Kombat 11, Red Dead Redemption, and several titles from the God of War series.
The final tier, Premium, offers the benefit formerly provided by PlayStation Now: cloud streaming games. However, there is now an additional catalog of over 300 classics from PlayStations’ earliest generations: iconic games from the original PlayStation, PS2, PSP, and PS3, all playable through the online streaming feature. Even in markets where PlayStation Now is still available, including Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Greece, Hungary, Malta, Poland, Republic of Cypress, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia, this streaming catalog is expanding. Finally, Premium members will have access to game trials, allowing players to try out some of the newest games, including Horizon Forbidden West, Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands, Cyberpunk 2077, and WWE 2K22. This way, audiences can test out these high-profile games without making an actual investment – just a quick download.
Yesterday, June 14th, the PlayStation Plus update dropped, showcasing the new benefits of the platform’s now singular service; unfortunately, the service and its rollout have been messy. From the front page of PlayStation Plus, only a couple new additions are immediately apparent, including Death Stranding and Returnal. From there, the benefits are somewhat laid out, albeit unclearly, providing a rundown of the three services now offered and their benefits. Yet, these benefits do leave a lot to be desired.
For one, as a Premium user, the game trials offered allow five-hour play sessions for Horizon Forbidden West and Cyberpunk 2077. The rest of the play trials remain between one and three hours each, nowhere near enough time to grasp and consider a game as extensive as Crusader Kings III (one of the three-hour selections offered). Further, the selection is relatively limited, and while Sony has promised more titles in the future, the opening day offerings are slim for one of the key Premium features.
The backward compatibility options are similarly slim, providing about forty combined games from the early non-PS3 PlayStation catalogs. While there are certainly many great options that PlayStation gives the player to choose from, including the Assassin’s Creed series, among others, anything outside of that specific PS3 era is largely absent. There is also very little resolution control given to the player. Most games are maxed out graphically at 720p, an underwhelming resolution for many gamers today.
Yet, the service carries potential, bringing years of PlayStation history to the forefront once again. For members not wanting to make a change to their existing subscription, the Essential tier offers the bare online experience at the original price point. The Plus Tier is truly the newest addition, splitting the difference between the other two tiers. But for those players who are enticed by the legacy catalogs offered at the Premium tier, The Premium tier offers PlayStation Now benefits at a lower cost than the original PlayStation Plus and PlayStation Now subscriptions combined, enabling many gamers to find even more bang for their buck – as well as access to plenty of new and additional content.