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Playstation+ More than Just Free Games
Posted on Friday, January 31 2014 @ 10:16:51 Eastern

This member blog post was promoted to the GameRevolution homepage.

On June 28, 2013, Anthony Severino posted an article quantifying the monetary benefit of a one year subscription to Playstation Plus (PS+). After some basic assumptions and quick math, Anthony assessed that a user for that time period would have received about $1,854.86 in value over the course of the one-year subscription with certain factors considered and as outlined in his analysis. At the time, I was not a PS+ subscriber because one of the fundamental reasons I went from PS2 to PS3 vs. an Xbox 360 was the fact that the online portion was free.
 
Prior to having read Anthony’s piece, I really hadn’t sat down and considered the value proposition posed by Sony’s PS+ service. I was concerned about having limited hard drive space for all the free games you could download, I also couldn’t see the benefit of free old games which I had already purchased only now to have a redundant digital copy limited to the length of my subscription (we will revisit this), and finally I really have an affinity for the physical games which can be conveniently shared and transported. In all actuality I initially perceived it as just another means of squeezing an extra $50 from gamers each year and to plug the financial performance gap then being realized between Sony and Microsoft. A month or two after reading Anthony’s post, though, I bit the bullet to see the value for myself. That’s how it started…
 
My first observation after having signed up was that you don’t need a lot of hard drive space for your instant game collection, if you have the time. See, as soon as you start to download a free game it is added to your download list and you can cancel the download if you do not wish to play the game immediately. This gets back to the caveat of having the “time”, as you will need to download and install the game at some point to play it, but you really just want to get it onto your download list before it is taken out of “freebie” rotation. Ohhh…so I don’t need a lot of HD space, alright that’s a plus (sorry, had to do that).
 
I then figured that I could use the service somewhat against its own design. I realized I had several of the games in the instant collection already in hard copy. Not being the type to trade in games to Gamestop because you simply feel ripped off (I gift great used games vs. selling them as I believe the nominal amount I can get for a trade-in is typically far less than the perceived benefit of giving it to a disadvantaged kid or family member), I was able to find a win-win situation. I could download a game I already had and for me I had a few choices:

(1) I could then trade in the used physical copies during one of the Gamestop sales where you get bonuses for trading in “x” amount of used games together;
(2) I could do the feel good thing and donate my physical copy to a good person or cause; or
(3) just do the chill thing and give some of my best buddies copies of games like Borderlands 2 which we can now play together (I won’t digress during this piece but for some reason I always get a poor match with my buddy I gave this game to… so in that particular case it was a little bit of a waste but they still really like the game).
 
Aside from the initial monetary benefits outlined in Anthony’s piece, I had now identified yet another added value if you bundle and resell physical redundant copies. This was an added monetary value but next we move into a very innovative marketing mechanism. When I had signed up for PS+, my focus was on free games associated with PS3 as I did not and still currently don’t own a PSP or PS Vita (Vita). In short order, I realized that you could download free Vita titles offered with the subscription and cancel the download for play at a later date on a Vita. This is where it gets interesting and the value proposition goes beyond the free games.
 
I never contemplated buying a Vita as I rarely have time available to use it. I drive to and from work and when at home, I play my PS3. At a younger age, the Vita may have been my bread and butter but currently my routine doesn’t really allow time for it. My initial assumption regarding the purchase of a handheld was that the purchase proposition between the Vita and 3DS is on a level playing field, meaning that I would have to buy the core system, peripherals, memory, and last but not least, games. For PS+ subscribers the value proposition is very different in that, if I were to go to the store to pick out a handheld for me or my kid (if I had one), the 3DS may have the market cornered but I am going to be telling the kid, "Look dude, for about the same price you are getting the Vita plus since I have had PS+ for a while and been downloading free Vita titles you start with about 10-20 games (Free!!)".

To hell with a launch lineup, give me an instant free game collection. I don’t really care how well the 3DS is doing if I can purchase its competitor with 10-20 free games with a relatively comparable system. Pair that with the fact that as a kid I lost or broke several Gameboys, which sometimes had games in them or with them, you begin to see the benefit to the parents. At least I can salvage the digital collection regardless of how irresponsible my kid may be with this damn expensive toy I chose to buy vs. sending them outside with a slingshot and some cherries.
 
Months later the PS4 is released and I have downloaded my first 2 free PS4 games Resogun and Don’t Starve, yet I don’t have a PS4. I continue to download Vita games in anticipation of a console bundle purchase probably in the first quarter of 2015. You hear the BTSs of the world talking about the launch lineup and exclusivity, but when I look at the current marketing strategies and realize that each month Sony is strengthening their consoles' value proposition with its current fan base, I see many ways in which Microsoft can strengthen their own campaign and further secure their fan base. In 2015, I won’t be posed with the choice of Xbox1 or PS4 like some, but rather as a continued supporter of a Sony product my value proposition will be Core System + Game Bundle (Xbox1 Bundle) vs Core System + Game Bundle + Instant Collection 3-6 games (if not more) (PS4 Bundle), or better yet for me 2 Core Systems + Possible Game Bundle + 2 Instant Collections with 20+ games combined (PS4/Vita Bundle).
 
I think Microsoft is picking up what is being put down as they started in the second half of last year their program titled, “Games with Gold” and hopefully they continue to flesh out that program. As it sits now I have and continue to be offered free games for 4+ systems (243 individual offerings per wiki) with one subscription while “Games with Gold” has about 15 games currently in its collection.
 
Launch line-p, native resolution, and refresh rate has garnered much of the next-gen attention, but for those looking to buy a next gen console in the coming year(s), it would be prudent to keep in mind the comprehensive value proposition offered by both companies.

The opinions expressed here does not necessarily reflect the views of Game Revolution, but we believe it's worthy of being featured on our site. This article, posted originally on January 28, 2014, has been lightly edited for grammar and image inclusion. You can find more Vox Pop articles here. ~Ed. Nick Tan
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