Well, that's a trick question to answer, especially given that US subscribers get more content per month than European subscribers - clearly visible in the IGN charts in which the editors list games and DLC that are not available to Europeans. It would seem that the US 'Plus' store was updated each week or two. Nevertheless, I shall offer a personalised account of my 'Plus' experience and attempt to offer some objective analysis of the value of the service. Firstly, let's review the first month:
Month 1 (June 2010)
I've already covered what the service entails in the first post but I thought it worthwhile to list all the options that were available to UK subscribers in the first month (as long as I can recall them!)
- Intro offer: LittleBigPlanet (standard edition)
- PSN PS3: Wipeout HD
- minis: Field Runners, Age of Zombies
- PSone: Destruction Derby
- Full Game Trial: Shatter, Savage Moon
- Discounts: LBP God of War Pack – 50%, LBP: LocoRoco costume pack – 50%, Gravity Crash – 20%, Fat Princess DLC – 20%
- Premium Game Element: KillZone 2: Steel & Titanium DLC
- Push demo: ModNation Racers, Heavy Rain
- Themes: LBP Theme, SCEE produced: PlayStation “Game Is Just The Start” Dynamic Theme
- Premium Avatars: 2 x Fat Princess
- 24 hour early preview: Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days
It's worth noting that LittleBigPlanet was only available to the annual subscribers and not the 3 months package subscribers. It's also the only game content that can be kept by people if they let their subscription lapse (excluding themes and avatars). After the break you'll find a table of material I downloaded and purchased by means of the 'Plus' service.
In the launch material Sony made much of the claim that over £200 worth of content would be given away throughout the year. Looking at the content I consumed, that claim looks like it will hold true. I downloaded content to the value of £36.73 in the first month alone and that figure excludes LittleBigPlanet which is now listed in the PlayStation Store as £16.99 (despite it being a bit cheaper in its physical format from stores like Shopto or Play - surely digital content should be cheaper?). A true total figure would come in at £53.72 if we include that content.
However, there are a few caveats I need to point out. I already owned both LittleBigPlanet and Wipeout HD, as well as the 'premium' DLC for Killzone 2. Frankly, I'd imagine many PS3 owners will already have these games given their critical acclaim and decent sales figures since they were launched (in fact I gave away my physical version of LittleBigPlanet to a pal). Therefore I've added an extra field to the table called 'Saving' which shows how much the downloads would have cost had I purchased them in the traditional way. This figure is more modest at £14.77.
There's another issue here too. Of the content that I did download, I can safely say that it was unlikely that I would have ever purchased it had it not been included in the subscription package. I had no interest in the Minis titles or the PSOne Classic game. That's £11.97 worth of content that would never have been paid for. I might have purchased the theme or the avatar so the true value for money on offer looks a little dubious. I would have taken advantage of the Wipeout HD offer had I not already purchased it so that balances out. A more sceptical take on the value of the content I may have paid for comes to £2.90
One negative consequence of the new service is that subscribers might be a little less eager to buy PSN games, preferring to wait and see what the Plus package will offer - a point made on the official Sony blog by user GothPunk. I have certainly held back from buying games since the inception of Plus for this reason. I'm also a sucker for discount/sale offers, as outlined (.pdf) by the behavioural economist Dan Ariely, and like to feel like I've got a bargain. Consumer behaviour can be difficult to predict but there are tried and tested means for incentivising customers to purchase. I fell for the discounted DLC offer on Fat Princess - a game I haven't played for about a year - but I'm no longer willing to buy full games, just in case they appear as part of the 'Plus' package.
Yesterday Sony announced what content will make up the next two months of Playstation Plus
- PSN: Zen Pinball
- minis: Blast-Off, Alien Zombie Death
- PSOne Classic: Medievil
- Full Game Trial: Infamous, Mushroom Wars
- Exclusive Discounts: Zen Pinball Earth Defense Table – 20%, Warhawk Triple Combo Pack – 50%, GT Club PS3/PSN – 50%, WipeOut HD Fury – 20%
- DLC: MotorStorm Pacific Rift: Adrenaline Pack
- Automatic download demo: Pixel Junk Shooter, Mafia 2
- Dynamic themes: Exclusive PlayStation Plus Theme, Exclusive ‘Clock’ Theme
- Premium avatars: Heavy Rain characters x 2
- PSN: Sam and Max: Devil’s Playground (entire season)
- minis: Vector Tower Defense, Echoes
- PSOne Classic: Oddworld: Abe’s Oddysee
- Full Game Trial: Warhawk (with exclusive 50% discount for Plus members on purchase), Inferno Pool
- Exclusive Discounts: LBP: Ico and Shadow of Colossus costume pack – 50%
- Metal Gear Solid (PSOne) – 50%, Warhawk – 20%, Pixel Junk Shooter – 20%,
- DLC: Exclusive UFC Undisputed 2010 DLC
- Dynamic themes: Exclusive PlayStation Move theme, Exclusive ‘Fish Tank’ theme
- Premium avatars: Eye Pet Blue Goalie Avatar, Eye Pet DJ Avatar
This could be a shrewd move by Sony - by announcing what games/DLC are comng soon subscribers can decide whether or not to purchase the relavant titles. For instance, will people hunt out cheap retail versions of MotorStorm Pacific Rift and UFC Undisputed 2010 knowing that they will be able to score on the free DLC?
Sony have also promised extra exclusive content will appear throughout the months. As for whether or not the announcements will act in Sony's favour or against them remains to be seen. I'll report on August's value for money in the first week of September.