PlayStation Persuasion

playstationper1I’ve been pretty much dead against paying subscription services for anything game wise since the day I became a gamer. Admittedly, at the time, I was four years old and no-one was asking for an annual subscription so I could pick up a NES controller but, nevertheless, subscriptions are a no-no. At least they were until more recently when Sony’s PlayStation Plus showed me just how much value you can get for your money. It wasn’t an easy sell, considering I’m generally adverse to subscriptions for anything related to a single game or franchise.

This isn’t limited to games, although that’s where the best example of it lies. MMOs or Massively Multiplayer Online games have always perplexed me. This genre generally seems, in my view, to involve nothing more than a grind of very mundane tasks, in order to get very little return, and all for the pleasure of twenty odd quid a month. Believe me – what I do for living makes that twenty quid worth more than some virtual elf boots and six hours of clicking the left mouse button to ‘raise’ my character from ‘novice’ level wood-chopper to ‘novice II’ level wood-chopper. I can’t lie – not all of these games seem shite – there is a reason why World of Warcraft is still going today and the introduction of free-to-play games means that more people can ‘try before they buy’.


Although I had not taken to subscription-based gaming initially, I have subscribed to things in the world of gaming. I’ve been a subscriber to PC Gamer for nearly fifteen years and, despite the surge in online-games journalism, it is still a bastion of quality for all things PC game related. I did previously subscribe to Edge and GamesTM, only for money to become tight and force a cancellation. These are both excellent publications in their own right, however, and Edge in particular underwent a revamp in the last year or two that has really given it a fresh, modern feel.

The first time I did actually part money for an actual games service was my yearly subscription for a Xbox 360 Gold account. Being a life-long PC gamer and Nintendo fan, the thought of ‘paying’ for my online access to a games console on top of my internet bills seemed outrageous. Given this was allegedly a subscription ‘for’ something rather than just general access to the internet, I was fairly disappointed with what I got. The ability to play online with my friends? A clunky interface? The occasional discount? Please, take my money! It was such a joke – the only thing that kept me there for two years was my friends and the games we played together, the Xbox 360 being the feature console in all but one of my closest friends’ homes.

playstationper3Despite nine years of Xbox 360 ownership, I was a Gold Member for only three of them. There just wasn’t enough of a pull to keep me committed, and with the Nintendo Wii, PlayStation 3 and PC I had plenty of distractions. Given that I had (and still have) enough games to play, that should have been it, but Sony had other plans, those sexy motherfuckers. Essentially, I had seen the PlayStation Plus offer before – it was similar to Xbox 360 one but I had fewer friends and fewer games for it – it just didn’t float my boat. The PlayStation Plus service changed all that and, in turn, that service locked me into the PlayStation 4 for good.

PlayStation Plus, as it stands today, is a fantastic service. I can’t lie – part of it is all down to the PlayStation 4′s user interface. It is just so incredibly slick, which feels like a breath of fresh air compared to my last proper dip into the console pool, which was the Xbox 360. Although this started off as a fantastic console, Microsoft’s interests soon took a turn from purely gaming to an ‘entertainment service’, bombarding you with offers, competitions and the such like, for things that weren’t about gaming, first and foremost. Sony didn’t make the same mistake with the PlayStation 3 or PlayStation 4. Although their user interfaces are similar, they are minimalist, offering users the opportunity to explore things further, only if they want to. Microsoft didn’t want you to escape everything they had to offer. Sony trusted in the strength of its branding and marketing enough that you wouldn’t want to escape.


Then there is the the selection of games available on PlayStation Plus. It is up for debate whether this or Games With Gold offer more bang for your buck but, to be honest, I’m getting free games. It isn’t a bunch of clones or rip offs of the usual rubbish either, some of these are triple A titles and the rest tend to fall into that beautiful niche of being interesting enough to try but never warranting a purchase using your own coin. Grim Fandango: Remastered, Rocket League and Magicka 2 all provide hours and hours of entertainment for under four pounds a month. Four pounds. In this day and age that’s half a Mars Bar, if you’re lucky. The savings are ridiculous and, given you usually get this, some Playstation 3 games and PlayStation Vita games, you can’t really complain. Some people do but we’ll never eradicate all the twats from planet Earth. The way I see it, if you already own the game they’re offering, then that’s just hard luck. I’ve been a subscriber for a year and a gamer for about twenty-five and I’ve come across only two games that I already owned.

PlayStation Plus does come with a couple of other ‘nice’ features – the share play is cool (if ultimately a little redundant in this day and age of cheap, cheap games), some pretty decent discounts (usually half price or more, although the original prices in the PlayStation Store usually reflect the recommended retail price of unicorn blood) and, of course, the privilege of using the internet to play your games.

playstationper5None of these things alone are system sellers – there is no point in buying a console just to get access to a decent subscription service, but the PlayStation 4 does have  its own selection of eye-catching exclusives (even if they were a bit thin on the ground to begin with). Infamous: Second Son, Bloodborne, Tearaway Unfolded and Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection are some of the best the console has to offer in terms of exclusivity and that list is only set to grow. Many consoles are chastised for their lack of exclusive titles but the days of fanboys foaming at the mouth to vehemently defend their choice of electrical brick have long since passed us. For the most part, everyone gets the best of the best and the odd ones that don’t go multi-format are the prize reserve for the rich or hardcore. Either way, the PlayStation 4 hasn’t disappointed with the games on offer.

I think, overall, that is the most surprising aspect of my last year with the PlayStation 4 – just how much I’ve embraced it. I was ultimately let down by the Nintendo Wii, a device that meant well but was aiming its sights at a demographic I had simply grown out of. It represents a path to my youth and will always contain one or two newer titles that can’t be matched for quality, but having it as a sole console in my home is limiting my scope in a massive way. The Xbox 360 represented the awkward twenty-something years, that provided a real eye-opener to a whole different aspect of gaming that initially ticked all the boxes, only for its good work to be undone by Microsoft’s insistence that I subscribe to Sky, Netflix, NowTV, Spotify and Zune every time I tried to play a fucking game of Peggle. I resigned myself to the PC, vowing never really to jump back at in at the height of popularity for consoles, waiting patiently and watching all the hype die down. My plan was to sample the ‘Best of’ towards the end of the generation, like some sort of television addict who avoids all the news reports all year round, instead waiting for the inevitable When Weather Girls Can’t Point And Smile’ on Christmas Eve, because it feels like the smarter choice when, in fact, it’s about as sad and lonely as being a gamer gets.


Instead, I got offered the opportunity to jump in with both feet, to risk that someone may have got it right and will continue to get it right. All the evidence suggests that Sony are doing a pretty stellar job and only a collective lobotomy at this stage could force them down a path of failure. They’ve shipped the units, they’ve got a dedicated virtual reality presence on the way (because we’ve all got to join the motion sickness flock, like the lost sheep that we are) and they’ve got a very strong user base. They just need to keep churning out killer games, keep the fans happy and that’s it. The last year has been a perfect reflection of this – the Wii is boxed up, the Xbox 360 has been sold and there is a layer of dust on my PC so thick that it’s threatening to grow legs and seek a life away from my desk. I’m hooked. I’m sold. It’s going to be hard to deter me from the course upon which I am currently set.

Your move Sony.

Last five articles by Chris



  1. Keegan says:

    A couple of months ago I would have been more than happy to agree with you about the whole “PS Plus is great value” thing but at the moment I’m feeling quite let down. They started an arms race with Microsoft that they weren’t ready for, and now MS is offering quality title after quality title, backwards compatibility and all the other nice bits that are still more solid on Xbox Live than Playstation Plus. Oh, and EA Access, which is AMAZING. PS Plus, on the other hand, has gotten to the point where it’s only offering about a game a month, and I can’t actually remember the last time it was one that I actually wanted to play. I know it’s terrible to whine about free games, but I can’t help but feel that Sony set the bar and are now failing to clear it.

    Good article though! I love my next gen consoles and clearly so do you :)

  2. Mark R Mark R says:

    “Microsoft didn’t want you to escape everything they had to offer. Sony trusted in the strength of its branding and marketing enough that you wouldn’t want to escape”

    This pretty much sums up my own thoughts on the Xbox v PS dash, and why I initially moved away from Xbox before the Xbox One was even announced. The thing I’ve noticed most about the change from Xbox Live to PlayStation is the quality of the chat audio. It doesn’t have that over-compressed sound where highs get squashed and lows are practically non-existent.

    To be honest, the only reason I keep paying for PS Plus is to support the service, and because I play co-op. Considering Microsoft actually MADE you pay for their online service for years, and offered absolutely nothing in return, I think that PlayStation still wins this argument hands down because it was their concept of giving away content that MS have just piggy-backed on as so many folk jumped ship to PS from Xbox.

    For years, with Xbox Live you got to play online and nothing else, but only if you went all the way with a Gold subscription. If you wanted to watch Netflix or whatever, you also needed to have a Gold account up until they changed that. There was frequent down-time of the online service, ridiculous issues with their NAT where attempting to connect to play co-op was shocking, and if you managed to get one Xbox hooked to multiplayer successfully, you likely couldn’t get the one in the next room to even connect. Even now it takes a fucking age to download updates on the Xbox whereas they fly down on the PlayStation.

    I love the PlayStation online service, which is why I continue to support it. It’s fast as hell to download (I get full bandwidth at around 70mb/sec downstream), offers consistent high-quality streaming, excellent chat audio, and every update to date just makes the whole PlayStation experience better. I now love being a PS gamer, and love the high quality of the service you get from them.

Leave a Comment