PlayStation Plus Premium – One Week In
At the time of writing this, I’ve owned the new tiers of PlayStation Plus for one whole week, and I’ve decided to give my thoughts on the service at launch. It’s definitely not because I needed to fill in some gaps after I went to a Guns n Roses concert on the weekend so I didn’t have time to go and see the new Minions Movie…
In all seriousness, I did really want to talk about the new Plus service. PlayStation had a Plus subscription service for a while, but they weren’t offering many benefits for it. It was basically a way of charging you for online multiplayer, but the perk was that every month there were free games that you would be able to keep as long as you were subscribed. There were a bunch of games that got added to the service with the launch of the PS5, to get people into the previous generation that was going to be expanded within the PS5’s lifetime. Though, this was not the big competitor to Xbox’s GamePass that people were expecting. PlayStation now have attempted to address this issue as well as their lack of legacy content with a brand new tiered system to the PlayStation Plus.
There is PlayStation Plus: Essential which gives you all the benefits from before, PlayStation Plus: Extra, which gives you a whole collection of PS4 and 5 games that will rotate in and out of the service, and PlayStation Plus: Premium which gives you access to all the previous tiers as well as a whole collection of PS1, PS2, PSP and PS3 games (though, PS3 games will be only available through streaming of PlayStation’s Cloud Gaming service, due to the issue of emulation for PS3)!
I need to discuss a few aspects about the service and I will be making a few comparisons to Xbox Game Pass, which I’m also subscribed to. But to get started, I need to look into what each of the services are offering at this point in time. PlayStation has ensured that lots more games will be coming to each tier of the service, what we have currently is just one aspect of what we can expect of this service. So, if a PS1 game you want isn’t here yet, it may come to the service later down the line.
I went in with Premium so that I could test out the emulation quality that was being used for PS1, PS2, and PSP games on the PS5. But before I did that I also checked out the PlayStation Plus: Extra. A premium subscription will set you back £100 a year, Extra is slightly cheaper but you’re only charged monthly and you can cancel your service at any time – you’re not required to have a full year’s pay out at once. This comes out at around the same cost as an Xbox Game Pass, hence why I’m going to be looking at the value for money between the services. Looking at PlayStation Plus: Extra is where a lot of comparisons come through. Extra comes with a lot of games from the PS4 era and there’s a lot of excellent entries here. Ghost of Tsushima: Director’s Cut, you have, Spiderman Remastered as well as Spiderman Miles Morales, Horizon: Zero Dawn, and even some of the third party selections are great, some Resident Evil games including the first remake! Ubisoft have even done a partnership deal, so Assassin’s Creed fans will get some excellent content.
PlayStation Extra has an excellent selection of games. However, if you’re like me and you’ve been heavily involved in the PlayStation ecosystem particularly PS4 & 5, there’s not much here that you probably didn’t already own, for example, I rarely found many Sony first party games. I didn’t own the Director’s cut version of Ghost of Tsushima, which I was tempted to pick up (though I haven’t at this point) but as a whole, there’s not much here. Some of the games have already left the service! Persona 5 has left, but this is likely due to a licensing deal since that game will be rereleased on PS5 at the same time it comes to Xbox and Nintendo Switch. While PlayStation could work out a deal with Atlas to bring those games back to the service, along with Person 3 & 4, Xbox have already paid a lot of money for those games to go to Game Pass on day one. Atlas might not want to make another negotiation for fear of breaking a deal with Microsoft.
This is all speculation as of right now, but my point still stands that the people that will get the most out of PlayStation Plus Extra are people that have bought a PS5 and don’t own all of the PlayStation exclusives, or even newcomers to the console. From that standpoint, the choice of games here is great.
Here’s the biggest problem with comparing it to Gamepass. You won’t be getting PlayStation first party games being added to service on the first day of release, which is something that Xbox has been doing. For example, Xbox’s biggest game on the horizon right now is Starfield being developed by Bethesda, which will be added to the service on day one. If you are subscribed to that service, you can download it from day one at no extra cost! PlayStation are charging more for their games right now, first pass games on Ps5 cost £70, and that means that PlayStation sees real value in their games. As a result, games like The Last of Us Remake and God of War Ragnarök, that will come out later this year, will not be placed on the service. In fact, more recent first party games won’t be placed on the service either. Grand Turismo 7 not being on the service actually baffles me considering that the live service nature of that game might bring a lot more people onto that game if they felt like they weren’t paying the premium to purchase the game only to be charged yet again for the micro transactions. It probably would also bring a lot more acceptance for the necessity of having to always be online to play that game’s single player features.
That’s not to say that PlayStation isn’t offering any day one releases. Stray, which comes out in a couple of weeks, is going to come to PlayStation Plus, Extra and Premium on day one, which is an excellent deal since people have been really excited about this game since its reveal.
The only games I spotted that were coming to the service that are PlayStation exclusive are Returnal and the Demon Souls Remake, which are probably the best titles to have on the service, but not all of the PlayStation 5 exclusives are on here. But that could change over time- I suspect that Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart will be included down the line.
Now that’s just PlayStation Plus Extra, what do you get for Premium?
This is the one that I was most interested to check out, since I have owned every PlayStation exclusive that has come out so far.
Let’s talk about the game selection at launch later, the first thing I want to talk about is the Cloud service. All PS3 games are Cloud streamed, this is due to the fact that PS3 games are really difficult to emulate and get right. I actually heard one developer saying that a PS3 emulator would be so powerful that it would be locked to PS5 owners since a PS4 couldn’t handle it. We don’t know this for sure, since PlayStation doesn’t currently offer a PS3 emulator. I did try out a few PS3 games on the cloud streaming, and I wanted to compare this to Xbox X Cloud. I did try out games like Sonic Generations, as well as some of the God of War games. They were on a whole alright, but I thought that the streaming quality was not great on the PlayStation. Comparing this with X Cloud, I tried out Microsoft Flight Simulator, which is a very demanding game, and amazingly, with the exception of some graphical hiccups I couldn’t really tell I was playing a streaming version of the game. With the PlayStation ones, there was a little more input lag than I would have liked. I found myself making severe errors on Sonic Generations, which is a game I know very well. It’s especially not great considering that the Xbox 360 version is backwards compatible and comes with Auto HDR and non-existent load times. I can’t recommend playing the streamed version on the PlayStation. That being said, the streams are fine but they’re not the best way to play these games.
I was disappointed to find one of my favourite games, Metal Gear Solid 4 isn’t on the service due to issues with Konami and some of their copyright deals with these games.
The games being offered here are good! There’s a lot on the service, and PS1 definitely gets the most love. There are games like Syphon Filter, Worms Armageddon, Tekken 2, and they even managed to get the licensed Toy Story 2 game which is a real underrated gem of the PlayStation library.
The PS2 selection is more interesting. It does come with a bunch of new games, though it does also include some of the emulated games that already existed on PS4 like the Jack and Daxter trilogy for a start. Some games included are Ape Escape 2 and Wild Arms 3.
The PSP has the least amount of entries at this time. Though some of the PSP are included in the Premium tier, these are the PS4 remastered versions of these games with games like LocoRoco and Patapon 1 & 2. The only PSP game I found that wasn’t a PS4 remaster was a game called Echo Chrome, which is an interesting puzzle game to say the least, but I really had some trouble trying to figure out what I was doing on that.
With regards to the emulation quality of those games, it’s fine. The emulation quality is pretty good for the most part, and they came out with a lot of options for how they looked visually and how they played, particularly with the PS1 games. The PS2 came with fewer options, but I still enjoyed a few of them. The Jack and Daxter games especially look great, but these were emulations that were designed to take advantage of the PS4’s graphics anyway.
PS1 games come with a lot of quality of life features, like save states and rewind features, which all come in handy- especially with some of those games that offered very few options to save your game, particularly with Wild Arms, which I played a lot to test this service.
Compared to the PS1 mini, there’s a few things they got right and a few things they got wrong. Unlike that service, you get a whole bunch of save states which comes in handy considering that the PlayStation mini console only offered you one save state per game. However, the problem they took over was that some of these games are the European PAL versions and not the American NTSC meaning that some of these games don’t run at the correct framerate. I had trouble figuring out which was which at this point, but some of them do still have the issue. But Sony has said via Twitter that they plan to offer the NTSC versions for most games going forward and most games that use the PAL version will receive the NTSC versions in updates.
Trophies have also been added to certain games, but not all games contain them. APe Escape has trophies, but Everybody Tennis did not.
As for the selection at launch, there’s an interesting mix of Sony first party and third party games, but some of the choices I think are a bit weird. There’s some notable missing games here, for example you don’t get any of the notable Castlevania games that came to PlayStation here..
I do like the fact that they brought Resident Evil Director’s Cut to the service, but then you get a choice like Tekken 2, which to me seems like a weird choice considering that PlayStation does have a ROM for Tekken 3 lying around – it’s in the mini console. Tekken 2 is fine, but I would rather have 3 get the treatment than 2. They’ll probably want to get the Silent Hill games on the service, so they will have to work out a deal with Konami for them.
Sony might run into a bit of trouble going forwards since a lot of PS1’s definitive library did come from third parties! For example, the Crash Bandicoot and Spyro games will probably now never make it on here because as of next year they’ll be part of the Microsoft ecosystem due to their acquisition of Activision and they’ll likely be on Xbox Game Pass.
There’s also other games that feel missing here. Part of it does feel rather unimpressive, since many of these games have not been ones I’ve gone back to a lot. I did play a lot of Tekken 2 multiplayer with friends and Wild Arms was really enjoyable to go back to, but there’s some bigger games that I think need to come to the service down the line. I’m certain PlayStation is working on bringing some of these games over, but it’s going to require a lot of deals with third parties. Right now, they seem to be on good terms with Capcom, and they might be able to get the Resident Evil games.
To summarise, while I think the selection is slightly lacking at launch and I think that Game pass has some better features, I do think that the service will get better and will become worth it. There’s a lot of great games coming to the service and you will also get discounts for buying certain games with your subscription.
My advice would be to take a look at the selection of games that are included at each tier and figure out what suits you best. If there’s not PS1 or PS2 games that you really want to play, you might as well save your money until they’re out. There’s no issues with the emulation of them so don’t worry about that, it’s a great way to play them. But that doesn’t extend to the PSP and PS3 games at this time.
More games are coming to the service down the line so keep an eye on it in case they come out with something that you want. If they get the Metal Gear Solid collections, they really need to make a big deal out of it as I imagine it would be a big pull to the service.
However, right now, there are some issues. I think that the service will improve down the line but at the end of the day, PlayStation are liking their legacy content, there is good reason to get these games back. But that being said, the cynical part of me thinks that these games are being put on the service just to entice people to join as PlayStation moves more towards the live service market. This has been particularly apparent with their acquisition of the studio Bungie that make the Destiny games, who will aid with the creation of these live service games.
It’s also weird to me seeing how many of these games were made by Sony Japan who are now gone- really makes you wonder how experimental Sony will be in the future, will they make games like Patapon and LocoRoco ever again? You can really tell that the Japan studio gave bold experimental ideas to Sony that were crucial in PlayStation’s success. But that’s just the cynical part of my brain that is kind of trying to be fair to some of the naysayers, but from what I can see, most people are enjoying the service overall. I think that the emulation quality is really good, but the selection of games could be better. Though I will be keeping an eye on the service down the line, and I may even do a follow up to this in a year’s time to see how the service is a year later.
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