Monday, July 05, 2010

PS Plus -1

I don't get the Playstation Plus business model.

I think it's an attempt to be more like Xbox Live and its millions of subscribers. That's good money going out the window Sony is losing by having their network free.

If I am to understand it correctly, The Playstation Plus is suppose to allow subscribers a chance to obtain new products, downloads, and demo's before they are released to the general network. It also acts like a discount card, in that you can purchase add-ons and the like at a reduced rate. It also provides automatic downloads (no need to turn on your system), and a rotation of "free" PS1 and PSN titles on a monthly basis. I think the Playstation Blog best sums up the Plus system.

Now for some of the problems:

Still no cross-game voice chat (like you have on Xbox Live and why it makes the system much more appealing to online gamers!)

In order to keep and have access to the content you have downloaded, you need to be a Playstation Plus subscriber for life. If your subscription expires, your access to the content is locked.

Some of the "free" game content can only be played on a PSP.

Here's my thing. I hate that Sony keeps throwing around the word "free." It's not free when you're paying for the service to get the demo or the add-on. Free means no money spent. It would be nice if Sony would advertise truthfully, but let's be honest. That won't happen. Realistically the system is "If you didn't have Playstation Plus, this demo will cost you $5.99. But if you do have Playstation Plus, as part of the service, you don't need to pay to play this demo." It's not really a free demo because you're paying for Playstation Plus. It's all about context and wording. Something good marketers know. You throw around the word FREE enough, people will pay for it. Web Based RPG's are great at doing this. Here's a Free MMO! But if you want the special items, extra levels, and all of the cool crap, you need to pay for it. But it's sort of Free!

As the consumer, we should think of this as a rewards program. There are a multitude of online companies (some are legitimate) that offer discounts and coupons for retailers for a monthly fee. Sony is asking that you pay $49.99 for 12 months of Playstation Plus for demos and PSN games, a 20-50% discount on certain game add-ons, and access to demos before non-paying users. Now if you're someone who spends a lot of money for game add-ons, you could probably get your money's worth within the first month of Plus. Those $1-3 discounts for add-ons start to add up. However, if you're not someone who constantly buys items from PSN, you're better off passing up this offer. That 20% discount for use maybe once a month won't pay off the cost of buying the Plus package. Then it's just $49.99 for demo's that you may only play 2 or 3, for $2.99 each. Oh, and you can't play them after you cancel your service. Not really a good deal to me. At least if my Xbox Live Gold Subscription ends, I can still play the crap I bought.

Sony needs to strengthen their marketing on this one and decide on a solid plan. Right now, it feels wishy-washy and appeals to a fraction of the consumer base. We can still play games online for free. We can still chat for free. We can still visit Playstation Home for free. There's little incentive to get Playstation Plus.

Maybe this is just the beginning phases of the system. Maybe Plus will offer more PS3 exclusive downloads and expand the library from more then just the PS1 Classics. Maybe we'll get that silly cross-game chat in PS Plus, though that will piss off a lot of the consumer base for not making it a default feature. Technically it's free with Xbox Live if you don't have a Gold account (Silver is still free). It feels like Sony is missing the point on the subscription service. They need to provide more of the goods and fix their terms. It's an evolving system that has barely been out for a month. I get that. They need to speed up the evolution process if they expect to get the results they want. Sony can't afford to let this one slip out of their hands so quickly. If Sony can't get their online service to take off within the first 5 months, drop the project and move on. We’ve been waiting on those LBP costumes you all were raving about last year. Finish those first.


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