Sony’s Big Giveaway: One Year With PlayStation’s Instant Game Collection

About a year ago, as Sony reimagined PlayStation Plus for its second anniversary, I wrote an article about the subscription model, and its monetary value. Twelve months on from the relaunch, I’ve decided once again to look at the service, round up the figures, and throw my two-penneth into the pot.

The evolution of PlayStation Plus from a somewhat niche product running alongside the PS3 – acting as little more, in my opinion, than a promotional tool – to what is now a fully-fledged PlayStation experience, has been more than welcome.

Of course, the arrival of what Sony calls its “Instant Game Collection” has been the biggest change, bringing top-rated AAA titles to the service and making PlayStation Plus now almost unrecognisable in terms of content from its humble beginnings. The other noticeable difference implemented this year, is the inclusion of PlayStation Vita titles, and the subsequent removal of minis and Classics, from the monthly updates.

At the time of writing, anyone with a Plus subscription can access 15 games completely free of charge, which at their current PlayStation Store retail prices would cost well in excess of £300.

There’s 10 games, amounting to £250.40 of content for PlayStation 3 gamers alone, and whilst we have to account for the PSN’s less than favourable pricing system against physical media, you’ve got to admit that’s a ridiculous amount of money. More than half a PlayStation 4 in fact.

Vita players get a modest 5 titles, totaling £81.95 worth of downloads, although again, this saving could net you another two years of PlayStation Plus (or one, and that Vita Memory card you’ll be requiring) making the service pay for itself instantly.

Sony advertise PlayStation Plus with the catchy strapline of “pay less, play more”, and looking at the figures above you’d be hard pressed to argue. £39.99 for a year of a service which provides top quality games such as Battlefield 3, Uncharted: Golden Abyss & Xcom: Enemy Unknown each month is certainly making me want to play more.

Being the massive geek I am, I’ve looked at all the games made available for free to subscribers during the first year of PlayStation Plus’ Instant Game Collection, and found some simply mind boggling results.

Why I’m giving you these figures and not Sony is beyond me.

For clarity: To the best of my knowledge, the following quoted figures include all PS3, PlayStation Vita & native PSN releases within the UK, but exclude PSP, PSOne Classics, PS2 Classics, Minis & PS Mobile titles. Also excluded are any other items, such as themes, avatars and DLC. Cross Buy titles are counted once, and all prices are correct as of July 10th, 2013.)

Currently, the PlayStation 3 is where Plus subscribers will find the biggest savings: the platform’s large games back catalogue and install base of some 70 million (shipped units, 2011) make the home console a brilliant pedestal for Sony’s service. More recently the push to get their handheld – the PlayStation Vita – into the hearts and minds of this generation’s mobile gamers has been a priority.

In the last 12 months, Vita owners have been able to enjoy 21 releases, with a PSN retail price of £260.09.

To put that into perspective – the amount you’ve saved on games in the first twelve months of its lifecycle has paid for the console itself.
On launch day, I hurried down to my local, ill-fated GameStation and spent £270 on a PlayStation Vita 3G. As with most new consoles, my Vita had no games out of the box, resulting in a further £40 being spent on the rather exquisite Golden Abyss & Rayman Origins. A solid investment, I thought. That £40 would have given me these two games, and 20 more over the year, had I bought a Plus subscription. Crikey.

More astonishing still, however, are the figures related to PlayStation 3 games, with 74 releases worth a staggering £1,121.16. Seventy-four marvelous PS3 titles for the price of one new release. And, even if you only play half of them you’ve paid little more than a pound per game.
Even LoveFilm can’t rent you titles for that price.
Of course, there’re a number of PlayStation Plus subscribers with both Sony platforms at their disposal. These guys have, potentially, paid a mere 41 pence each for their 96 games.

Over both platforms, an average PSN retail price of just over £14 shows these freebies aren’t just filler either, with a good mix of big-budget titles such as those I mentioned earlier, right down to the already stupidly cheap indie gems such as Thomas Was Alone and Velocity Ultra.
All in all, my ridiculous spreadsheet of games and their prices tells me that there have been been gratis downloads to the value of £1,347.29 since last July. At £39.99, that’s the cost for another 33 years of PlayStation Plus.

Moving into next-gen, and looking towards the PlayStation 4, Sony have already reported that whilst maintaining all the current benefits across PlayStation 3 and Vita, PS4 titles are to be included within the PlayStation Plus Instant Game Collection catalogue, and a PS+ special edition of Evolution Studios’ social racer #DriveClub will be available at launch, joined by one new title on rotation each month.

It has also been announced that much like Microsoft’s long standing Xbox Live service, a PlayStation Plus subscription will be essential to unlock some of the new console’s core features, such as online multiplayer.

As a former nay-sayer, I still have my doubts. Instant Game Collection is undoubtedly a triumph for both PlayStation and consumers but digital distribution isn’t without its drawbacks, and my personal preference for physical media plays a part, but again, there’s absolutely no denying those numbers.

I don’t even know where to start with regards to the plethora of discounts Plus affords each annum, but I think I’ll go “£80 down, £3,000 up” for my first two years of PlayStation 4.

What about you?

Sony’s Big Giveaway: One Year With PlayStation’s Instant Game Collection

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