Sony recently increased the price of their PlayStation Plus service from $49.99 a year to $59.99 a year and, in the process, brought it even with the cost of Microsoft’s Xbox Live Gold membership plan. This move, as is so often the case with any raise in price for a good or service, did not necessarily make people happy.
Of course, this increase in price by $10 is nothing compared to the increase in price by $50 that gamers initially experienced when the PlayStation Plus concept was introduced. Yes, there was actually a time when the idea of online play on consoles was young that manufacturers charged their users nothing to play their favorite games online. When people found out that would no longer be the case, they were not happy.
In that moment, someone at Sony had the absolutely brilliant idea to start giving online subscribers two free games every month. All of a sudden, people weren’t saying “Why am I paying for something that used to be free,” they were saying “Oh, I’m paying for 12 games a year at a greatly reduced price and still getting the same online service.” With that, the people were happy once again.
It’s probably no coincidence, then, that the PlayStation Plus free games for October (the first month the price increase will go into effect) are Resident Evil HD and Transformers: Devastation; two games that have been met with incredible review scores and generally high acclaim from everyone that has played them. In comparison, the last few months of free games have been filled with titles that many people never heard of until they were free (some exceptions notwithstanding).
It’s easy to say that Sony upped the quality of their free games in order to take the sting off the price increase. That probably does have something to do with it. However, this feels like less of an apology and more of a sign of things to come.
Sony, as a company, is in bad shape at the moment and are seeing falling profits in every nearly every division not associated with the PlayStation. This increase in PlayStation Plus price will certainly help them in the maximize their PlayStation profits, but as we see in the increase in free game quality, that doesn’t mean that it can’t be a good thing for consumers as well. This increase will not only lead to apology games in the short-term, but in the long-term will make it easy for Sony to invest in a better service, more features, and even the next generation of consoles.
Who knows? Maybe it will even inspire someone to come up with this generation’s free games.