One of the biggest draws to the PlayStation 3 is all of the content that is provided for a very minimal fee through PlayStation Plus. Sony was praised heavily when it came about back at E3 mid-last year and the masses flocked to claim the content offered, which seems to get better and better each passing month. Both the PlayStation 3 and the PlayStation Vita, which was later announced as being supported, have seen a slew of titles hit the market and the slogan of the “Instant Game Collection” is as accurate of statement that there could be. The biggest question after the announcement of the coming system, the PlayStation 4, is will there be an announcement at E3 a year later about the support of PlayStation Plus for the next iteration in the franchise’s console offering? Are we going to see the same support right off the bat for the PS4, or will it take time for Sony to back the next system with games that are designed for the PS4 with PlayStation Plus? Lets take a look at what options that Sony has and what we, as gamers, might be in-store for.
The option that gamers are most inclined to be hoping for is the fact that Sony will jump in head first and offer, not only backwards compatibility with all the software that is offered on the PlayStation 3 as well as offer a title or two that will show off that shinny new hardware. The biggest hurdle to overcome is the potential costs for doing something as simple as this. When jumping out of the gates and offering a brand new title that is costing most of the public between the rumored $60-70 that a next gen game will cost would increase the number of subscribers, but decrease revenue; a double edged sword. The pressing inquiry that must be considered is whether or not Sony will decided to charge for online play and whether it will be factored into a service such as PlayStation Plus or whether there will be an extra cost to subscribe for the bonus content. This seems to be the most likely scenario as Sony will undoubtedly be forced to consider the losses that they have endured by not pressing consumers for a fee to play online, something that Microsoft has easily convinced the public to do with 22 Million people on their list of subscribers today worldwide. Not only that, with the increases in services such as the social networking content and focus around a more stable and interactive community planned for the future there is a strong chance that we will see some sort of cost to play like an Xbox Gold. The excess cost that could be put on top may be something that consumers are still willing to pay for, but could be quite a bit more substantial to all of our pocketbooks. A price tag in the realm of $99.99 per year for online content as well as PlayStation Plus is not out of the question.
Another possibility is that we see Sony only offer it for continued PlayStation 3 loyalists. There is no question that the support, no matter the side that you are on Microsoft or Sony, will remain for the current generation; at least for the time being. The continuation of the Plus service on the PlayStation 3 is enough alone to keep the system healthy even after it’s predecessor comes out, but the chances that the service lives and dies with the prior could be more likely than any want to admit. Should that be the case, the PlayStation ten-year lifecycle would prove to be in full force as there would continue to be affordable options for gamers that don’t want to make the immediate jump. The support from developers looks to be on the side of the current generation, probably better than any generation to this point so the chances of them continuing the support of the systems on the market today is inevitable.
There is the chance that Sony does as all of us want Sony to do and brings the Plus service to the PlayStation 4 but waits to bring the service forward until consumers and the market enjoys it’s first round of price cuts for games, especially first party. Sony made their market with outstanding titles for the PlayStation 3 that were exclusives to the console which is one of the key contributors to keeping the system alive during the early stages in which it struggled. The key to PlayStation Plus was the solid first party offerings that Sony brought forth at E3 last year and built the foundation for what subscribers know today, so to bring the product to the next generation will take much of the same for those that have never been a part of it to this point. Considering this fact, Sony may hold it’s cards back and rest on excitement of the system itself and bring forth the offering when it proves more cost effective which is probably the second likeliest scenario for the service but the one that gamers hope for the most as this would be the best chance for gamers to pay the same cost they do now, and enjoy the free content they have for online play.
While everyone can hope that PlayStation Plus is something that sticks around, from a cost standpoint it may not be effective for the company to do so. The best scenario for all is that the service sticks around even if it means that our wallets all feel a bit lighter at the end of the day. The best thing for the PlayStation brand is Plus as it builds a loyalty that can not be understated and provides the consumers with something of value that can’t be replaced. Hopefully this is something going forward that we don’t lose as there is not a better game collection available for $60 a year or even double that amount.