Sony’s PlayStation Plus subscription service is due to launch in the U.S. on June 29, and Sony plans to charge users $50 a year to participate, or $18 for a three-month pass. But SOny is only now getting around to telling potential customers what the service will offer. In a nutshell: access to exclusive games and game content, as well as “free” monthly episodes of its high-def gaming lifestyle show “Qore.”
PlayStation Plus will be a paid supplement to Sony’s existing PlayStation Network online service: PSN will continue to be offered as a free “comprehensive entertainment service,” and Sony currently has no plans to change that. However, PlayStation Plus will offer enhanced access, including exclusive games and game content, discounts in the PS Store, exclusive offers to get access to demos, beta releases, and early purchases, full game trails, and automatic downloads.
PlayStation Plus game content will include PSN games, minis, and “PS One Classics” available via the PS Store. (If the PlayStation 3 had maintained compatibility with PS One and PS2 games, Sony wouldn’t be able to charge people a second time, would they?) Users will be able to download the games during the month-long windows of availability, and hang onto them as long as their PlayStation Plus subscription is paid-up. If a subscription lapses, users will get their downloaded games back if they re-subscribe. The service will also offer premium avatars, dynamic themes, and premium game add-ons: those will be users’ to keep forever.
PlayStation Store discount offers will range from an additional 20 to 50 percent off on selected purchases. Sony also says it will make every effort for PlayStation Plus subscribers to have first crack at betas and demos so they can taste new game content before the hoi polloi. The subscription will also include full game trails: users will be able to download entire games and try them out for a limited period (typically one hour, unless otherwise stated); if users decide to purchase the game, they’ll be able to step back into it right where they left off without starting over.
PlayStation Plus members will also be able to set their PS3 to wake up from standby at some convenient middle-of-the-night time and automatically download updates to games or content installed on the system, so users won’t have to worry about doing updates on their own time.
PlayStation Plus will go on sale June 29; a three-month package will be $17.99, while a one-year deal will run $49.99. Sony will be offering a three-month extension for folks signing up for a full year, making an initial full-year sign-up good for 15 months.