The New PS Plus Rollout Has Been A Mess So Far

Sony is making some big changes to PlayStation Plus. As announced in March, it’s essentially folding PlayStation Now into the service to make it a three-tier offering. Sony is gradually moving all PS Plus and PS Now subscribers over to the new model, but, for several reasons, things haven’t exactly gone smoothly thus far.

To recap, the base tier (PlayStation Plus Essential) is basically what PS Plus is now — you get online multiplayer access, cloud storage for save data, a couple of PS4 and PS5 games each month and discounts on the PlayStation Store. The middle tier is PS Plus Extra, which adds access to around 400 PS4 and PS5 titles from Sony and its partners.

At the highest end is PS Plus Premium. That includes everything from the other two tiers, along with game trials (ie access to play some notable games for several hours).

You also get access to a few hundred PS1, PS2, PS3 and PSP games, as well as cloud streaming on PS4, PS5 and PC for those and the PS4 titles from the Extra tier. One catch there is that PS3 games are only available to stream.

Sony’s cloud streaming service isn’t available in many countries. For now, people in those regions can sign up for the PlayStation Plus Deluxe service. That doesn’t include PS3 games, though it’s less expensive than the $18 per month or $120 per year Premium plan (or whatever the equivalent price would be).

That is all sort of clear to me, even if the new PS Plus is convoluted enough to require a 2,100-word FAQ to explain many of the basic points. However, some of the other aspects of the revamped service still remain murky.

Where Are The Rest Of The Games?

For one thing, Sony hasn’t announced the full list of games that’ll be available on each tier and in each country just yet. We’ll find out the full catalog soon enough, I’m sure, but it seems like a misstep not to reveal all of the titles in advance. People want to know what they’ll be able to play in exchange for their hard-earned money.

The company has released a partial list which, honestly, includes a lot of great games from across the various PlayStation generations. It still has hundreds more to reveal, too. Still, Sony said that the titles will vary by market. Being direct about which games are on offer in each country before launch will help players make more informed decisions about which tier to subscribe to.

At this stage, more clarity would be better than keeping some cards close to the chest. If there’s a title many people would be jazzed to revisit (for instance, Dino Crisis) that hasn’t been officially announced, wouldn’t it make more sense to let them know exactly what to expect and give them something to look forward to? Help players get excited for your new thing, Sony.

Slower Versions Of PS1 Games

The new PS Plus debuted in some Asian markets this week, and players learned some things that raised a few eyebrows.

For one thing, Sony added the PAL versions of some PS1 and PSP titles, which run slower and have a lower framerate than the NTSC format, as VGC reports. That’s not great!

Sony also opted to emulate the PAL versions of games on the PlayStation Classic console rather than their NTSC counterparts. At a time when many PS5 players are getting used to games running at 60 fps, dropping to 25 fps rather than at least the 30 fps of NTSC variants is a serious bummer. Here’s hoping Sony adds the NTSC versions instead.

The new PS Plus isn’t available in North America yet, so I haven’t tried it. That means I can’t speak to the performance of the games myself. This video, however, provides some interesting comparisons between how older titles look on their original platform compared with PS4, PS4 Pro and PS5. For instance, it does not seem that PS2 games are being upscaled to a higher resolution.

Paying The Price

An even bigger problem was how Sony initially handled upgrades to the higher tiers of PS Plus for some of those where the new service went live this week. Players who bought a subscription for the existing PS Plus at a discount were asked to make up the difference if they wanted to move to a higher tier. Those who stack annual PS Plus subscriptions for several years may have faced a hefty penalty for moving to Extra or Premium.

sony later said that was a “technical mistake” that it has rectified and “impacted players will receive a credit” (but seemingly not a refund). It might have been an honest mistake, but it’s a blemish that Sony didn’t need as it tries to encourage players to move to the higher tiers. I hope it offers those who were affected a better makegood.

Upgrade Confusion

Sony has done an okay job at explaining how existing plans will transfer to the new set up. But it hasn’t spelled out how upgrading and downgrading between plans will work.

My current PS Plus plan runs for a couple years. It does not seem like I’ll be able to pay the difference to upgrade to Extra for a couple of months so I can play the likes of Returnal and Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart, then go back to PS Plus Essential.

Based on what I’ve seen so far, I’m not ready to upgrade my subscription completely and potentially double what I’m paying for PS Plus right now.

It Doesn’t All Seem Bad?

There are some things I like from what we’ve seen so far. It’s cool to see trophies being added to older games (I’m sure trophy hunters will appreciate that too). Having the option to quick save some titles and rewind the action in a similar manner to Nintendo Switch Online games is neat too, as are custom video filters.

It’s understandable that Sony isn’t offering its first-party PS4 and PS5 games through PS Plus on release day, as Xbox does with its in-house titles on Game Pass. They have different business objectives. Sony needs to sell its blockbuster games the traditional way to make the math work. I think that’s fine. Those games will probably come to PS Plus at some point anyway.

PlayStation does have a stronger back catalog than Xbox, though. There are already some killer games I’m looking forward to revisiting, and many others I’ve long wanted to try.

Sony’s messaging about the new PS Plus service has been unclear at best. I think it’s a bit of a mess right now. I’m sure it’ll all smooth out in the weeks and months ahead as we learn exactly what this service is about, though.

I’m still curious to find out how the new tiers work in practice. It’s early days though, and even if things are rough now, I hope they improve. In addition, I’d like to see Sony will add some of its movies and TV shows to sweeten the deal.

I want the new PS Plus to be great. I hope Sony can live up to expectations, despite some early red flags.

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