How Does PS Plus Work?

stray video game title screen

When, in March 2022, PlayStation announced it would add two additional tiers to its PS Plus service, my mind treated it as a needless complication. God knows we all have enough happening in our lives—with what extra mental space was I supposed to figure out what these new tiers mean and whether I wanted to upgrade? Or whether I could afford you? When the new system launched in June, outlets essentially reported the new available games in the manner of, “AND THIS IS AVAILABLE FOR THIS, AND THIS FOR THIS, AND THIS IF YOU GO BACK TO THIS, AND THIS NEXT MONTH.” It did not help with that overwhelmed feeling.

And then—the PlayStation Store coyly suggested I upgrade to PS Plus Extra (WHAT?!) rather than buying Stray, everyone’s new favorite game, outright. Finally, I was pushed to consider the issue. Absolutely horrid semantics aside, I furiously began googling the difference between PS Plus Essential, PS Plus Extra, and PS Plus Premium. I did end up upgrading to PS Plus Extra.

First, I want to address one of my primary confusions with the whole PS Plus system. Sony makes this weirdly difficult to understand, s correct me if I’m wrong (kindly, please). Aim you do not “own” any games from any tier of PS Plus. As long as you have a PS Plus membership, you have access to them. But the second you delete that membership, you’re no longer able to access the games you acquired through PS Plus. sony will keep your save data in the cloud for six months, supposedly. Still, make sure to transfer any save data that you want to keep back to your console.

PS Plus Essential

Kratos and Atreus facing each other in God of War Ragnarök

PS Plus Essential is what PS Plus used to be, back in the day before the word “plus” needed modifiers to explain how much “plus” a certain “plus” tier is.

Essential gives you some basic useful tools. With Essential, you can play games online and have access to cloud storage for your save files. (Not that Cloud.) Additionally, Essential gives you access to discounts and—most importantly—a revolving door of monthly games. There are just a few every month, and these are not a library, like in Extra. They’re more like daily specials: when they’re gone, they’re gone. Excellent titles have cycled through Essential’s offerings, including God of War (2018) and Persona 5 Strikers. But it tends to be a little hit-or-miss every month. Essential games do hold the possibility of showing up on Extra later (examples being Final Fantasy 7 Remake and Control).

Now, let’s talk money. PS Plus Essential is $9.99 if you pay per month, or $59.99 for the year if you pay all at once.

PS Plus Extra

Promotional image from Stray

All of the perks featured in the new PS Plus tiers are additive. Meaning, Extra has everything from Essential, and Premium has everything from extra.

The huge perk of PS Plus Extra is the game library of PS4 and PS5 titles. Essential only gives you a few games a month, but Extra is on a whole different level, giving you access to over 400 titles. New titles are added to Extra every month. The flip side of this is that titles can leave Extra, too (one already has, and the service has only been around a month). But it’s like getting a library card and being able to try out a huge selection of games at your convenience, without owning them outright. This is pretty much like XBox’s Game Pass.

Who knows how often this will be the norm, but Stray—the game of cat-related joy and wonder—was placed on PS Plus Extra the very day of its release. Even beyond this excellent game, the library of PS Plus Extra games is nothing to scoff at either. The service allows you to play excellent games like Death Stranding: Director’s Cut, Ghost of Tsushima Director’s Cut, Guardians of the Galaxy, DOOM, Outer Wilds, and both Spiderman and Spiderman: Miles Morales. For me, personally, Stray + Death Stranding + Spidey was worth the cost of admission alone.

Extra costs a bit more: $14.99/month and $99.99/year. But if you think of that in terms of $30-60 games, that’s only one or two games you have to play through to justify the purchase. Honestly? I think it’s worth it, if you can afford the extra expense.

PS Plus Premium

If you upgrade all the way to PS Plus Premium, you get cloud streaming (gaming from the cloud, fancy!) and access to game trials. But the real feature you’re here for is the so-called Classics Collection. This is a set of over 300 PS1, PS2, PS3, and PSP games. For people who love retro gaming or just plain nostalgia—this one’s for you.

The best games to highlight here is access to the Devil May Cry series, as well as other classics like Resident Evil 4, Jak and Daxter 1-3, BioShock Remastered, Fallout 3, God of War 1 and 2, and Tekken 2. Surprisingly , there’s a lot of third-party, film-and-TV related games in here, too: who could ever forget Disney PIXAR Cars 2: The Video Game?

Premium is just a few bucks more than Extra: $17.99/month and 119.99/year. But in my personal opinion, unless you really want to take this jaunt down memory lane or retro games are your absolute jam, it’s not worth the extra expense.

Which One’s Worth It?

Before I started looking into all of this, I was a huge skeptic of the new tiers. But once I started thinking about it, the more I felt like PS Plus Extra is worth it. Yes, it’s a hefty $40 more annually than PS Plus Essential. But the absolutely massive library of current-gen games it opens up (four! hundred!) makes the small monthly lotteries of Essential still fun, yes, but almost laughable by comparison. Stray, by itself, is $30. I play one more game, and to my thinking, I’ve justified the expense.

You could just that same logic to justify jumping all the way up to Premium for an extra $20. But Extra gives you 400 freaking games. That’s about 390 more than I typically finish in a year. The question to ask here is: “do I really need 300 more games on top of that? 700 games?!” Maybe you do! Personally, I will just be thrilled if I actually finish Death Stranding this year.

Image credit: BlueTwelve Studio

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