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The New PlayStation Plus Subscriptions Are A Decent Start But The Future Is Still Unclear

A quick look at the current state of PlayStation Plus Extra/Deluxe

PlayStation has finally rolled out its new PlayStation Plus Australia. Subscribers are now able to access the three new options of PlayStation Plus Essential, Extra and Deluxe with various benefits to each.

You can read all about the ins and outs of each tier here, but in the lead up to the local launch I thought I’d look at the offering as it should look on launch day and whether it’s worth getting in on the ground floor or waiting until the service has properly established itself. I’ve been able to experience the new PS+ for myself for most of the last month thanks to its launch in other regions, checking out its current library of games including the PlayStation Classics available through the most expensive Deluxe tier and feeling out the value of it all as it is now.

The PS4/PS5 Games Library (Extra/Deluxe Tiers)

Included in both the Extra and Deluxe tiers is a library of PS4 and PS5 games that contains first-party and third-party titles from AAA to indie and pretty closely resembles what you’d expect from something like Xbox Game Pass – with one big exception. Yes, the lack of ‘day one’ PlayStation Studios titles on the service is a touch disappointing in comparison to Xbox’s commitment to launching all their first party-games on Game Pass, but funnily enough the first-party offering on PS+ Extra/Deluxe is arguably better than what’s on XGP at present.

Looking strictly at current-gen first-party games released since the launch of the PS5 and Xbox Series X|S, there are four on Game Pass (Psychonauts 2, Forza Horizon 5, Halo Infinite, Microsoft Flight Simulator) versus the following six on PS+ Extra:

  • Death Stranding Director’s Cut
  • Demon’s Souls
  • Destruction AllStars
  • Ghost of Tsushima: Director’s Cut
  • Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales
  • Returnal

Despite the Xbox titles being day one launches, it’s not hard to see that the value equation still doesn’t quite stack up when it comes to first party games – it’s an advantage that PlayStation has had long since before the subscription service battle heated up but it’s reiterated here. Even as Game Pass continues to add more quality Xbox Game Studios launches to its roster the wellspring of already-existing content on PS5 like Horizon Forbidden West and Gran Turismo 7 is still there for PlayStation to pull from whenever it decides to. Multiple top-tier PlayStation Studios games that still command fairly eye-watering retail prices included in a AUD $18.95/month subscription is fairly convincing value even if they’re not being rolled in day-and-date.

As far as third party content goes, a mix of titles from a number of publishers plus a special catalogue of Ubisoft+ classics titles puts the PlayStation offering on a pretty even keel with Game Pass here. There are some big-name titles like Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy that you’ll find on both, and both offer the same unique opportunities to check out underrated indie gems like The Artful Escape and Outer Wilds, so in that respect I’d say that so far what’s on PS+ Extra/Deluxe is doing a decent job at keeping up. It doesn’t quite feel like there are as many cool, unique indie games to discover here as there are on Xbox, most likely just due to stuff like Sable, Floppy Knights and Genesis Noir being Xbox console exclusives currently. Still, I can see people using the subscription to check out games they normally wouldn’t fork out full price for in much the same way – Lawn Mowing Simulator, anyone?

What’s going to make the difference going forward is, well, whatever we see going forward. PlayStation says it’ll be updating its offerings twice a month between the Essential, Extra and Deluxe tiers and so which titles are rotated in and out is going to be crucial to the continued valued of the service. We already know of at least one big-hitter indie game coming in the form of Stray, which is a pretty compelling offering on its own. If PlayStation can keep up that level of indie/AA day one launches on PS+ at the same rate as we see on Game Pass I’d definitely be inclined to hold onto my subscription.

We don’t have a full list yet of which games are launching in Australia with PlayStation Plus Extra/Deluxe but you can see what should be a match for it here. It’s a pretty huge library to start out with!

PlayStation Classics and Game Trials

So while the games catalogue available to everyone in the Extra tier and up is quite compelling, what of the benefits afforded to those forking out for the more expensive Deluxe version? While we’re already on the back foot locally in comparison to regions where the upper tier is called Premium and offers PS3 games via cloud streaming, we’re still getting the added benefits of a library of PS1, PS2 and PSP titles as well as downloadable Game Trials for an extra AUD $2 a month.

The big draw here is obviously going to be the selection of Classics, but this is where the service is probably most lacking at the moment. With 13 PS1 titles, 24 PS2 titles and a single PSP game (as of the current global rollout) it’s not an enormous catalogue. There are definitely some top-notch titles in the mix like Ape Escape, Resident Evil Director’s Cut, Syphon Filter, Tekken 2 and the Jak & Daxter games but PlayStation is really going to have to double down on its commitment to delivering a quality retro library to keep people interested.

Frustratingly, it’s more than likely we’ll also be subject to the same woeful PAL versions of PS1 titles as other regions that originally ran on the PAL standard, meaning games will run choppier and slower than they do for subscribers in the US or Japan. Unless PlayStation decides to start offering its users the choice between PAL or NTSC versions of the games down the track that’s going to be a big detractor here. Likewise, the bulk of the current PS2 catalogue is made up of games that were already available on PS4 as “PS2 Classics” and don’t always work properly on PS5. I tried downloading Ape Escape 2 from the PS+ Deluxe library to see if it was still largely unplayable on PS5 and sadly it was.

There’s definitely still some hope to cling to here, the addition of visual filters, save states and rewinds to all of the games as well as trophies for a select few (I was able to platinum Ape Escape which is pretty cool) is great, but support right now seems sporadic at best and it’s too early to tell if that’ll be the norm as time goes on. Unless you’re already all-in for the PS4/PS5 library and only out a couple extra bucks to upgrade to Deluxe, I wouldn’t go forking out for the purposes of playing these Classics just yet.

Game Trials, another benefit of the Deluxe tier, is an interesting and potentially very useful benefit for subscribers. This system essentially allows users to download full versions of games to their console and then play them for a set amount of time before being locked out until they decide to purchase them for good. It’s a smart way to get around the lack of ‘demo’ games in the modern market by literally just handing people the keys for a couple hours as a test drive. Better yet, if you decide to pay up for the game you’ve already got the full thing installed so you can just jump straight back in and all your progress and trophies unlocked during trial play are kept.

Right now the list of available trials is pretty small but it’s got stuff like Horizon Forbidden West, Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands and Uncharted: Legacy of Thieves Collection so it’s a good opportunity to have a razz of some high-profile titles. The only major downside, especially here in Australia, is that you’re downloading the full games which in a lot of cases are 50GB+ which is a big commitment to time and data for something you might delete after an hour or so.

The Verdict (So Far)

At launch, these new PlayStation Plus tiers are a fairly compelling if not overly surprising answer to Xbox’s Game Pass, but longevity will be key. In the few weeks that I’ve had access I’ve definitely felt like I got my money’s worth based on how much I’ve downloaded and played, but I can’t say how much longer I’ll feel that way without knowing what new games are being added down the track.

For now, I’d say the middle Extra tier is the way to go for anyone curious to try it out – the quality and selection of the Premium rung’s Classic titles just isn’t strong enough yet – with a commitment to a one or three-month stay probably the safest bet. I’ve no doubt that we’ll see some great content added to both the current-gen and retro line-ups as time goes on but it’s just too difficult to suggest taking a bigger plunge while that’s all still an unknown quantity.