Sony’s big PS Plus overhaul is here. It’s really cool. It could also use some work on some of its higher-profile perks, such as game demos and classic hits.
Announced in March, PS Plus 2.0 (not the official name but certainly the easiest shortcut) is a revamp of Sony’s disparate subscription services. Basically, it combines PS Now’s game streaming with PS Plus’s litany of perks. Although PS Plus 2.0 has been available in various markets for a few weeks, it was rolled out yesterday in the United States.
The pricing model is unnecessarily confusing
Before PS Plus 2.0 rolled out, observers reported that its tiered pricing model was more complicated than necessary. Short version: $10 a month gets you PS Plus Essential, more or less exactly what PS Plus was two days ago, and for the same price. $15 gets you access to PS Plus Extra, which includes a Netflix-style games-on-demand library with hundreds of PS4 and PS5 titles. And $18 a month gets you PS Plus Premium, adding the ability to stream games and check out limited-time game demos, plus access to a bunch of classic games from previous generations. (Here is an overview of what exactly you get with each level.)
Now that PS Plus 2.0 is here… yes, still confusing! Sony says it has offered prorated pricing for upgrades to higher tiers for people who already subscribe to PS Plus. You can upgrade directly from the PS Plus dashboard on your PS5; in fact, it’s the very first button.
I decided to upgrade to PS Plus Premium because that’s the tier with all the good stuff. (In the upgrade menu, you can tap the square button to see a handy list of compare and contrast between the level you’re at and the level you’re considering.) A pop-up informed me that a specific comic payment of $19.23 would cover a switch to Premium for the remaining four months of my plan. Supposedly it’s a “one-time amount”, but you know how it goes. We’ve all been burned by the fine print about recurring payments. I guess I’ll know for sure with next month’s credit card statement. Wish me good luck!
Strangely, after the upgrade, the PS Plus app crashed. I had to restart my PS5 to get it working again.
The playtests leave a lot to be desired
One of the biggest selling points of PS Plus Premium is the ability to test recently released big budget games. The list of launch day demos only includes two first-party games, one of which is a remastered set of two games that are otherwise available in full as part of the PS Plus Extra games library. Here is the full list of game demos currently available:
- Forbidden Horizon West
- The wonders of Tiny Tina
- WWE 2K22 (PS5 only)
- Uncharted: Legacy of Thieves (PS5 only)
- Hot Wheels Unleashed (PS5 only)
- Lego City undercover
- Farming Simulator 22
- MotoGP 22
- The cruel king and the great hero
- Elex II
- Crusader Kings III (PS5 only)
- Reinforced SpellForce III (PS5 only)
- OlliOlli World
Forbidden Horizon West and Cyberpunk 2077 offer five-hour trials. The rest of the games are playable for one to three hours. (Let’s listen to the biggest “lol” in the world at three o’clock Crusader Kings III enough time to figure out what it’s all about.) Sony has previously said more demos will be available over time. An April report suggested Sony starts mandating developers to create game trials that last at least two hours, but only if their game costs more than $34.
Backward compatibility offerings are slim
Another big selling point of the PS Plus Premium tier is its access to games from older PlayStation consoles. While over 300 PlayStation 3 games are available to stream, that’s the thing: they’re only available for streaming. (Sony recommends a minimum connection of 5 Mbps. You can also download and stream “hundreds” of PlayStation games from every other generation, including PS4 and PS5.) The resolution peaks at 720p, according to Ars-Technicais testing, although Sony says it can go up to 1080p, depending on your connection. And that’s to say nothing of the latency, however subtle, that tends to plague game streaming. Too bad the rich PS3 catalog is not downloadable.
Sony also hasn’t made it easy to find the full list of PS3 games. If you click on “classic games” in the “explore” submenu, you’ll be taken to the full list of games from the joint PlayStation, PlayStation 2, and PlayStation Portable catalog, which we’ll get to in a second. But if you scroll down to “all new PlayStation Plus perks” and click on the “classics catalog” banner, you’ll be taken to a second splash screen. PS3 games are listed on the second line. Scrolling all the way to the right will bring you to a “Show All Games” option.
I guess you can also search for the exact game you want to play, if you know it’s part of the game library. And once you stream a game, it will appear on your home screen as one of your most recent games. The PS5 currently limits this list to 10 icons.
Classic non-PS3 deals are, so far, paltry. By my count, there are 38 games across all three platforms (PS, PS2, and PSP). At the moment, even using the filter options (that little checkbox on the left side of the screen), there’s no way to filter by platform. For all intents and purposes, PS Plus 2.0 treats PS, PS2, and PSP games as undifferentiated “classics,” the same way you or I would look at 80°F, 85°F, and 90°F and say, ” Ah, weather shorts.”
(From the good side, recently appeared word that Sony fixed big presentation mistake it did in PS1 games as the new service rolled out to other regions. All games should now run at their intended speeds and frame rates.)
It’s unclear if Sony plans to expand classic offerings or make PS3 games downloadable. Sony representatives did not respond to a request for comment in time for publication.
But there’s a ton of potential here
Sony’s proprietary portfolio is obviously a huge boon to PS Plus, and many of the company’s most popular games are indeed part of the games library. In terms of the number of games you can play, the new on-demand games library (available on both PS Plus Extra and Premium) is impressive, borderline overwhelming.
It starts with the PS Plus Collection, a bundle of around 20 of some of the greatest PS4 games, available at no extra cost to PS Plus subscribers who own a PS5. It came to nothing, despite concerns it might have before PS Plus 2.0 rolled out.
In May, Sony unveiled the lineup of games heading to PS Plus 2.0’s on-demand games library. Now that the library is actually out, it’s clear that the full list is longer than expected.
The inclusion of a good part of Ubisoft’s portfolio, including the giant Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, definitely strengthens it. PS5 exclusives like Demon’s Souls and Return are also there, and (correctly) listed under the “must play” banner. At first glance, there is no shortage of indie hits: the psychologically sensational Observationthe exasperatingly hilarious squared deathfascinating storytelling Virginiathe delightfully minimalist Thomas was alone. Sony previously said Final Fantasy XV would be available, and it’s part of the lineup, but it turns out the service also has a ton of other entries in Square Enix’s flagship RPG series, including the landmark VII and X. Also worth noting: many of these games were previously listed on Microsoft’s competing Xbox Game Pass service—Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD literally just on the left – so I have to imagine that watchers will draw sharper comparisons between the two services’ offerings in the coming weeks.
Although it has its flaws, PS Plus 2.0 has solid potential. But this is only the beginning. I can’t wait to see how this will evolve in the weeks and months to come.