PlaystationPlus: Sony's New Gaming Flat Rate Can Do That

One subscription service, three variants: Sony wants to simplify its payment service with the new PlayStation Plus. We reveal whether it's worth it - and what's still lacking.

PlayStation Plus, PlayStation Now, EA Play, Ubisoft+, PC Game Pass, Xbox Game Pass and Xbox Live Gold: For a number of years, gamers have been able to decide which subscription service from which provider they are willing to shell out money for. These are paid offers that are required either to be able to play with friends online in multiplayer mode or to gain access to additional old and new games that are included in the respective package.

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Since last week, Sony has also been offering a new subscription service for its PlayStation consoles. More precisely: the company has consolidated its previous services. Or even more precisely: There is only one subscription service on the PlayStation, but it has three different levels at different prices. Sound complicated? Don't worry, we'll explain the changes in detail - and tell you whether the offer is worth it.

Previously, PlayStation owners could choose between PlayStation Plus (monthly access to a small selection of games including multiplayer function) and PlayStation Now (streaming of hundreds of older PlayStation titles), but in future there will only be PlayStation Plus. This in turn is divided into PlayStation Plus Essential, Extra and Premium:

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PlayStation Plus Essential is the cheapest offer at 8.99 euros per month (or 59.99 euros per year) and is particularly interesting for those gamers who only want to play games like Fifa or Call of Duty with others online. In this subscription variant, the multiplayer function is included in the price, there is also the previous small selection of monthly games as well as various vouchers or discounts for content in the PlayStation Store and the option to save the progress of games in the cloud. Those who were previously PS Plus subscribers are now automatically included in PS Plus Essential. Free-to-play games like Fortnitecan still be played without Plus access, including online.

For five euros more, i.e. for 13.99 euros per month or 99.99 euros per year, PlayStation Plus Extra offers additional access to the not very creatively named "game catalogue": It contains older games for the PlayStation 5 and PlayStation 4, Of course, overall significantly more for the PS4 than the still comparatively young PS5. PlayStation Plus Premium is slightly more expensive at 16.99 euros per month or 119.99 euros per year. In return, in addition to the "game catalogue", subscribers also receive the "classic catalogue", which consists of around 350 games which, as the name suggests, go back to the days of the PlayStation 1. 

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Also, PS Plus Premium allows you to stream many of the games included in the package without having to download them. The premium package is the successor to PlayStation Now, so to speak, and current Now customers are actually classified as premium customers until the end of the previous payment period.

Is the new PlayStation Plus deal worth it?

With the new PlayStation Plus, Sony obviously wants to catch up with Microsoft's Xbox Game Pass. The console competitor launched the service in 2017 and has been regularly dubbed "Netflix for Games" ever since . Sony was able to keep up with the mass of included games with its previous flat rate offers, but many of them were just classics, while Xbox Games included more current games.

The new offer is intended to close the gap. A look at the German PlayStation Plus Extra games catalog shows at least a few well-known titles: Death Stranding is also on offer, as is the horror roguelike Returnal, which was released last year, the hardcore game Demons's Souls, Spiderman: Miles Morales, which was released together with the PS5, and the critically acclaimed open world adventure Ghost of Tsushima. There are titles from the Far Cry, Uncharted and Assassin's Creed game series, some celebrated indie games such as Outer Wilds, Celeste or Hello Neighborand also some games for children, such as Lego Batman 3 or Little Big Planet 3.

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In short: It is a thoroughly illustrious selection of older and newer games and blockbusters, some of which, of course, do not all come from the in-house PlayStation universe. Therein lies both the attraction and the problem. People who buy a PlayStation for the first time can of course continue to buy all games individually. Nevertheless, the PS Plus Extra flat rate should actually be attractive for simply trying out different genres and games. And with the included open-world games alone, you can easily spend several months as a casual gamer and it's cheaper than buying all the titles individually. But watch out: Some games are only included in the flat rate for a limited time.

For long-time console owners, the offer should come as little surprise in comparison; they probably already have PlayStation blockbusters like God of War or Uncharted 3 or titles like Red Dead Redemption 2 in their collection anyway. You have to weigh up whether the subscription price of just under 100 euros per year is still worth it. In addition, as other testers note, with games like Uncharted 4, only the PS4 versions are available to subscribers, although the higher-quality PS5 versions exist.

Even the third level, PlayStation Plus Premium, doesn't look quite right at the start. The classic catalog consists mainly of PlayStation 3 titles; of the first two consoles, there are only about 35 games at launch. The PS3 collection, on the other hand, is quite large, as with PlayStation Now, but still lacks some classics like Tomb Raider.

How does PlayStation Plus compare to Xbox Game Pass?

Some of the classics can be streamed, some downloaded, some both. Anyone who decides to stream not only needs a correspondingly fast internet connection, but also some tolerance for frustration: In the test, there were always small dropouts and the frame rate seemed to fluctuate at times - by the way, both with the 21-year-old Dark Cloud and the four-year-old God of War. Maybe that was due to the tester's internet connection, but maybe it was also because game streaming just isn't quite mature yet.

The biggest shortcoming in direct comparison to the Xbox Game Pass, however: Sony still does not offer any current in-house games as part of the Plus subscription, but at most test versions of them. While Microsoft packed games from its own studios into its Game Pass on the day of release, you won't find current games like Horizon: Forbidden West on PlayStation Plus. That's a conscious decision, Sony officials say, but for users it seems a bit like Netflix doesn't release its own hit series Stranger Things as part of the subscription, but instead charges extra money for it.

The bottom line is that Sony still has room for improvement when it comes to gaming subscriptions. Above all, the surcharge for the premium package should only be of interest to absolute lovers of classics. On the other hand, for most gamers and especially for console newbies, PlayStation Plus Extra might be the best choice. Overall, PlayStation Plus comes a little closer to the competing Xbox Game Pass with the change, but it can't quite keep up with current titles.

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