FFD: Is PlayStation Plus doing more harm than good?

2 min read


Sony’s PlayStation Plus is undeniably, unquestionably fantastic value for gamers. For the paltry sum of $50 a year (or less, if you shop smart), you can supercharge your PlayStation devices by getting a wealth of relatively new games for free.

Recent additions to the service, such as the excellent Sleeping Dogs and Square-Enix stable mate Hitman Absolution are just months old – and now they’re available to gamers for the cost of nothing. Ron Gilbert’s adventure game The Cave was released at the end of January this year – and that’s already fee on the service’s “Instant Game Collection”

If you own a PlayStation Vita, things get even better. Four out of the five games I consider essential on the platform; Uncharted: Golden Abyss, Gravity Rush, Wipeout 2048 and Lumines Electronic Symphony are available for download (for the record, the other one is LittleBigPlanet Vita) – negating the need for anybody to actually buy those games at retail price.

And that’s the problem. I’ve been noticing a great number of comments from people along the lines of “Why should I buy games, when I could just wait for them to hit PlayStation Plus?” and equally, a number of people lamenting the fact that they had bought said games, only for them to be offered for free just months later.

Gamers, traditionally, are the sort who have to play things on day one – but in the current economic climate, more and more gamers are willing to wait. And with PlayStation Plus, if they wait long enough they don’t have to pay a thing.

In an industry that’s driven by release window sales (take a look at Tomb Raider being considered unsuccessful because it only managed 3.4 million units in sales in its launch month), it could be reasonably argued that PS+ is doing real harm to the industry. It’s fantastic for consumers, make no mistake, but possibly damaging for video games as a business.

What do you think? Is PS+ doing more harm to the industry than good?

Last Updated: April 12, 2013

Geoffrey Tim

Editor. I’m old, grumpy and more than just a little cynical. One day, I found myself in possession of a NES, and a copy of Super Mario Bros 3. It was that game that made me realise that games were more than just toys to idly while away time – they were capable of being masterpieces. I’m here now, looking for more of those masterpieces.

  • Sir Rants-a-Lot Llew

    Before I comment because I am ignorant….

    Doesn’t sony still pay the royalties for the games they are putting up for free? Or at least got the permission of the publishers/devs to do so? Surely by that point the game has already made its money and so can afford it?

    As I said, ignorance here. Just wondering.

    • Marketing, jou lekker ding

    • Ya neh, I’m sure PS+ pays a percentage of the downloads to the developers, in turn they get ginormous exposure for their game, which is win/win especially if they also have payable DLCs available for that title.

      My question is: Is PS+ used more by the rich-first-adopter type gamer who likes getting the free games that they wouldn’t normally bother to buy. Or is PS+ used by the poor peeps who are just waiting for the free games and thats all they can afford?

      • Sir Rants-a-Lot Llew

        Probably a mix of both.

        If Sony is paying the developers for the game then the developers should still be making a profit. So it’s not too bad. And the game won’t appear free unless Sony has made the money or the game hasn’t sold enough retail copies yet.

        So I can’t see it damaging the industry.

        What I can see it doing is destroying yet another support structure for brick and mortar shops. Another nail in the coffin. Which is very sad for me.

  • Milesh Bhana

    it would be interesting to know what the dev/publishers get when Sony offers the game for free. I’m assuming Sony gives them a few dollars per download which is funded from the PSN subscriptions?

  • Admiral Chief Erwin

    Not applicable to me, but curious as to what will get commented here.

    *waits in anticipation*

  • AndriyP

    I have no idea lol

  • DieJason

    I can wait. But I have to wait for a sale in a retail outlet since I have no PS3 😛

  • Well you know … I’m not against Digital Downloads In all actuality :O I do share the Sentiment that Playstation + is hurting the industry but not In any major way I think, as most gamers do not want to wait that long to play a game, Companies are insane to expect 5-6 million sold in the first week or so. if they adjust sales margins to reflect sale over a longer period surely they wouldn’t consider these games a loss.

    I think Digital Downloads are awesome, I get to play games that are no longer available and hard to find. I find it awesome I can download Digital Devil Saga and Odin Sphere.

    Just as long as they don’t cut out Discs, which I don’t think they will

  • I think plus is a great system. I get to play games that I usually never would.I do not buy the game but more often than not I end up buying the DLC for the game. I still buy some games on release. Mutant blobs attack was the reason why I bought Guacamelee. If it wasn’t for plus I probably wouldn’t have bought Mutant blobs attack or Guacamelee. Also the additional discount plus members gets makes my budget feel a bit better

  • eXpZA

    I struggle to understand how PS+ benefits developers. I guess they’ll make some cash back in DLC, but the base game goes to the consumer at a fraction of the cost (PS+ Subscription divided by total free games in a year minus Sony’s cut).

    Fascinating business model.

    • Even DLC is free on PS+. Its dished out like a soup kitchen but never the less!

    • Jim Lenoir (Banana Jim)

      You’ll notice that the tiles that go “free” on PS+ have already spent at least 4 or months months as retail. At that stage, sales are a lot less, and since the vast majority of them are only free for a month, two things happen (a) it revitalises the game’s MP – StarHawk is an excellent example. You suddenly have an influx of players, and since many of the games come with DLC, you presumably have some sales as well. (b) it’s only free for a month, and the title is only active as long as your PS+ subscription is active, so there’s incentive to keep your subscription active.

  • Ultimo_Cleric_N7

    Again, I dont have a PS, but I will share my thoughts:
    I think you raise a very good point. While in the past people couldnt wait and HAD to play the game ASAP, I think in the past 3 or so years this has changed quite dramatically. Unless its one of your favourite franchises, many gamers (PS or not) are willing to wait for the price to come down.
    I STILL havent played Arkham City because I am wating for the GOTY edition to go on special. Same with AC 3, same with Dishonored. I only bought Farcry 3 because it was on special at BT games (glad I did though!!!)
    The truth is that, for the most part, people are getting smarter in terms of value for money. The current economic climate has force many to change their habits. This is also why many games Special Editions are not selling as much as the developers thought they would. Gamers are just buying the regular editions.
    Will I still buy Mass Effect 4 or the new Starcraft on day one? YES. but as for most other games, I can wait…….

  • One of my biggest regrets was selling my PS and specifically because of PS+ lurved it.

  • Deon Steyn

    I love the service, There are games out there I would never even buy because I am just not sure enough if I will enjoy it like Amaterasu.It’s a very fun game so obviously I would consider the sequel. Sony obviously pays the publisher per download so they make some money back I would think. It’s a great service that I still can’t beleive exits today.

  • Aussious

    The most Important thing is that the consumer wins as opposed to Xbox live , Gawd I can’t wait for this Gen to be over. I don’t care what the next Xbox doesn’t or doesn’t do MS is Neva getting another cent of my hard earned money!

    • Jim Lenoir (Banana Jim)

      Jeez dude… 🙁 I know how that feels. I can definitely relate to just feeling shafted. I remember we’ve had many fights on Lazygamer, but today as a fellow gaming bro, I give you an online hug and brofist.

      • Ultimo_Cleric_N7

        Geez Jim, getting soft in your old age hey.

        • Jim Lenoir (Banana Jim)

          🙁 It’s the soya milk.. I fear the phyto-oestrogen is turning me into one of those sensitive hippy-types.

          • matthurstrsa

            Are the nipples sensitive? Just gotta watch the nipples.

      • Aussious

        Haha Brothers till the end…

    • BeatzByChrisBrown

      Cannot agree more. As a previous Xbox diehard, paying to use Internet Explorer was the piece of straw that broke the camel’s back.

      • extermin8or2

        wait I don’t own an xbox360- so let me get this straight as I did not know this-you have to PAY to use internet explorer….?!! wtf-how much?

        • You have to have an XBL Gold account.

    • BeatzByChrisBrown

      Look at this amazing game (Ryse):


      It’s amazing until the reveal that it’s a kinect game, then it turned into absolute garbage! That’s why Sony will get my money.

    • Edonus

      This is why Sony has the worst base. They are more concerned with what the competition is doing wrong as opposed to what Sony is doing right.

      Basically this blog has nothing to do with XBL( a lucrative and success full service I might add).
      Why even mention it. Its like in order to justify your loyalty to Sony you have filter it through what MS does. So in that fact MS has more influence over you than you would like to think.

      Really… Why even bring MS in to this.

      • Robbie

        Welcome to the pathetic life of the N4G PS3tard. Now that this article is on N4G, you can expect all sorts of ridiculous lies and overhype from the Sony fanbase. They truly are the saddest people on the planet.

      • Russell Gorall

        I don’t know, why the hell are you bringing MS into this?

  • Trevor Davies

    It would be interesting to find out how many people have bought PS hardware because of the PS+ service. Once your hardware is in & people are happy with it, they’re less likely to go to your competitor.

  • Jim Lenoir (Banana Jim)

    I can’t fault PS+, and to think we have those lovable little children, Lulzsec to thank for SONY getting its act together, redesigning PSN and essentially providing the PREMIER online gaming platform to date. Those that insist that xbox live still has this crown, are tikheads, and by rights they should be committed for their insanity and obvious drug addiction.

    However, while Geoff brings up a good point about PS games eventually becoming “free” through the PS+ subscription, my major issue with PS+ and its success, is what that means for the PS4. WIll we still have a free online gaming experience? Or will Sony adopt Microsoft dismal model of locking basic online gaming into a pay-to-play model.

    The other problem with the free games is that they are digital versions. Now as a collector, while it’s an awesome way to play games you wouldn’t normally have bought, I actually like to have a disk in my hand. I love the smell when you pop that disk case open, and you get that delightful plastic aroma. I love the little mini-booklets that come with the games, and more importantly I love the security of knowing that if the service does buckle and die, I can still play my games whenever I want to.

    • Deon Steyn

      I belive that if Sony continues this model on the PS4 and still not charge to play online people will take notice. That’s bad news for MS

      • Jim Lenoir (Banana Jim)

        I hope so, although I’ll remain cautiously optimistic..

        • extermin8or2

          EU Blog manager said before the PS4 was even announced that PS Plus was a big part of Sony’s PSN plans over the next year or so and that any new console would have some form of support for it- if not the full deal on release.

    • Verrayne

      I use plus as a demo system. If there is a game I really want I’l get it on release day and I’l have the collector’s edition as well.

      I started playing sleeping dogs this past week which I got with plus. The game is so cool I have to add it to my collection now.

      • Jim Lenoir (Banana Jim)

        Yeah, I actually bought Dead or Alive 5 because of the PS+ free version. It’s actually weird when you think about it, that you’d still go out and buy a game even though you get the free version.

        Now, I’m not saying everyone does this, and I have feeling only a small minority is this passionate about their games, but it is a side of the PS+ coin that does exist.

    • Aussious

      True James this future of digital everything really puts me off… nothing like blowing the dust off an old PS game paging through the manual before popping the disk in the console. What happened to game manuals by the way I don’t buy the whole trying to save trees bullshit.

    • extermin8or2

      PS4 will have the same features PS3 and PS Vita have free I reckon and some of these new social/cloud features will become part of PS plus which I think will roughly continue to have the same content that it gives us now- plus some added features. However games wise I’m not sure how that will work on the PS4’s release, after all ALL the games will be new… and Sony will likely be taking a hit on ps3s and recouping via games sales- so maybe they will have some indie games lined up that they’ve subsidised costs for with he developer, and/or some content that’ll be exclusive to PS4-or maybe like with Vita it will take about 6 months before the service supports PS4-after all they did say not all the GAIKAI services will be there day one but be rolled out over several months; so if we assumed the main ones that would cost £ as part of PS plus are out by June 2014- PS plus would then likely be added to PS4 around E3 next year?

  • FoxOneZA – The Chosen One

    Those same games could also be given for free with other games when purchased on disc. What ever happened to Blu Ray being so large that Sony could fit multiple games on it? The PSN+ model will fall flat in the next gen when games are going to get larger and larger.

  • fred

    Ps+ made me not even bother to fix my blu ray drive , so many good games for free I don’t even have enough time to play them , all for 30 rand per month , the price of a burger.. Downloaded The cave , LOTR War in the North , ME3 , Okami HD yesterday , all for free … it is bonkers , not sure who is losing out … maybe those without a PS3 and Vita.

  • silverscorpio

    I recently joined PS+ and I must say I am impressed by the service. Having to pay for automatic updates is pretty lame but the games are nice. I will go on with it should the PS4 offer the same but the price must stay the same.

    Microsoft will not get my money because my original Xbox 360 RROD within a year and after that the laser stopped working. Microsoft shafted me on both occasions. No more money to inferior products even if they give me products like PS+. i SIMPLY DO NOT TRUST THE BRAND ANYMORE.

    • Liarliarpantsonfire

      Typical PS fanboy lies. Your warranty was 3 years for RROD and related problems.

  • Melasco

    I don’t work for Sony or anything, and I don’t have time right now to do some research on this, but I am a business person, I love to analyze, I’m a PS3 gamer and a PS+ member. These are my thoughts on the matter:

    I’m very sure there is a fine tuned economic model behind PS+ allowing a specific amount of games to be funded from the subscription. The true value to Sony is not necessarily in the cash from monthly subscriptions, but in the overall value proposition the Playstation brand offers, and therefore attracting more gamers to Playstation. For less than the price of one new game, each PS+ member, will find at least a few titles there they’ll love, and have not played before.

    The developers probably get a small slice of the pie from Sony for each account that downloads their game, but think about it this way: Let’s say Bioware gets R10 for each copy of ME3 downloaded via PS+, that’s a sale with no selling and distribution costs, no manufacturing cost for the disc and it’s case, no middleman costs from retailers, no defective returns, nothing. It’s a clean R10 in the bank… Way better than a second hand sale where they don’t get anything…

    I don’t know guys, sounds like a pretty solid deal to me for everyone involved, especially the gamer…

  • Coody

    PS+ must be making money or the publishers wouldnt keep putting their games up for us every month. Also, i have 100 maxed out friends and now at least 3/4 of them have PS+ whereas before it changed at E3 2012 hardly any of them did. Publishers – imo – put games up, for the most part either just before a sequel or another game theyve made is launched. They also do it for DLC sales too i think.

    But, my major suspicion with PS+ is that PS have made an agreement maybe with these publishers that they can increase their prices for their new releases. Especially here in EU. Our PS+ is so much better than SCEAs but new games are starting to be priced at £59.99! That smells fishy to me.



    • Aussious

      That seems to be the industry buzz word lately

  • aXa

    They are also available at cost close to nothing @ retail, you can pick up both games brand new for $20 each so whats the problem ?

  • Holyfire

    Nothing is free. If ur picking up several titles for essentially free, devs are gonna get their money back later with more DLC or inflated prices for future titles. This scenario doesn’t bode well for PS4 game prices, cant build powerhouse games and sell em all cheap via a ‘plus’ service.
    Sooner or later PS4 software will cost the consumers more.

  • plsburydoughboy

    I was speculating they were going for a restaurant buffet style model with PS Plus, but I must admit, that’s just speculation, and even then I wouldn’t know if the math works.

    If Sony has a way of making this profitable, they haven’t explained it to us yet. Maybe if it comes up in Sony’s next financial quarterly report, but we wouldn’t know that it would.

  • PS Plus does hurt the industry a bit. I enjoy the free games. There is a catch though, you have to keep the service in order to keep the games. I think Sony should restrict the PS3 freebies to greatest hits titles instead of games that just a few months old.

  • Another way to look at things here, is that PS+ gave me the opportunity to play many great games that I would never have bought otherwise. And then spreading the word – I also write about it on my blog – helps the industry selling them (at least I hope so). PS+ is a great deal, I’m more than happy with it, so let’s not complain about it.

  • Greed is the basic theme in this discussion. Although, I am not subscribed to ps+ I still think there is great value on that business model. I don’t think either that the companies who makes games are losing money on their games because it’s free on psn. Having said that, just how mamy hardcore gamers play games? 2,5,10? A month, a day, a year? This is why I’m not a ps+ member. Even though I know there are good games for free, doesn’t mean I have to subscribe to ps+ to play them. I buy my games on discs. But there are people that can’t have that kind of luxury and PS+ is a very good deal for them. The thing is, it’s like Netflix. Once you unsubscribe, you don’t get free movies anymore. Which is why most people actually compare it to Xbox live. On xbox, you have to pay at least 50$ to play online. Isn’t that greed or what?

  • brownechr

    Someone wondered if hardware sales were driven by PS+ – the only reason I bought a Vita was to get the PS+ games on it – I haven’t purchased a single Vita game currently have 7 games on it. I have occasionally bought DLC for PS+ games and on 2 occasions I have purchased a game based on a previous version free on PS+, so I’m sure the model works.

  • brownechr

    Someone wondered if hardware sales were driven by PS+ – the only reason I bought a Vita was to get the PS+ games on it – I haven’t purchased a single Vita game currently have 7 games on it. I have occasionally bought DLC for PS+ games and on 2 occasions I have purchased a game based on a previous version free on PS+, so I’m sure the model works.

  • brownechr

    Someone wondered if hardware sales were driven by PS+ – the only reason I bought a Vita was to get the PS+ games on it – I haven’t purchased a single Vita game currently have 7 games on it. I have occasionally bought DLC for PS+ games and on 2 occasions I have purchased a game based on a previous version free on PS+, so I’m sure the model works.

  • PS Plus has its ups and downs but the best thing about it is free games each week… more than what i can say about xbox live which gives you nothing period except maybe a red ring of death

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