Sony’s major revamp of PS Plus is here. It’s pretty cool. It could also use some work on some of its most hyped perks, such as game demos and classic hits.
Announced in March, PS Plus 2.0 (not the official name but certainly the easiest shorthand) is a reworking of Sony’s disparate subscription services. Essentially, it combines the game streaming of PS Now with the litany of benefits of PS Plus. Although PS Plus 2.0 has been available in several markets for a few weeks now, it was rolled out in the United States yesterday.
The pricing model is unnecessarily confusing
Before the rollout of PS Plus 2.0, observers noted that the multi-tier pricing model was more complicated than it needed to be. Short version: For $10 a month you get PS Plus Essential – more or less exactly what PS Plus was two days ago, and for the same price. $15 gives you access to PS Plus Extra, which includes a Netflix-esque games-on-demand library with hundreds of PS4 and PS5 titles. And for $18 a month, you get PS Plus Premium, which lets you stream games and watch time-limited game demos, plus access to a ton of classic games from previous generations. †Here’s an overview of exactly what you get with each layer†
Now that PS Plus 2.0 is here…yes, still confusing! Sony says it offered pro-rated pricing for upgrades to higher tiers for those with an existing PS Plus membership. You can upgrade directly from the PS Plus dashboard on your PS5; in fact it is the very first button.
I decided to upgrade to PS Plus Premium because that’s the level with all the good stuff. (In the upgrade menu, you can tap the square button to see a handy compare-and-contrast list between what level you’re at and what level you’re considering.) A pop-up window told me that a comically specific payment of $19.23 would cover an upgrade to Premium for the remaining four months of my subscription. Presumably this is a “one time fee”, but you know how it goes. We’re all burned out by the fine print on recurring payments. I think I’ll know for sure with next month’s credit card statement. Wish me luck!
Oddly enough, the PS Plus app crashed after upgrading. I had to restart my PS5 to get it to work again.
Game trials leave a lot to be desired
One of the big selling points of PS Plus Premium is the ability to try out recently released games on a big budget. The launch day demos list only includes two first-party games, one of which is a remastered bundle of two games that are otherwise fully available as part of the PS Plus Extra game library. Here’s the full list of game demos currently available:
- Horizon Forbidden West
- Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands
- 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)
- SpellForce III reinforced (PS5 only)
- OlliOlli World
Horizon Forbidden West and Cyberpunk 2077 offer a five-hour trial. The rest of the games are playable for one to three hours. (Let’s hear the world’s biggest “lol” at three o’clock from Crusader Kings III have enough time remotely to understand what it’s all about.) Sony has said before that more demos will become available over time† An April report suggested Sony begins to require developers to create trial versions of games that last at least two hours, but only if their game costs more than $34.
Backwards compatibility offerings are thin
Another big selling point of the PS Plus Premium tier is access to games from older PlayStation consoles. While there are over 300 PlayStation 3 games available to stream, that’s the thing: they’re nothing but available to stream. (Sony recommends a minimum connection of 5 mbps† You can also download and stream “hundreds” of PlayStation games from every other generation, including from the PS4 and PS5.) The resolution comes out at 720p, according to Ars Technicais testing, although Sony says it can go up to 1080p depending on your connection. Not to mention the latency, subtle as it may be, that often plagues game streaming. It’s a pity that the rich PS3 catalog is not available for download.
Sony has also not made it easy to find the full list of PS3 games. Clicking on ‘classic games’ in the ‘explore’ submenu will take you to the full list of games from the joint PlayStation, PlayStation 2 and PlayStation Portable catalogue, which we’ll get to in a moment. But if you scroll down to “all new PlayStation Plus perks” and click on the “classics catalog” banner, you’ll be presented with a second startup screen. The PS3 games are in the second row. Scrolling all the way to the right will take you to the “show all games” option.
I suppose 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 show up on your home screen as one of your most recently played games. The PS5 currently limits that list to 10 icons.
The classic not-for-PS3 offering is a pittance so far. By my count, there are 38 games from all three platforms (PS, PS2, and PSP). At the moment, even by using the filter options (that little checkmark on the left side of the screen), there is no way to filter by platform. By all accounts, PS Plus 2.0 views PS, PS2, and PSP games as undifferentiated “classics,” in the same way you or I would look at the temperatures of 80º F, 85º F, and 90º F and say, “Ah, short pants it again.”
(On the plus side, word has recently appeared that Sony has been fixed the big presentation blunder it made in PS1 games during the rollout of the new service in other regions. All games should now run at their intended speeds and framerates.)
It’s unclear whether Sony has plans to expand the classic offering, or make PS3 games downloadable. Sony representatives did not respond to a request for comment in time for publication.
But there is a lot of potential here
Sony’s first-party portfolio is clearly a huge boon to PS Plus, and many of the company’s most popular games are indeed part of its game library. In terms of the sheer number of games you can play, the new games-on-demand library (available with both PS Plus Extra and Premium) is impressive, verging on overwhelming.
It starts with the PS Plus Collection, some twenty batches of some of the biggest PS4 games, available at no extra cost to PS Plus subscribers who own a PS5. This has gone nowhere, despite concerns that it was possible before the PS Plus 2.0 rollout.
In May, Sony has revealed its lineup of games on the way to the games-on-demand library of PS Plus 2.0. Now that the library is actually out, it’s clear that the full list is bigger than expected.
The inclusion of much of Ubisoft’s portfolio, including the giant Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, it certainly matters. Exclusive to PS5 like Demon Souls and Return are also there, and (correctly) listed under the “must play” banner. At first glance, there’s no shortage of indie hits: the psychologically exciting observationthe hilarious maddening one Death Squaredthe narratively compelling Virginiathe wonderfully minimalistic Thomas was alone† Sony previously said: Final Fantasy XV would be available, and it’s one of the lineup, but turns out the service also has a ton of other entries from Square Enix’s groundbreaking RPG series, including the landmark VII and X† Also note, many of these games were previously listed on Microsoft’s competing Xbox Game Pass service:Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD literal only links – so I imagine observers will be making stronger comparisons between the offerings of the two services in the coming weeks.
While it has its shortcomings, PS Plus 2.0 has solid potential. But it’s just a start. I look forward to seeing how it changes in the coming weeks and months.