Hobby Hole: Take me Home, PlayStation Plus

Last year, Xbox Live celebrated its tenth anniversary with a slew of freebies and events, including a branded helmet my Live Avatar now proudly rocks. As with all things, the service has evolved tremendously from its humble roots. While I and millions of others initially purchased the subscription to play Halo 2—and, later, its sequels—online, in recent years, it’s catered to a more casual audience by offering programs like Netflix and Hulu to those who paid the annualized fee (initially $50, then increased to $60).

What it hasn’t seem to noticed though is that while Xbox Live was the first of its kind for consoles, a similar, and arguably stronger, online service was launched with the PlayStation 3, where Netflix and multiplayer games could be accessed for free. Though the network suffered some reliability issues and was plagued by a series of horrendous hacks by the group known as Anonymous, PlayStation came back stronger and better than before with an even more improved service: PlayStation Plus.

Like the Kennedy assassination, a theory I’ve heard tossed about forums was that Sony illustrated the hack and subsequent PlaySation Network Outage that essentially launched PlayStation Plus, the argument being that they seemed to greatly benefit following the disastrous loss of personal information, in spite of a massive financial loss. Though idiotic, it’s not entirely baseless: millions have subscribed to the Plus service and the PlayStation 3 has gone on to outsell the Xbox 360, though the latter had held its lead for years.

So what’s so great about PlayStation Plus? Well, as with the Xbox Live Gold Subscription (the only paid tier), PlayStation Plus offers all of the services that every owner of the console should inherently be offered: automatic updates, cloud saves, automatic trophy syncs, etc. (note that these seem like they will be incorporated into the upcoming PlayStation 4). However, Plus also offers members a revolving instant, and free, game collection (for both the PlayStation 3 and the handheld PlayStation Vita), steep discounts, and exclusives like closed beta access to some of the highest-profile future titles.

As a Live subscriber, I ignored the call of Plus for more than a year, though my loyalty was increasingly swaying toward the PlayStation brand as it seemed to champion the gamer rather than dismiss it outright as Xbox has.

Earlier this month, though, the math finally caught up to me. Here’s what happened:
  • As a PlayStation Network subscriber, Sony graciously granted me $10 in store credits.
  • Around the same time, Sony began a special sale wherein if you spend $50 during the month of March, you receive a $10 rebate (essentially, a 20% discount).
  • The PlayStation Plus instant game collection featured, for the first time, Gravity Rush, a $35.99 title for the PlayStation Vita I had intended to purchase as my very next title for the system.
  • Since I had $10 in credits, would receive $10 more (if I spent an additional $0.01 after purchasing Plus), PlayStation Plus would cost me only $30 for 15 months (a promotion granted an additional three months through March 4).
  • After signing up, I was then able to download a more expensive title for free, technically saving me $5.99.
Today, I am a proud subscriber of PlayStation Plus (you can see the little + sign on my gamer card at the bottom of this page). Since I signed up, I’ve also downloaded Spec Ops: The Line and The Cave, two additional titles I had planned to purchase, for free as part of the subscription.

I plan to drop my Xbox Live subscription when it expires this December. That’s a long way to go, but with my interest in the Halo franchise at an all-time low, no other exclusives currently drawing my attention and rumors about the next Xbox driving my disinterest in the company even further, I see little changing my plans.

Unless, you know, if Xbox Live went free. Your move, Microsoft.

Don't forget: the deadline for The Nobodies Cover Contest is next Sunday! For more information, check out the original post detailing the contest here.