“Should I buy Playstation Plus?” That was  the question a friend of mine posed a couple of weeks ago, after the E3 announcement about all of the instant games library for PS+ subscribers.

I immediately said, “Yes! But…” and then I went on a convoluted conversation that lasted too long, all the while trying to weigh the pros and cons of the service that a month ago seemed niche to a lot of people. Now, because of all of the games being waved in front of gamers’ faces (Let’s list them out real quick: Virtua Fighter 5, Infamous 2, Saints Row 2, LittleBigPlanet 2, Just Cause 2, Ratchet and Clank: All 4 One, Warhammer 40K: Space Marine, Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light, Hard Corps: Uprising, Choplifter HD, Zombie Apocalypse: Never Die Alone, and Sideway: New York), it suddenly seems like an obvious choice, right?

Not exactly…

The way I see it, the decision comes down to four basic factors: money, time, history, and commitment.

  1. Money: 18 bucks for 3 months breaks down to $6 a month, $1.50 a week, or just over 25 cents a day. I think. Any way you look at it, it’s a deal. BUT, and this is a big but, you’ve got to remember that you only have access to the instant library of games while you are paying for the PS+ service. If you stop after three months, you lose the games. Not a *big* deal, though; it still seems like a pretty good deal if you think that you are renting those games for that length of time.
    You have to consider your hard drive size, though. If you’re like me, and you still have a 40gb hard drive, then you’re not going to be able to really enjoy the entire library. Not only are you going to have to erase and download (most of the games are ~7gb or so, with Infamous 2 coming in at a hefty 15.1gb). So if you have anything of worth on your hard drive already, you might only get a couple of games before you’re stuck. And here’s the kicker: if you want to play a game, but next month, it’s no longer offered as a free game, you can only re-download it if you downloaded it the first time. Even so, it’s a pain in the ass to download those bigger games over and over and over.
    The easiest solution? Go get a new hard drive. My wife picked up a 320gb notebook SATA at a big box store for $55. I went from a full-as-a-tick 40gb to 160gb-with-breathing-room within 24 hours after install. And the install took like 15 minutes. You can go here for an incredibly easy step-by-step guide.
    The point is that it *might* cost you more than $18 to really enjoy it. But seriously, if you haven’t upgraded your hard drive yet, you should.

    This was probably the biggest, most pleasant surprise of the bunch.

  2. Time: This might seem a little obvious, but what kind of a time commitment do you have to the service? I’m not talking about length of subscription or anything; I’m talking about gaming time in a month. These games can eat up a good portion of your gaming time. If you’re like me, you sometimes question whether or not you are getting your money’s worth out of monthly services. Me? I’m constantly switching back and forth between guilt from playing too much to guilt from not playing enough. It’s a vicious cycle…
    It gets further complicated when you factor in your other gaming responsibilities. If you keep an MMO subscription, how much time are you really going to spend playing set-piece action scenes in Infamous 2? If you pay for Xbox Live, are you really going to be able to dive into Ratchet and Clank enough throughout the month?
    Me? It seems like a great deal to me, as the only time I keep an active MMO subscription is when I get drunk enough to go online and re-up my inactive sub… But that’s another story, and one that I don’t think Customer Service really cares about. Who essentially drunk-dials their ex-MMO?

    Game Informer’s cover, featuring Infamous 2’s Cole. Looking so hip.

  3. History: What is your gaming history like? Another friend of mine had already beaten most of the games on the instant library list (Little Big Planet 2 being the sole exception), so for him, it didn’t seem like that great of a deal. I think I must have been busy when most of these games came out, because I hadn’t even played most of them. Just Cause 2? Holy shit. It’s pretty fun using the grappling hook and parachute to essentially fly all over the island. I had no idea…
    Another point of your gaming history to consider is how much you’ve downloaded stuff from and enjoyed Xbox Live. Do you remember downloading a game on Xbox? Remember how fast it was? Well, you can forget that shit. It takes *forever* to download these games, and it can be a little off-putting. I left Infamous 2 downloading one night, and when I went to bed, it was at 4%. I got up the next morning to see that it was at 65% (I swear to god that I don’t have dial-up). And then, after you finally get it downloaded, be ready for the installs…
    /em get off soapbox
    But in the end, I’ve got a hard drive full of games, so it’s probably still worth it.

    And we all need a game where this can happen.

  4. Commitment: How long are you going to stick around, enjoying all of this stuff? Hopefully long enough to justify the cost and the time that you spent loading up your brand new hard drive. If you just want to try it out for a few months and then move on, you might end up with a hard drive full of unusable games, much like the post-holiday love handles that follow you around until you nut up and spend the time to burn them off (with exercise – not fire).
    Additionally, commitment here means “how much do you really care about your Playstation?” For us, it’s the center of the entertainment center. I know; it’s blasphemous to say that, but seriously, it happened because of the wireless router and the blu-ray player. Those things moved it front and center, and now it’s on more than our cable box. That being said, it still had a very simple theme on it, as I could never justify spending 3 bucks on a dynamic theme, no matter how cool they are. PS+ members get a bunch of free and cheap themes and avatars (why the hell do they call them avatars, though? It should be buttons or something). Now, I have a little dragon on my dashboard, and my two-year-old points and says “Dragon!” whenever we turn it on, so it’s a nice little bonus. I feel a little better investing money into the center of our entertainment center, and I’m sure Sony likes that I like it, too…

    Wait, does this game add value or take away value?

In the end, it seems like a no-brainer to me, but I don’t like to speak for everyone. If you have the time, money, and hard drive space, it’s a pretty darned good deal. Of course, I don’t know what July’s games will be. Is it too much to ask for Arkham Asylum?

What about you? Did you get the service after the E3 announcement, or have you had it for a while?

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