PlayStation Plus, Sony’s online premium offering for the PlayStation 3, was announced at the Sony press conference a couple weeks ago. Since then more details have spilled concerning what exactly it offers for paying subscribers. First, it’s important to remember that PlayStation Plus does not replace PS3’s current offering of free online gameplay and PlayStation Network usage. PS Plus is an additional, optional service that provides subscribers with discounts on games purchased in the PS Store, early access to betas, exclusive offers on select demos and early purchases, free monthly episodes of Qore, and automatic downloads. Let’s dive a bit deeper.
Subscribers have access to free monthly PSN games, minis, and PS One Classics from the PSN Store. You keep these games for as long as you’re a subscriber; if you decide to opt out of the service, the free games disappear from your library. Exclusive themes, avatars, and premium game elements/add-ons are also available to purchase; these are yours to keep “forever.” Exclusive PS Store discounts are also offered, ranging from from 20% to 50% off (that’s on top of the any current discounts currently available to non-members). Again, these are yours to keep “forever.” Early access to beta trials and game demos pop up as well. Members can download a full game trial for an alloted amount of time (typically one hour) to decide if they want to purchase the game. Unlike a standard game demo, full game trials do not restrict you to certain levels/game modes. You get the full game. And get this–if you decide to purchase the game after testing it out, all awarded trophies and saved data carry over from the trial. Lastly there’s automatic downloads. Subscribers can set their PS3 to wake up from standby at a determined time to automatically download PS3 firmware updates, game patches, and “select demos and videos.” PlayStation Plus is available to sign up for today over PSN. A one year subscription goes for $49.99 (this comes bundled with three free months at the end) and a three-month packaged is priced at $17.99.
PlayStation Plus came to the PS3 as part of firmware update version 3.40. Here’s what the update brings: Photo Gallery enhancements (allows you to upload, browse and comment on photos on Facebook and Picasa Web Album & share your photos between your PSN friends and print photos from Photo Gallery); Video Editor and Uploader (new XMB function enables you to edit, save and upload video files stored on the PS3 system to sites such as Facebook or YouTube); Five Star Rating Support (you can rate PS Store content on a five-star scale); and additional power save options. There’s also been a few upgrades to PSN-Facebook integration. A new PSN Facebook application allows you to display your PlayStation Network profile on Facebook, send friend requests, and view your PSN friends’ online status. Check out a few snapshots of the new features in the gallery below.