By now we all now that the free games aspect of PlayStation Plus is coming to an end in March 2019 for PS Vita and PS3 owners. From that point onwards Sony Interactive Entertainment will only provide ongoing monthly games for the PlayStation 4 and PSVR and the service will focus exclusively on the new platforms.
So where does that leave owners of older systems? Right now we’re left in a state of limbo. Many of us have been subscribers for a long time, having been loyal supporters of the PlayStation brand for decades. For those who have been with PlayStation Plus since its launch that will mean you will have amassed a vast library of games over the years across almost every Sony platform – PS4, PS3, PS Vita, PSP, PS One, and Minis. While the majority have been full, standalone titles many have prompted players to spend money on DLC that has often featured promotions to coincide with the PS+ distribution of the main game. Certainly I remember buying all of the expansions for Sleeping Dogs when the game appeared on PS+ just because of my love of the game itself.
But the fundamental question now is what next? PlayStation Plus itself is growing rapidly and now has over 32 million subscribers. The PS4 is quickly catching up with the PS3s global sales of 86 million and is just 8 million units shy of that total. In an ideal world Sony Interactive Entertainment wants every PS4 owner to be a PS+ subscriber but that’s not likely to happen any time soon. For many PlayStation 4 users, the lure of the monthly games isn’t great enough to tempt them into making the regular payments to enable them to get their consoles online for anything beyond basic system and game updates, but those gamers aren’t the ones we’re concerned about right now…
I’m interested in the PS3 and PS Vita owners who are set to be left behind next year by Sony when PlayStation Plus makes the shift to being a PS4/PSVR centric service. SIE are making astonishing assumptions about their customer base at the moment and seem to be operating on the basis that all of their existing customers have progressed steadily through the entire PlayStation ecosystem. The belief seems to be prevalent that PS3 and Vita owners are also PS4 owners and in the case of the PS3, users no longer use these systems and have now made the PS4 their console of choice. It’s an incredibly arrogant assumption, blatantly disregarding those who may have moved to Microsoft for their current gen hardware or who have simply chosen to stay with the PS3 or those who have only purchased a Vita and no other Sony platform. Regardless of the situation, there are millions out there still who have PlayStation Plus who don’t own a PlayStation 4.
So what do we do when the free games come to an end? At the moment, Sony have presented us with two simple choices. First, we can let our subscriptions expire and then we lose access to all of the games we have downloaded during the lifetime of our membership. Alternatively we can continue to pay and remain members, allowing us to play all of the games we have downloaded for the PS3 and PS Vita since the service was launched. The issue many of us have with this approach is that it is a no-win situation for Vita and PS3 owners. Many of us, certainly those who have been with PS+ since its launch, will have downloaded hundreds of games from the service, many of which have since been removed from the PlayStation Store. If we want to continue playing them in the future we don’t even have the option of buying them as digital downloads (such as the PS One game James Pond II: Robocod).
For years Sony have taken customer and brand loyalty for granted but in today’s competitive market that’s something that they can no longer rely on. They’re facing a harsh reality that come this time next year that they could potentially lose millions of PlayStation Plus subscribers overnight. There is a need now for Sony to look for a way to retain existing customers while ensuring a continuing revenue stream from subscriptions but how can they achieve this AND keep everyone happy?
Now is the time for Sony to consider the introduction of a two-tiered system for PlayStation Plus. The main service would continue as it’s currently planned offering monthly games, online save data storage and access to online gaming with a focus on the PS4 and PSVR but with retrospective access to previously downloaded games. Complimentary to this I’d hope that Sony would introduce a new “Legacy Edition” of PlayStation Plus – a cut price service offering existing users the online save data storage we currently enjoy, access to games we have already downloaded (irrespective of format) but nothing more. There wouldn’t be any technological stumbling blocks to prevent this from happening and if it were priced competitively most users would be happy to pay to keep their games as long as it’s cheaper than a full service that they wouldn’t use.
How about it Sony? Time to show your loyal customers some support and give us a few options maybe?
Is this something you’d use? Let us know in the comments below.