The new PlayStation Plus subscriptions are a good start, but the future is still unclear

PlayStation has finally rolled out its new PlayStation Plus Australia. Subscribers can now access the three new options of PlayStation Plus Essential, Extra and Deluxe with different benefits for each.

You can read all about the ins and outs of each level here, but leading up to the local launch I thought I’d take a look at what it should look like on launch day and whether it’s worth getting on the ground ground or waiting for the service to be well established. I’ve been able to experience the new PS+ myself for much of the past month thanks to its launch in other regions, checking out its current library of games including the PlayStation Classics available through the most expensive Deluxe tier and feeling the value of it’s all as it is now.

The PS4/PS5 Game Library (Extra/Deluxe Levels)

Included in both the Extra and Deluxe tiers is a library of PS4 and PS5 games that includes first-party and third-party titles from AAA to indie and is quite similar to what you’d expect from something like Xbox Game Pass – with one major exception. Yes, the lack of ‘day one’ PlayStation Studios titles on the service is a little disappointing compared to Xbox’s commitment to launch all of their first party games on Game Pass, but funnily enough, the first party offering is on PS+ Extra/Deluxe arguably better than what’s currently on XGP.

If we look strictly at current-generation first-party games released since the launch of the PS5 and Xbox Series X|S, there are four on Game Pass (Psychonauts 2, Forza Horizon 5, Halo Infinite, Microsoft Flight Simulator) versus the next six on PS+ Extra:

  • Death Stranding Director’s Cut
  • Demon Souls
  • Destruction All Stars
  • Ghost of Tsushima: Director’s Cut
  • Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales
  • Return

Despite the Xbox titles launching on day one, it’s not hard to see that the value comparison still doesn’t quite add up when it comes to first party games – it’s an advantage PlayStation had long before the battle for the subscription service flared up, but it’s repeated here. Even as Game Pass continues to add more quality Xbox Game Studios launches to its roster, the source of pre-existing content on PS5 like Horizon Forbidden West and Gran Turismo 7 is still there for PlayStation to pull out whenever it wants. Multiple top-tier PlayStation Studios games that still command fairly eye-popping retail prices, included in an AUD$18.95-per-month subscription, are quite compelling, even if they’re not rolling out day-to-date.

As far as third-party content goes, a mix of titles from a number of publishers plus a dedicated catalog of Ubisoft+ classics titles means the PlayStation offering is pretty much on par with Game Pass here. There are some big names like Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy that you’ll find on both, and both offer the same unique opportunities to check out underrated indie gems like The Artful Escape and Outer Wilds, so in that regard I’d say what’s up to currently on PS+ Extra/Deluxe, doing a good job of keeping up. it doesn’t quite feel like there are just as many cool, unique indie games to discover here as there are on Xbox, probably only because things like Sable, Floppy Knights, and Genesis Noir are currently Xbox console exclusive. Still, I see people using the subscription to try out games they wouldn’t normally pay full price for, in much the same way – Lawn Mowing Simulator, anyone?

What’s going to make the difference in the future is, well, what we see in the future. PlayStation says it will update its offerings twice a month between the Essential, Extra and Deluxe tiers, and so which titles are flipped in and out will be crucial to the service’s lasting value. We already know that at least one major indie game is coming in the form of Stray, which is a pretty compelling offering in its own right. If PlayStation can maintain that level of indie/AA Day One launches on PS+ at the same pace we see on Game Pass, I’d definitely be inclined to stick with my subscription.

We don’t have a full list of which games are launching in Australia with PlayStation Plus Extra/Deluxe yet, but you can see what should be a match for them here. It’s a pretty big library to start with!

PlayStation Classics and Game Trials

So while the games catalog available to everyone in the Extra tier and above is quite attractive, what are the benefits for those looking for the more expensive Deluxe version? While we’re already lagging behind locally compared to regions where the top tier is called Premium and offers PS3 games via cloud streaming, we still get the added benefits of a library of PS1, PS2, and PSP titles, as well as downloadable Game Trials for an additional AUD $2 per month.

The big draw here will of course be the selection of classics, but this is where the service is probably most lacking at the moment. With 13 PS1 titles, 24 PS2 titles and a single PSP game (as of the current global rollout), it’s no enormous catalog. There are certainly some top titles in the mix, such as Ape Escape, Resident Evil Director’s Cut, Siphon Filter, Tekken 2, and the Jak & Daxter games, but PlayStation will really need to redouble its commitment to deliver a quality retro library for people to enjoy. to keep you interested.

Frustratingly, it’s more than likely that we’ll also be subject to the same woeful PAL versions of PS1 titles as other regions that originally ran on the PAL standard, meaning games will be jerkier and slower than for US subscribers. or Japan. Unless PlayStation decides to offer its users a choice between PAL or NTSC versions of the games, that will be a major drawback here. Likewise, most of the current PS2 catalog consists of games that were already available on PS4 as ‘PS2 Classics’ and don’t always work well on PS5. I tried to download Ape Escape 2 from the PS+ Deluxe library to see if it was still mostly unplayable on PS5, and unfortunately it was.

There’s certainly still some hope to hold onto here, the addition of visual filters, save states and rewind to all games, as well as trophies for a select few (I could Ape Escape platinum, which is pretty cool) is great, but support right now seems sporadic at best and it’s too early to say if that will be the norm over time. Unless you’re already all-in to the PS4/PS5 library and only have a few extra dollars to upgrade to Deluxe, I wouldn’t invest in playing these classics just yet.

Game Trials, another perk of the Deluxe level, is an interesting and potentially very useful perk for subscribers. This system essentially allows users to download full versions of games to their console and then play them for a set amount of time before being locked out until they decide to buy them for good. It’s a clever way to get around the lack of ‘demo’ games in the modern market by literally giving people the keys for a few hours as a test drive. Better yet, if you decide to pay for the game, you’ll already have the full thing installed, so you can just jump back in and keep all of your progress and trophies unlocked during the trial game.

Right now, the list of available trials is quite small, but it has things like Horizon Forbidden West, Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands, and Uncharted: Legacy of Thieves Collection, so it’s a good opportunity to have some high-profile titles. The only major downside, especially here in Australia, is that you’re downloading the full games which in many cases are 50GB+ which is a big stake of time and data for something you could delete after an hour or so.

The verdict (so far)

At launch, these new PlayStation Plus levels are a fairly compelling, if not overly surprising, answer to Xbox’s Game Pass, but longevity will be key. In the few weeks I’ve had access I’ve certainly felt I got value for money based on how much I’ve downloaded and played, but I can’t say how long I’ll feel this way without knowing what new games will be added later.

For now, I’d say the middle Extra tier is the best choice for anyone curious to try it out – the quality and selection of the Premium sport’s Classic titles just isn’t strong enough yet – with a commitment up to a one or three-month stay is probably the safest bet. There’s no doubt we’ll see great content from both the current generation and retro lineups over time, but it’s just too hard to imagine taking a bigger dive while all that is still is an unknown quantity.