The argument about which paid service is the best, PlayStation Plus or Xbox Live Gold, is an ongoing debate. Until now, the differences have been tit-for-tat, with both services sharing most of the same features, with the added caveat that some of the services that come with an Xbox Live Gold subscription are free on PlayStation Network, even without PlayStation Plus. Xbox Live Gold subscribers may tell you the quality of the service is well worth the price, and while the Xbox branded network may have been better in the times past, both networks have quickly reached parity.
With the E3 2012 announcement that PlayStation Plus has added an instant games collection, PlayStation’s paid network may finally have a leg-up on its Xbox counterpart. With this announcement, Sony has created a console subscription-based games model that probably should be adopted by both Nintendo and Microsoft. In other words, as long as you pay, you play. Each month PlayStation plans to release more titles to the ‘online games collection’, becoming what many of us have wanted for a long time, a Netflix instant-like service for games.
Of course you still have to download and install the games on your console, but the fact that this is on demand via a subscription plan if pretty exciting. The first volley of games for the month of June from Sony include: Virtua Fighter 5, inFAMOUS 2, Little Big Planet 2, Ratchet and Clank: All 4 One, Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine, Just Cause 2, Saints Row 2, Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light, Hard Corp: Uprising, Choplifter HD, Zombie Apocalypse Never Die Alone, and Sideway NY –not too shabby at all.
Now the real question is, how long will it take Microsoft to follow suite? With subscription based games as an added bonus, Xbox Live Gold could bolster its ongoing sales by offering free downloads for games that are either classics or greatly waning in sales. I wouldn’t expect to get top tier games out a service like this, or even anything from the last year or so, but by releasing good but forgotten games, it would bring added value to the service, which could also include offering the same games for purchase to non-Gold members, or even allow a user to add the game to their permanent collection for a discounted price.
There a many possibilities for a gaming service like this. It will be very interesting to see how PlayStation does with this offering on their Plus service going forward. It will also be interesting to see if the other two big boy consoles will follow suite.