The PlayStation Plus subscription programme was introduced back in June 2010 as a premium online service. One-upping Xbox Live’s similar subscription model, PlayStation Plus offered the ‘Instant Game Collection’; a model in which subscribers would receive free videogame titles every month. In 2013, PlayStation Plus became mandatory for online gameplay on PlayStation 4 and just this week received notice of an upcoming price hike in North America. With subscribers having been eligible for more than $3,000 USD worth of videogames since launch, what could it mean for the upcoming PlayStation VR launch?
PlayStation Plus has overtime been rolled out to each of the leading PlayStation formats. Beginning with PlayStation 3, PlayStation Vita and PlayStation 4 users gained access along with the launch of each of their respective formats. PlayStation VR, launching 13th October 2016, is being presented in exactly the same way: exclusive videogame titles, digital and retail packages, unique accessories. PlayStation Plus subscribers who purchase PlayStation VR are likely to benefit there also, in time.
Initially it’s unlikely that Sony Interactive Entertainment (SIE) would make the jump to include PlayStation VR titles in the Instant Game Collection library. Doing so would likely cause irritation amongst the PlayStation Plus subscribers who don’t have access to the hardware. Instead, such additions are likely to come once PlayStation VR has been available for several months and the demand for new hardware during its launch period has subsided.
PlayStation VR is to benefit from several strategies approaching software releases. There are full price premium videogames, such as RIGS: Mechanized Combat League and Here They Lie. Then there are low cost titles including Batman: Arkham VR, Hustle Kings VR and Super Stardust Ultra VR. Finally, there are add-on experiences bundles with other software, such as Final Fantasy XV: VR Experience and the virtual reality (VR) component of the forthcoming PlayStation 4 edition of Rise of the Tomb Raider. In the opinion of VRFocus, it will initially be these latter experiences that will be offered without cost as part of the PlayStation Plus Instant Game Collection.
Releasing what is essentially a free add-on experience to all without cost six months after the initial launch is unlikely to cause much of a stir, yet will allow those who have access to PlayStation VR hardware to download a new piece of software they may not originally have intended to purchase. Given the newness of experiences afforded by PlayStation VR, it’s highly possible that a player not involved in the Tomb Raider franchise would still entertain the idea of playing through the associated VR experience simply for the sake of experiencing something new in VR.
In time, as the PlayStation VR install base increases, full releases will undoubtedly join the line-up on the PlayStation Plus Instant Game Collection. However, unlike the PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita, you’re not likely to be receiving any freebies at launch.