Another month, another internet bitch-fest about Sony’s PS+ offering. This time, Grow Home and ‘Retro/Indie Platformers’ took the brunt of the hate with comments ranging from ‘Another Bad Month’ to ‘Yet More Indie Games….Great’; as if Playstation gamers had a reason to be annoyed about their selection of free games and what Sony’s ‘free game promotion’ had become.
I’ll put it out there right now. I’m a huge fan of what Sony and Microsoft are giving their fans with PS+ and Games with Gold; they really don’t need to do this any more. You’ll end up paying your subscription to play Call of Duty against your friends anyway right?
So maybe they’re not the most recent First Person Shooter or the 5th iteration of your favourite 3rd Person Action game but there’s value to be had elsewhere, away from your usual genre. Take Me for example, I’ve played Rocket League, The Unfinished Swan and Killzone Mercenary to death in the last few months, and without trying to cast doubt over the quality of those titles, I probably wouldn’t have paid for them (I would have got to Rocket League eventually – because #hype); not without a significant price cut at least, this is where PS+ is invaluable to me.
So Why is the internet so mad – Again?
I think it comes down to expectation. I look at PS+ as a means to play games I otherwise wouldn’t get to play, that’s why I don’t mind them throwing a few ‘indie’ games in every month. I can appreciate their art, mechanics and story without needing it to have the most ground breaking visuals . A great game is a great game is a great game, regardless of art-style, game mechanics or price. I want to play the best games, I want to experience new things. There’s no place for enjoying what you already love, but I value a PS+ that gives me a chance to try something new, especially when it doesn’t cost me a dime.
On the other end of the spectrum; the people who look at PS+ as an avenue to play big games that retailed for £40 a few months ago – for free. This expectation stems back from 2-3 years ago, when Sony was very much playing catch-up, and very much interested in winning the hearts of potential PS3 owners by giving away big budget; Triple A games a few months after their retail release. In 2015 that’s just not a something Sony needs to do, they’re winning the ‘console race’ and frankly, they know you’ll stump up the cash for an online subscription regardless of whether that offer you an incentive or not.
These PS+ subscribers see that they’re paying money once a month for free games that they’re just not interested in and it makes them pissy. I get that, I’d be pretty pissed off If I was expecting one thing and getting something entirely different, but the honest truth? I think they’re looking at the service the wrong way, and until that thinking changes, they’re not going to be happy.
We as gamers have a problem with trying new things, I know; I’ve done it. I’ve not touched a JRPG in over 6 years (The Last Remnant). It’s not that I’m not willing to try it, but that I’m not willing to spend what limited money I can spend on games on something that I probably won’t enjoy, especially when I’ve got a list as long as my arm of games I do want to spend money on.
So the reaction to ‘another month of 2D indie games’ is more than just a problem with PS+, it’s a problem that the video games industry has as a whole. We don’t play games that we aren’t sure we’ll love, we crave the familiar; the safe. It’s why we get yearly iterations of the same boring first-person shooters; sports games with slightly different features and adventure games with tired, often broken mechanics.
We as gamers need to accept that not all video games are created for Me/You/Us. There’s going to be stuff I/You/We don’t enjoy playing; that doesn’t interest us, and that’s okay. We all need to embrace different genres, otherwise we’re going to find ourselves replaying the same core group of games for years without break, and that’s a very bleak future indeed.