The PlayStation Plus Effect

Getting your game noticed isn’t always easy. Limited advertising budgets can often mean that developers and publishers are forced to try to find alternative, cheaper ways to get themselves and their games out there into an ever increasingly crowded market.

For gamers in the know, it’s easy enough to keep an eye on what’s due out each week, but how many of us know which digital download titles are released when, and at what cost? Even though PlayStation now detail each week’s Store output, a title can be lost in the list and forgotten forever.

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For some developers – indie ones in particular – getting a game onto the PlayStation Plus promotion can be crucial, and more so than you might think.

[videoyoutube]”Being on PlayStaton Plus has been great for us,” says Futurlab’s James Marsden, developers of minis hit Velocity.

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“As a relatively unknown studio with limited (zero) marketing budget, we’d have found it very hard to achieve an install base of 100,000 units and more, but with PlayStation Plus we achieved that in just over a fortnight.”

Impressive figures, but the game was available free to Plus subscribers – so what’s in it for the developer? Officially details are kept confidential, but we assume that there’s enough in it for both parties to make it a worthwhile venture, and allowing the studios to concentrate on the game.

And the knock-on effects can be hugely positive. If a Plus offer expires, gamers will have heard about the title and are generally more likely to go looking for it and buy it, and then there’s always the chance that if they like the game they’ve downloaded, they’ll look for others from the same developer.

“The word now appears to be spreading,” confirmed James when we spoke to him last, “and gamers have also discovered our previous title Coconut Dodge, which has seen a significant sales boost!”

“We see Plus as a great opportunity for our publishing partners as well as our consumers,” said Ross McGrath, SCEE’s PlayStation Plus Product Manager to TheSixthAxis.

“For publishers, Plus opens up new revenue streams via an alternative business model, marketing and promotional opportunities across all PlayStation channels, as well as promoting brand awareness and franchise engagement.”

And for the customer? “We simply wanted to build a great value proposition with the Instant Game Collection – more than 45 quality games for around the price of a single Blu-ray, in addition to hundreds of pounds of savings and exclusive features”

It sounds like PR talk, but it’s technically true, as others will confirm.

“Being on PlayStation Plus in Europe has been a great experience,” agreed Stewart Gilray, CEO of Just Add Water, whose Stranger’s Wrath HD was part of the recent Plus promotion unveiled at E3. “It’s raised the awareness of the game and of us,” he told TheSixthAxis. “We’ve seen great feedback and that’s been very encouraging for us.”

Naturally, it’s not just the indies that benefit from being part of the deal. For established publishers with top tier titles that have ceased selling months ago, the added exposure to the brand can be invaluable. For example, THQ’s inclusion of both Warhammer 40,000 and Darksiders will surely see a knock on effect when the sequel to the latter releases soon.

Gamers will be familiar with the IP, and that’s only a good thing for a publisher releasing a title into the market. It’s free advertising, of a style, and the benefit surely outweighs the fact that the games are being given away for nothing.

[drop]Mike Kebby, Digital Campaigns Manager at SEGA Europe, only has great things to say about the way PlayStation Plus-promoted games can reach a wider audience.

“With Virtua Fighter we know we have a franchise with an extremely hardcore following, but we really wanted to ensure that we introduced the latest iteration [VF5: Final Showdown] to as many new players as possible,” he told us.

“We’ve found that PlayStation Plus was a perfect way to do this, as well as ensure we made a big noise about the title’s release, it’s great to reach out to lots of potential new fans,” he continued.

“VF5: Final Showdown has done very well for us since launch, and we’re glad to have continued our strong relationship with SCE by offering it to PS Plus subscribers for free.”

It appears that the numbers can be substantial, too, and in the case of Renegade Ops, close to the sort of figures the game did at launch.  “We can see that our multiplayer mode is starting to hit peaks similar to those at launch,” said Kebby. “It’s extremely important for a title like Renegade Ops to engage the online player-base, where the main focus, and most fun way of playing it, is to connect with friends online.”

Plus is a major part of Sony’s PlayStation strategy – it was heavily hinted at before E3 and going forward is arguably massive value for gamers. Just now you can grab the likes of LittleBigPlanet 2 and other AAA first party games as part of a monthly subscription, and the deals normally associated with the scheme are starting to appear on the Vita, too.

It’s encouraging to read that developers are coming off better as well as gamers, something that we don’t see often enough. It also appears to forge close relationships between the platform holder and studios, and hopefully that’ll ultimately mean more free games for us.

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46 Comments

  1. It’s all very true and proves to be a lucrative proposition to most developers, especially the indie devs.

    I think i heard somewhere that developers were paid a lump sum of money for joining Plus and, in some cases, this led to the developer being able to add and refine the game even further.

  2. It’s so true. I preordered Darksiders 2 after playing my free first game. I wouldn’t have without that freebie.

  3. Really well written article.

    For anyone just joining the current gen with a PS3, PS+ is really a fantastic place to start.

  4. You have a big point there.

  5. Been a Plus member since day one.

    It’s the best gaming deal out there (steam deals aren’t bad either).

    • I love plus as well, was a day one sign up as well, just wish i had more time to play all the free games they give you.

  6. I still haven’t been lured into getting PS+. It’s just not for me. If I were to pay for a service, I’d much rather pay for something like LIVE where you actually get a better online service provided to you. Discounts rarely appeal to me, simply because you’re generally only saving a couple of quid for a game that costs less than a tenner. Out of all the ‘free’ games, Trine 2 was the only free game I would of wanted, I either already have the rest as they are so old, or they just don’t appeal to me.
    I can see why Sony are pushing PS+ so much, they want it to be the norm, where the majority of gamers are subscribed, but I think offering a better PSN service and better features will entice more gamers to sub, rather than discounts and games. If I was offered a better PSN service, with more functionality, improved reliability (barely any down-time maintenance) then I would leap at the chance.

  7. plus is great, and i’m happy to remain a subscriber, but we didn’t instantly get 45 free games.

    it’ll take a year to get them all.

    probably just as well, my hard drive is about to rebel as it is. O_O

    anyway, it’s good that it also benefits the developers as well.
    and i don’t say that for purely altruistic reasons, if it means more devs will sign up to get us more content. ^_^

    • Upgrade my HDD to 640Gb to have space for games

      • that’s something a plan to do when i’ve got the money.

  8. I love PS+ but I hate the fact the games don’t go in your download list! I deleted a couple of games and now they’re gone forever.

    • Really, that’s very interesting… I was going to delete a few so as to make space & then re-download them when I need them… My 232GB capacity only has a couple of gig left & I can’t afford a new drive… no matter how cheap they seam to some people.

      *sad face*

      • That’s my issue too – My HDD just couldn’t take plus even if it wanted to.

        Plus (pun not intended!), i then have to find the extra time in a month to ensure i play the games offered, as i have a tendency to start a title & come back to it months & months later (years in some cases – I just finished Fear 2 the other day!), which just wouldn’t work with a plus sub.

        Additionally, when it first arrived on the scene, the games offered were ones i already owned, or really didn’t want to bother with. The latter isn’t so much of an issue anymore, but sadly the former is (where things like infamous & similar come into the fray anyway).

        So to sum up: Great service, just not for me.

    • Did your PS+ expire?
      They’ll come back if you renew- I originally started with PS+ with a 3 month sub and when that expired I deleted everything. A month or two later I bought a 12 month sub (which got extended with the hack) and everything I had in the first 3 months came back to my download list as well as the new stuff. The only things I was missing was what was released in the time I wasn’t subscribed.

    • Games shouldn’t be removed from your download list, pretty much ever. If that happened to you, let me know your PSN id and the titles in question and I’ll look into it, since that’s not meant to happen.

      • Cheers Ross, great to hear… so I can delete safely away so I can download the next huge pile of freebies.

      • Yeah, I know it wasn’t necessarily clear initially but if you download it, it’s yours as long as you keep subscribing. And that counts for stuff you just add to the download list to retrieve later as well.

    • Oh sorry, I meant the games you may have got half way through the month like Far Cry 2.
      Unless I’m missing something here.

      • yeah – once downloaded (or at least queued for download) the games remain in your download list so you can re-download at any time. If you can’t find them in your list, just go to the store and they’ll be highlighted as already downloaded and you can download them from there.

    • Mine are still there, my plus lapsed but i resubbed just before e3 thanks to the amazing hype… Glad i did too. Motorstorm and lbp2 worth it alone

    • thats not true, the games stay in you DL-List as long as your PSN+ is still valid…
      i actually dont download most free games because im not able to play them all at once anyway… i “buy” them, but dont download them after the ckeckout, but they are nevertheless in the download list this way…

      • How come I can’t redownload prototype and far cry 2 again? I have the blue icon next to them but I have to pay. I had them on my PS3 100% a couple of weeks ago.

      • Where they full game trials?

      • Nope. I don’t download trials anymore and besides the trial and the full game have the blue bag icon. If I had trial only, the full game wouldn’t also have the blue icon on it.

      • @Awayze Are you sure you’ve checked your download list and not just checked the games page?

      • Same here – everything I have ever downloaded on PSN and PS+ stuff since day one is still in my download list even if I didn’t actually download after checking out or if I did and then uninstalled at a later date/reinstalled at a further later date.

  9. 1) That’s excellent news, a great platform to stand on and all that

    2) Circa 100k+ ‘sales’? Whilst difficult to achieve without huge marketing budget, what the hell are all the PS+ subscribers playing at, or isn’t there that many subscribers outside of my bubble largely made up of TSA members and therefore by default gaming geeks most likely to have Plus

    Velocity isn’t just a good mini, or even a great one… it’s a great game. <-- that was a full stop, yes, it's a great game full stop!! People shouldn't just be downloading it because it's included in PS+ (although they're clearly mad as feck not to) people should be buying it at just £3.99, bargain! Not had the time to dive into Strangers Wrath yet, but I can't wait And Renegade Ops is brilliant, really enjoyed it in single player, but of course the big win is in co-op, another game that's an absolute no-brainer to buy if you missed out on the PS+ deal... Oh, and hi Mike PS+ represents a great promotion opportunity and I'm glad that the people who deserve the monies are happy with it's benefits. I love it, because it's a great way of paying for games and in these times where gaming might be lower down the priorities of where my limited amounts of money go, it's the only opportunity for me to play as many games as I do.

    • I personally skip most of the mini and PSone titles and I’m guessing I’m not alone there.. it’s nothing against them but when storage space is limited, bandwidth has to be watched and there are several quality games to play on PS+/PS3 (aswell as 360, PC and handhelds/mobile) some titles just fall to the side, it’s a shame but I’m sorry to say it’s just something that happens.

      • I get that, sadly… although at a max file size of just 70meg Minis are always worth a quick go

      • I enjoyed the minis in so much as they were interesting diversions on the first weds of the month, but never held my attention for long. And ps one games were ok on psp, and will no doubt have a resurgence when vita finally lets me play em, but i do think this AA and AAA approach is better value. I had bought most of the good £15 games before plus came out, like wipeout hd etc, so often the freebies were games i already had. With the new approach i have traded in lbp2 bluray and got a good cash amount back on my plus sub outlay.

    • Loved Renegade Ops single player but never tried co-op

    • Thanks for loving Renegade Ops, we love it too ;)

  10. fantastic piece, well done nofi.

    been on PS+ since day one and the wealth of content is unreal and discounts fantastic. As Ross puts it, for the cost of a single blu-ray I get a year of titles and discounts so if i skip that mediocre FPS or slightly broken third person action title I get a wealth of other content…

    sign me the f up.

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