A lot of what we read is hugely positive about PlayStation Plus – gamers seem to love it and publishers (and developers) see the current focus on providing full games to subscribers within the monthly fee as a useful springboard to sequels and DLC that might normally fly under the radar a little when the schedule gets busy.
Take, for example, the inclusion of Dead Space 2 this month – surely a neat way to get people invested in the franchise ready for the third game due soon enough. Or the recent additions of LittleBigPlanet 2 – there’s a Vita game on the way (I’ve been playing it this week) and there’s stacks of DLC still coming out for it – it all makes sense.
The story of Velocity, Futurlab’s superb Minis title, is one that we’ve gone over a few times too – the studio saw a massive boost of awareness thanks to the top down shooter’s prominent feature as part of a PlayStation Plus promotion when it was released early for subscribers.
But some gamers seem to think that perhaps it’s not worth the money because a lot of the games being introduced have been around a little while and they’ve already got them. That’s understandable, but then Plus can’t be a catch-all for everyone – it simply has to feature some old games and chances are some will already own them.
However, there’s still a deliberate message coming from SCEE: Plus is just as much about new games as it is old ones. We’re told a handful of new titles are hitting the service between August and October from the platform holder alone – and that’s got to be a good thing.
So along with Rock Of Ages, which hopefully you’ll already have grabbed and downloaded, there’s going to be two retail games and and a game of the month landing soon. According to SCEE’s Ross McGrath, that’s a big one on September 5th and two before then in the middle of August. It’s a healthy list, but the exact details are remaining secret for the time being.
In addition, publisher Ripstone recently confirmed that they’ll be releasing three games for the PlayStation Plus Presents scheme: an entry in the Knytt series, a follow up to the indie shooter Really Big Sky and one more secret title. The first two at least will run on both PS3 and PS Vita, which is great news.
We spoke to Ripstone’s head, Phil Gaskell, about PlayStation Plus and what it means to publishers, developers and core gamers alike. “As a publisher dedicated to helping indie developers get their games into the hands of as many gamers as possible having the games appear in PlayStation Plus, and consequently the support Sony will be showing them, is a massive benefit” he said, when asked how important PlayStation Plus is with regards to getting the word out about their games.
Big Sky Infinity, running on the PS Vita. One of Ripstone’s 2012 Plus titles.
Phil’s also happy to talk financials. “We were always committed to funding the games so they were always, and still are, planned to be released at full price to everyone,” he replied, when asked whether the financial backing from Sony was enough to convince them to put the games out free for Plus subscribers.
“What the Plus scheme has given us is peace of mind that the talented and creative teams behind these games are set to profit from them,” he added. “That’s really important to us at Ripstone, we want to make sure every game we partner with indie developers on makes them money and helps this part of the games industry thrive.”
We talked platforms. “The Vita seems to get a lot of bashing,” Gaskell commented, “so for me personally it was crucial we supported the platform.” As stated above, Ripstone’s trio of Plus games will grace both the PS3 and the Vita.
“I love my Vita and I just don’t see any other dedicated gaming device that beats it,” he said. “My little lad and I platinum’d a game together whilst on our family holiday last week, which was a cool moment, and for a trophy hunter like me it made the holiday even more productive!”
“Initiatives like PlayStation Plus Presents, that help support and nurture indie games, should be applauded,” said Phil. “For me that’s where the exciting games are being made, ones that aren’t frightened to take risks and create unique experiences.”
Sony are – as it’s hopefully obvious – keen to demonstrate that they’re still behind giving gamers fresh titles that haven’t appeared elsewhere – whether that’s full priced AAA Blu-ray games or lesser known but equally important indie titles like the ones discussed above.
Obviously there’s going to be kind of overlap now and again, and not everything can be brand spanking new, but Plus is already much better than it has been, in our opinion. If you’re a core gamer – the message is “don’t worry”, and I think SCEE are singing that loud and proud.