The PlayStation Plus games for March have been announced, and for PlayStation 4 owners they are great. Some people might even call them phenomenal, in fact.
You see, this month, PlayStation 4 owners get to add not only Ratchet & Clank to their digital game library, but also the mighty Bloodborne. As brilliant as both of those games are, however, there’s one problem: most gamers really interested in playing them will already own them.
Bloodborne was released way back in 2015. Ratchet & Clank is a little newer – it was released in 2016 – but it’s still quite old in the scheme of things. Both games have been in countless sales on the PlayStation store, and you can pick up a preowned copy of either title for as little as £10 if you do a little shopping around. Really, if you’re a PlayStation 4 gamer and you haven’t picked up and played either of these titles yet you’re probably not really bothered about them. The games being offered this month via PlayStation 4 are great games, sure, but for most people, they’re pointless.
No matter if you’re a PlayStation Plus or Xbox Live Gold subscriber, it happens. The games being offered to download next month get announced, but if any of them are AAA titles, there’s a high chance that you already own or have played them. Yet still, everyone cries “great month!”. But is it really?
The problem with services like PlayStation Plus and Xbox Live Gold is that if you’re a keen gamer, by the time a game is eligible to be given away on one you’re likely to have already played it. And if you haven’t, then you’re probably not all that bothered about it. You’ll probably eagerly add it to your library, thinking “Oh, free games!”, but there’s a good chance that you’ll never actually play it. It’ll just sit there in your library as you play newer, more interesting releases, until you’ve forgotten it even exists.
PlayStation Plus and Xbox Live Gold are services that give you AAA games for free because there’s little retail value left in them anymore. Quite often you’ll be given the bog-standard version of such titles in the hope that you’ll buy some DLC for them too. For me, a PlayStation Plus month like March isn’t great, it’s a waste. A missed opportunity for Sony to offer up some good games that I might not have heard of, or some of those games that I’ve wanted to play but got overshadowed by bigger releases.
But then the truth is, neither Microsoft nor Sony can win. If they give away brand new indie titles that no one has ever heard of, people take to message boards to complain that they’re rubbish without even giving them a chance. That leaves both companies scrambling to offer older retail titles with more perceived worth, but they’re only useful at all if subscribers don’t already own them.
The best game ever given away via PlayStation Plus is Outlast, which I believe was one of the service’s first PlayStation 4 offerings. Previously only available on PC, it was released in February 2014 straight into Sony’s PlayStation Plus service, and it was great. No-one already owned it, and no-one had already played it on PlayStation 4. It was a brand new game given away as part of the PlayStation Plus subscription. And that is what the service should be all about: giving players new experiences every month. Preferably ones that they haven’t already played.
Sony and Microsoft will always come under fire for giving away indie games in their PlayStation Plus and Games with Gold offerings, but honestly, it’s their best course of action. Especially brand new ones that have only just been released. I’d rather be surprised with hidden gems that I definitely don’t own than have games shoved in my face that I’ve already played the hell out of or bought years ago, and I’m sure many others would too.
Honestly, in 2018, giving away Bloodborne via PlayStation Plus feels more like a PR stunt than a true act of kindness. And it’s one made at PlayStation Plus subscribers’ expense.