If you’re a PlayStation fan, you’ve probably already seen the news: Sony is jacking PlayStation Plus prices starting in September. Right now, you can get a full year of PS Plus for $50, or three months for $18. Next month, those prices will increase to $60 and $25, respectively. Rage and curse all you want, but let’s face it: The reason services like PS Plus keep raising rates is because we let them.
News of the price increase came on the PlayStation Blog as an update to the “Free Games for August 2016” post (more on this misleading terminology in a bit). The post is fairly unapologetic, simply telling users that they can cancel their subscriptions before Sept. 22 if they don’t like the new rates. If you’re in the middle of a subscription you’ve already paid for, you won’t be affected until you need to renew.
PlayStation Plus is not the first streaming service to raise its prices, nor will it be the last. Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, Spotify and even PS Plus’s closest competitor, Xbox Live, have hiked up their rates in the last few years, and the reaction is always the same. A handful of zealots spit fire and claim they’ll never use the service again, but most people just grumble and fork over the cash. (Even the grumbling part is optional; how much of an outcry did you hear about any of those price changes?)
The big difference here, however, is that PlayStation Plus does not appear to be offering gamers anything extra for their additional fees. Netflix started investing heavily in additional shows; Amazon Prime added a ton of new services; even something like Spotify needs more and more money as it grows its library. PS Plus, on the other hand, is selling the same thing it’s always sold: online play and some “free” games.
Let’s also put to bed the myth that these games are free. They’re not, and Sony shouldn’t advertise them as such. You pay for them as part of your PS Plus subscription. When the subscription goes, so, too, does your access to the games. That’s not a free benefit; that’s a cheap rental.
In the grand scheme of things, however, Sony is not asking for that much money. The $10 increase still boils down to less than $1 per month, and most people who are affluent enough to afford a PS4 and an online subscription can probably pony up the cost.
What’s disappointing is that we, collectively, let companies do this whenever they feel like it, even if it’s not clear that the money is going toward anything other than increasing Sony’s bottom line. Servers and technicians and maintenance all cost money, yes, but unless PS Plus had some kind of enormous user-base spike over the last few months, it’s hard to imagine that the new revenue will be commensurate with the costs.
On the other hand, you can’t blame a for-profit company for wanting to make money, and PS Plus is a necessity if you want to play PS4 games online. Let’s just hope that the next time the price increases (and it’s a when, not an if), Sony offers something to mollify players other than “if you don’t like it, cancel it.”