If you're like us, you need a nap because today has been too damn crowded with PlayStation 3 awesomeness. PlayStation Plus is out, and it's packing free games, avatars and the promise of loads of content for the next year. On the other front, Firmware 3.40 is out and allowing PS3s to upload pictures to Facebook and videos to YouTube. It even displays your Trophy levels on your Friends list.
It's too much goodness!
Now that we've had a chance to sit down and tinker with all the new bells and whistles on the PS3, we're ready to weigh in with some opinions. IGN PlayStation Executive Editor Greg Miller and IGN Guides Guru Colin Moriarty sat down to discuss the pros, cons and futures of Sony's new initiatives.
Come watch the PS3 Firmware meet Facebook.
Greg Miller: Colin, it's a big day -- PlayStation Plus and Firmware 3.40 are officially out. You and I made sure we downloaded both of them last night, so let's get into this. What are your initial thoughts on Firmware 3.40?
Colin Moriarty: I like what I see. The Trophy level of each of your friends being noted right from your friends list is a nice touch, as is the ability to rate games you've purchased on the PSN -- to try and influence other gamers to buy or not to buy certain products. What are your thoughts?
Greg Miller: I'm impressed. I don't own computer, so I store all my digital content on my PS3 like a portable hard drive. Having the ability to upload my photos straight to Facebook from the system has me very, very excited. Watching those Post-It notes pop up on the pics last night was cool. I love the Trophy level display.
Colin Moriarty: Right on. The Facebook connectivity is not really a key issue for me... in fact, I'm kind of turned off by it right off the bat because of how botched Sony's initial rollout of PS3-Facebook connectivity was. But I'll see if I can use these new features with an open mind.
Greg Miller: Geez, way to hate, Colin. At least they're doing it, but I do feel the same way about the video editing stuff. Anyway, lets get to the heart of the matter: PlayStation Plus. You plunked down your $50 last night. Has buyer's remorse set in yet?
Colin Moriarty: No buyer's remorse in the least. As you know, I've already received back in games and add-ons more than half of what I paid for a 15-month subscription in the first night of having PlayStation Plus. I'm still confused how anyone could argue that this isn't a great deal, especially for those of us, like you and I, who live and breathe PS3 and PSN.
How about yourself?
Greg Miller: Nah, I'm happy with it and excited to see what's coming next month and the month after that and the month after that. I don't see the need to hate on it like a lot of folks are. Yes, if I unsubscribe, they're taking back the games I got for free. Like you pointed out, isn't that how Netflix works? I could buy those movies, but I choose to pay a fee and get them for as long as I'm a member. Seems easy enough to me. Plus, even if I renew four more years, I'm going to get content out of those years that'll surpass the $200. My Xbox Live subscription expired two months ago, and that's the one I go back and forth about in my head.
Colin Moriarty: Exactly. It's not really hard to rationalize it in your head as being a good deal... it's more a matter of if you are willing to do it or not. I pay a monthly subscription to Netflix. That doesn't mean I get to keep every Blu-ray I rent, nor does it mean I get lifetime access to their streaming network. It means that as long as I subscribe, I can watch any of their movies, and when I stop subscribing, I don't have that access anymore. It's ludicrous that people attack this part of PlayStation Plus as being a negative. Let me give you an example.
I "bought" WipEout HD last night. It's usually $20, but for me, it was free, because I'm a PlayStation Plus member. Now, a lot of naysayers are quick to say that I'm simply renting the game, because I don't get to keep it if I stop subscribing. So let's say they're right. Let's say that I am renting the game. And let's say that, conservatively, I'd spend $5 a week on a rental from a brick and mortar store. So I get to "rent" Wipeout HD for 64 weeks. If I were to rent it at $5 a week, it'd cost me $320 over that span. Even at a dollar a week, it's still $64, or $14 more than the yearly subscription to PlayStation Plus.
Instead, I paid $50 to rent WipEout HD for 15 months, plus I get access to 14 other free games to "rent" over that period, plus I get discounts on games, DLC, and more that I actually get to keep. So... what was the negative again?
Greg Miller: We're starting to sound like an infomercial, but yeah, that's it in a nutshell. I think people have just had the free PSN for so long that any talk of a paid PSN pisses them off. The bigger issue -- for a lot of people -- is the fear that cross-game chat is going to come as a PlayStation Plus exclusive. If that happens, I expect riots in the streets.
Colin Moriarty: It's not a matter of sounding like an infomercial, it's a matter of coming with proper facts, and those are the facts. Sony couldn't have been clearer that the PSN will remain free, which puts it at an inherent advantage over its competition, Xbox Live. Microsoft essentially forces you to pay the same fee that PlayStation Plus charges just to get many basic online features that PS3 owners get for free. I'm not saying people need to embrace what Sony is doing here, but they do need to understand that for people who use PS3/PSN as much as you and I do, we are getting a fantastic deal, and certainly one a hell of a lot better than 360 gamers are currently getting.
Greg Miller: Oh, crap, you just ignited a Xbox/PS3 war on the comment thread below. As much as I love my PS3, Xbox Live has a few more bells and whistles that I think the PlayStation Network is trying to catch up with -- cross-game chat, Achievements auto-syncing, etc. Still, we have the better community and I do heart PlayStation Plus so far. My one concern is that all the free games are going to be old stuff. I've bought the PSN games I want off of the Store, I don't want to see them all get added to this free list. Does that worry you, Colin?
Colin Moriarty: Yeah. I was talking to another editor before and I told him: the proof is going to be in the pudding, but the pudding hasn't quite cooked all the way through yet. The free games, discounts, DLC, and all of that jazz that's released month by month is going to show, one way or the other, how much value is actually in PlayStation Plus. I have faith in this initiative because WipEout HD was their first choice for a free game -- a very popular $20 game. I guarantee you they'll have some duds for free games, but if they start rolling out stuff like Shatter, Super Stardust, Fat Princess or Flower for free in the coming months, then I think people's faith (and my own) will be sealed.
Do you think they'll give us what we want in terms of free games and discounts, or do you think their approach will be more tempered than you would have liked?
Greg Miller: I think it'll be tempered. I already own all of the games you just mentioned. It makes me worry that I'll never see a debut (like Journey) go free -- even the Fat Princess DLC this week was just marked down and not free, which seemed like it would've been a no brainer. Still, the discounts make me happy.
Colin Moriarty: We shall see. Rumor has it that Zen Pinball is going to be the next free game, and I don't own that one either. But yes -- the discounts have a lot of power with me as well. They already have me considering buying Cuboid (which I will get to keep even if I choose to stop subscribing to PlayStation Plus). But to me, what's really exciting about PlayStation Plus isn't what we've already seen and what we already know but everything that could potentially come to the service in the future. After all, as Jeff Rubenstein told us on Podcast Beyond last week, PlayStation Plus won't be a static service. It will evolve.
Greg Miller: So, on the evolution front, it was also announced today that the Hulu subscription plan is coming to the PS3 (eventually). Do you think that this fee could looped into PlayStation Plus? Could there me be some kind of discount?
Colin Moriarty: That would be nice, because I'm not going to pay a fee for something I could watch on my computer free of charge. I appreciate that it's coming to PSN and I'm glad for people who will get a lot of use out of it, but I'm not that person. What about you?
Greg Miller: Eh. Probably? I'm dumb; I want. I have Netflix, but I rarely use it. Still, I want it. I need to see what Hulu has nowadays. I don't watch all that much TV, so hopefully I can talk myself out of it, but we'll see.
Wrapping this up… I dig both Firmware 3.40 and PlayStation Plus. I think they're examples of Sony responding to the players, and that's always a good thing. Right now, I have all 100 friend slots filled on my PS3, and looking at the list, I see 11 PlayStation Plus icons. That's not bad considering a bunch of people at the end of my list haven't been on in three months -- I'M LOOKING AT YOU, WILL TUTTLE. I'm glad PlayStation Plus is here, and I can't wait to see what we get next month.
Colin Moriarty: I like the firmware update, too, and I think PlayStation Plus is a great deal for the PS3 hardcore audience. I also think it's great that PSN remains free for each and every person who owns a PS3, and I'm truly confused by the anger about the program. You should purge your friends list of inactives like I do so that you have a nice robust group of 100! But as I browse my list, I see... 12 PlayStation Plus users. Not bad indeed.
Thanks for the talk, Greg.
Greg Miller: Thank you, Colin.