At their E3 2013 Press Conference, Sony revealed that PlayStation Plus would be required for online play using the PS4. It was an announcement that, under different circumstances, might have elicited a negative reaction, but given the way Sony packaged the reveal most gamers didn’t seem to mind.
However, since Sony more or less slipped this announcement under the radar, they didn’t take the time to outline what specific online services will be locked behind PS Plus’ pay wall. Microsoft, for example, requires Xbox Live Gold for all of their online services, including Netflix and Hulu Plus.
While it must have been tempting for Sony, they have decided not to follow Microsoft’s lead by locking all of their online services behind the PS Plus subscription. Not only that, they are actually pulling one of the PS3’s PS Plus features — automatic updates — and offering it to every PS4 owner.
Obviously, Sony wants gamers to take advantage of the many benefits of a PS Plus subscription — Instant Game Collection, cloud saves, multiplayer access for PS4 — but there are certain features, as explained by SCEE’s Fergal Gara to CVG, that won’t be gated:
“If you choose not to subscribe we are still gating relatively little in many senses, so access to online catch-up TV and online movie services sit outside of the gate, for example. The social features of PS4 and PS4 games sit out of the subscription service. Things like auto-updates on PS4 sit outside of PlayStation Plus, so we’re trying to be as balanced and as fair as we possibly can.”
Automatic updates became a useful feature to those gamers who were constantly waiting for slow, hour-long updates to finish. The hope would be that the PS4 would speed up those updates, but at the very least gamers can now set those updates to download overnight.
While free automatic updates are all well and good, we have to wonder why Sony didn’t also include cloud saves as a free feature. Both cloud saves and automatic updates were key selling points for PS Plus — nice bonuses, if you will — but being able to store save files online has become almost a necessity. Still, if PS3 owners had to choose, we’d bet they’d select automatic updates over cloud saves.
Was it important that Sony make automatic updates a free feature? What other features do you think Sony shouldn’t keep behind the PS Plus gate?