Sony's PlayStation Plus subscription service for PS5 owners went through a major overhaul earlier this week. The new version brings together both of Sony's previous PlayStation subscriptions, the original Plus service and the now-defunct PlayStation Now. The former offered online play and access to a handful of games; the latter offered cloud streaming of some games.
The new single subscription, still called PlayStation Plus, combines online multiplayer, free monthly games and a standing game library available for download or streaming. That includes the games previously available on the old PS Now. Whether you just got a PS5 or are a long-time PS4 owner, here's what you need to know about the service change.
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PS Plus is required to play many multiplayer games online, and subscribers get access to new games each month (usually two) at no extra cost. The now-defunct PS Now is the originator of modern console cloud gaming (and Sony even bought the assets of OnLive, the long-dead originator of PC cloud gaming), although the service was not up to snuff when compared to its newer competitors.
Game subscriptions like PS Plus and Microsoft's Game Pass offer a sizable library of games for a monthly fee. They can also get a bit confusing due to frequent changes in features and available games. PlayStation Plus is additionally split into three tiers, Essential, Extra and Premium, with different prices for each.
Premium has features from both tiers and adds an additional 340 classic games to stream from the PlayStation 1, PS2, PS3 and PSP. Current subscribers to PS Now saw their subscriptions automatically convert to the Premium tier when the new PS Plus went into effect. Premium also has time-limited game trials that let you play the game for two hours before deciding to buy it. The Premium tier costs $18 a month or $120 per year. Subscribers can stream on their PS4, PS5 or download the PS Plus app for PC to play from their computers.
To compete with Xbox Live Gold, Sony created PS Plus in 2010 for the PlayStation 3. The subscription allowed for online multiplayer, discounts in the PSN Store, cloud saves and monthly extra games. Initially, PS Plus free games included PS3 and PSP titles. Eventually, it included Sony's other devices such as the PS Vita, PS4 and most recently, the PS5. Extra games included with the subscription are only available while a PS Plus subscription is active. Stop paying $10 per month, or $60 per year, and you lose access to those games.
Grandfathered PS Plus subscribers were changed to PS Plus Essential subscribers on June 13.
Cloud gaming may be hot right now, with major players like Google Stadia, Amazon Luna and Microsoft's Xbox Cloud Gaming beta, but it was Sony that first tried to make cloud gaming mainstream with PS Now in 2014. Earlier pioneers like OnLive and Gaikai (both eventually purchased by Sony) are now largely forgotten. More than 800 PS2, PS3, PS4 and PS5 games are available to stream or download on the PS4, PS5 or PC.
But lag remains a factor, like with other cloud gaming services. Game resolution has been recently updated from 720p to 1080p for some games, but that falls behind the 4K offered by Stadia. There's also a lack of newer titles in its library. Even major titles published by Sony such as The Last of Us Part 2 aren't on the service, nor is there any indication that they will be added. Those games that are added sometimes don't stay in the library for that long, with some available on PS Now for as little as three months. On the plus side, many of the PS4 games on the service can be downloaded rather than streamed, and there's a PC client for cloud gaming on computers as well.
PS Now subscribers automatically converted to the Premium PS Plus tier on June 13.
What changed on June 13 if I prepaid both PS Plus and PS Now subscriptions?
For those who are subscribed to both services and prepaid for them before the big change, Sony converted subscribers to PS Plus Premium with the expiration date being whichever of the two is the farthest out. This means that if you subscribed to PS Now until December 2022, but to PS Plus through December 2023, December 2023 will be the new expiration date for your PS Plus Premium subscription.
Can I extend my current subscriptions with a prepaid card?
Sony discontinued the ability to redeem prepaid PS Plus cards in April. The company has yet to say when it will allow redemptions again and how it will adjust the prepaid cards to the new PS Plus tiers.