I tend to do my best thinking in those clockless hours when even the debaucherous are snoring into some stranger's pillow. You know the time: It's still dark, but people with proper careers are up and dressing for their early morning run. That's when, for whatever reason, what few brain cells survived the weed-choked and booze-soaked holocaust of my adolescence flicker to life, fire up their synaptic connections, and materialize a good idea or two.
My latest idea was to upgrade my PS3's HDD. Being short on cash and long on impulsivity, (not to mention it being 3:55 in the morning) I wasn't quite sure how to scratch this itch. Then I remembered the old Gateway laptop I had abused into uselessness a year or so ago. I dashed into my bedroom closet and retrieved the battered old thing. A handful of screws, a mouthful of inappropriate words, and about 20 minutes later, I was rocking a fat PlayStation 3 with a 250 gig hard drive. (Okay, okay, it was more like 203, since the HDD had a partition on it, and you never get the full amount anyway)
I was as proud as a peacock. It was as if I had upgraded myself, rather than some gaming console. I felt like a freaking cyborg!But what to do with this newfound space?
I'm not proud of what I did next. Well, what I almost did next. I, JBStone, champion of gamer's rights and consumer's rights (True Ownership, mofo!) logged onto the PlayStation Network with the intention of...the thought of it stiffens my fingers like arthritis...buying a game digitally!
I know, I know. Can't lend it to a friend, can't trade it in towards another game, can't even return it if you hate it. Consumers have virtually no rights when it comes to digital content, thanks to corporate geed and a medium that allows them to call the shots without any real oversight. But...but...my poor hard drive was empty!
Long story short, before I even had a chance to browse, I noticed an ad for PS+. Now, I'm not some caveman who had never heard of Sony's service before, but, admittedly, I didn't know much about it, other than it seemed to offer discounts much in the same way GameStop offers discounts to its rewards club members. I almost didn't give it a second look, until I saw something called the Instant Game Collection.
I suddenly remembered the Sony stage show at E3, when Generic Corporate Guy got his one and only moment of public appreciation after announcing that Sony wouldn't be doing any of the evil DRM crap Microsoft was trying to pull. He had mentioned something about the Instant Game Collection, but it didn't really stick at the time. I guess I must have figured it was just another digital snowjob.
Boy, was I wrong.
I was like a kid in a candy store. Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception, Deus Ex: Human Revolution, Saints Row: The Third, X-Com: Enemy Unknown (what's with all the colons?) all there for the taking, all free! And more games are added every month!
I wonder if I signed up? Uh, yeah, I signed up.
As of this writing, I've discovered the seisure-inducing goodness of Vanquished, the point-and-clickiness of Machinarium, and the unbridled joy of a quality Mario Kart ripoff in Little Big Planet Karting, and all for only the price of admisison. (About $6, since I got the 3-month subscription as a test run) I mean, what the eff? Why has no one told me about this? Does anyone else even know? Last week, I was cataonic with joy at the prospect of Microsoft giving away a game I didn't even like in Fable 3, so can you imagine how stoked I am at the prospect of playing X-Com for nothing?
Okay, gotta calm down. This is starting to sound like a Sony commerical.
Yes, there is a hitch. Unlike the XBox Live offer, (which only lasts until the One comes out, by the way) you don't actually own the free PS+ games. You sort of rent them, much in the same way you rent Netflix's library of streaming titles--you can use them so long as you're a member. Let membership expire, and you lose access to the games, even though they take up space on your HDD. (My hard drive! Squee!) But, if you join again in the future, you'll have access again to all of the titles you activated, even if you've erased them and they've been cycled out of the free lineup.
It's a great deal. Viewed as a Netflix-style service, there's nothing but good things to say about it. And free games aren't the only perk. I am kicking myself for not doing this sooner, because I missed out on a huge E3 sale, which heavily discounted digital titles for PS+ members. There was also a sale some time ago on "ultimate edition" games--basically Game of the Year editions; the full game with all of its DLC--for 50% off.
I can't say enough about this service. I had previously considered XBox Live to be the (no pun intended) gold standard of online console services, but PS+ really blows it out of the water. I'm not a Steam user, but it sure sounds a lot more like than the Live does, with the big discounts and incentive to become a member outside of wanting to make your console more than just an offline machine.
No idea why more people aren't talking about this.