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PlayStation Plus: A Beginner’s Guide

Online gaming is quickly becoming a staple in the gaming industry. Not only are online games enormously entertaining, but they also function as an effective mental exercise to improve your problem-solving, coordination, and social skills. If you are a big PlayStation fan, the ability to play games with your buddies regardless of location is always a welcome convenience.

A reliable cloud gaming service like PlayStation Plus will allow you to play games, communicate, and share your gameplay with anyone on your Network. For these features and more, a PlayStation Plus is a worthy investment for your gaming. Nothing does online gaming better than PlayStation Plus.

 

What is PlayStation?

Sony PlayStation Console
Photo by Sony PlayStation

 

PlayStation is a video game console developed by tech giant Sony. Sony released several versions of it over the years. The most popular and most recent version is the PlayStation 4 (PS4). This latest version has the most powerful software design. The controller supports HDR-10 high dynamic range video and 4K video resolution. It also can stream gameplay online with friends who are both nearby and far away. PlayStation 4 also has superb ergonomic features for extended gaming sessions. Some sources site PS4 as the fourth best-selling gaming console of all time. It directly competes with Microsoft’s Xbox One, Nintendo’s Wii U and the Switch controller. Sony also released a PS4 Slim and a PS4 Pro following the success of the original console.

Sony is also expected to release its newest product in the series, the PlayStation 5. Excited gamers are already signing up for the release of the product before the end of the year. This controller is expected to have better graphics, textures and lighting effects than even the PS4.  You could also read this article about the best PC Controllers available should you be interested in investing in alternative controllers.

 

What is PlayStation Plus?

PlayStation Plus Logo
Photo by NicePNG

 

PlayStation Plus is an online gaming subscription service specifically made for PlayStation 4. The software was intended as an additional feature to the standard subscription.  The Network comes free with the purchase of the PS4. However, the PlayStation Plus service requires separate subscription fees with varying payment frequently. Users can choose to pay monthly, trimonthly, or annual payment methods. There is also a free trial period of fourteen days for first-time users.

 

Benefits to Your PS4 Access

Benefits of PlayStation Plus
Photo by StockSnap

 

Subscribers get a full set of benefits for an affordable monthly fee. Users can download free or discounted content from the PlayStation Network. It also allows early access to games that have not yet been released to the rest of the PS4 community. System software updates and patches are automatically downloaded to the console. In addition, subscribers can save games and gameplay data to the PlayStation network server. Subscribers are allowed a maximum of 100 GB of internet storage space per month for this purpose. All saved data will remain in storage. However, this will only last for as long as you have an active PlayStation Plus subscription. Sony also releases free games each month that subscribers can download and play. There are also free themes and avatars available for download.

The cloud service allows gameplay on most PlayStation devices and PC. Gaming data is directed towards a cloud server that processes gameplay. The server then returns the stream directly to the device. This allows users to continue where they left off. There’s no multi-device functionality yet. You can’t play on a tablet or a phone. So you will only be able to play at home or wherever your console is located. Overall, the PlayStation Plus service is definitely worth the subscription.

PlayStation Plus works for multiple PlayStation devices and PCs connected to the consoles.  These include the PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, and PlayStation Vita. And of course, let’s not forget the Windows or macOS PCs that these consoles can connect with. All you need is a Bluetooth dongle between your PC and the console. The PlayStation Plus service is wireless, so no other connections are needed.

 

How to Get PlayStation Plus

How to Get PlayStation Plus
Photo by NicePNG

 

PlayStation Plus comes in four different packages. As mentioned, there is a free trial for first-time users of the PlayStation service. If you don’t already have an account fo PlayStation and would like to try the trial period, you can register here. Users with existing PlayStation accounts are not eligible for the free trial. Subscribers with existing accounts will have to renew your subscription and resume regular payment of subscription fees. In any case, here are the options for subscription depending on how often you want to pay:

  • 14-day trial: Free for first-time subscribers
  • One month: 10 Dollars
  • Three months: 25 Dollars
  • One Year: 60 Dollars

In essence, the various packages give you the same benefits. The only difference is the frequency of payment. Note however that the discount prices over time. The one-year subscription is cheaper in a year than having to pay for the $10 per month subscription. With the yearly subscription, you also get more than 60 games for free each year. If you do go for the long-term subscription, you won’t get a refund if you unsubscribe in the middle of it.

If you don’t want a full-on subscription, you can purchase PS Plus time cards. These are available in retail stores. These cards essentially cost the same as the monthly subscription. Note that you can also cancel your subscription at any moment. If you have unsubscribed, you can decide to come back later by signing up again. You will be able to access all the games that you’ve saved once again.

 

How to Subscribe to PlayStation Plus

How to Subscribe to PlayStation Plus
Photo by DG-RA

 

PlayStation Plus is available in all countries that support the PlayStations store. You can check the PlayStation store on your browser to see if you have access.

There are three ways you can purchase a PlayStation Plus subscription. The first option is to sign up for a subscription through the PlayStation Store on your PS4 or your web browser. The second is to sign up through the PlayStation Plus Hub on your PS4. Traditional subscriptions would require you to have funds on your PlayStation wallet. You will need to have funds ready to spend or a linked payment method. All subscription fees will be deducted from your PlayStation wallet. You can also opt to have it deduct straight from the payment method that you linked.

PlayStation Plus reserves the right to switch on the wallet function. This will automatically add funds to new subscriptions. This means that your subscriptions will automatically renew. Automatic renewal will happen even if your wallet funds are insufficient. Pending dues will also be automatically deducted from your wallet. This will pay for the content that you have ordered previously. Following a 14-day free trial, a recurring monthly of $ 13.95 will be deducted from your wallet.

Automatic payment and renewal is just PlayStation’s way of making sure that all dues are paid on time. However, if you dislike this policy you can always cancel your subscriptions. It’s the only way to be able to stop automatic renewal. It won’t charge you for anything you can’t use, except for when you fail to observe the 24-hour rule on cancellation. For this, you will need to make sure that you cancel your subscription at least 24 hours before the recurring payment date. Otherwise, you will be charged for subscription fees for the coming month.

 

Subscription Methods

Subscription Process
Photo by BiljaST

 

PlayStation Plus is a subscription-based service. The most common registration method is done online through the PlayStation main page. Having online access to your funds is a pre-requisite for this method. You should also have the ability and the know-how to transfer funds into your PlayStation wallet. The online wallet should have enough funds to cover the cost of your subscriptions, depending on how often you are required to pay.

However, if you only use multiplayer functions of your PS4 occasionally, a full subscription service might not be practical.  In this case, you can purchase PlayStation Plus gift cards. These work like prepaid cards to load your account.  These should be enough to cover your sporadic gaming needs. Overall, PlayStation wants to make sure that you are not strapped for options. There are multiple subscription methods available. Get your regular gaming fix with any of these methods:

  • PlayStation Store on PS4: On your PS4, go to the PlayStation Store. Scroll down to the Playstation Plus option in the die menu and click on it.
  • PlayStation Store on Web Browser: Open your Playstation Store through any web browser. Go to the Games tab and select PlayStation Plus.
  • PlayStation Plus Hub on your PS4: Go to the home screen of your PS4. On the far right, you will see a PlayStation plus symbol. This is a thick, yellow, slanted cross. Click on the symbol.
  • PlayStation Plus gift cards: You can purchase PlayStation gift cards through gaming stores. These have voucher codes that you can redeem through your PS4. To redeem your voucher, got to the PlayStation Store. Scroll to the bottom of the sidebar. Select Redeem Codes. Enter the code from the gift card and select Redeem. The credit or content will not automatically apply to your account.

 

How to Cancel Your Subscription to PlayStation Plus

Cancel PlayStation Plus Subscription
Photo by RaphaelSilva

You can cancel your PlayStation Plus subscription if you object to the auto-renewal. This can be done with just a few clicks through your PS4 Settings. However, doing so will delete all games that you have downloaded and saved to the Network. Cancel your subscription at least 24 hours before the recurring payment date. Otherwise, your account will be charged for the renewal fees. Nonetheless, you can replenish your subscription at any time. There are two ways to cancel the automatic renewal of your PlayStation Plus subscription. One is through the PlayStation Store and the other is through your PS4 Settings. Here’s how:

 

Through PS4:

  1. Open your PS4 Home Page.
  2. Go to Settings. Select Account Management.
  3. Click on Account Information. Select PlayStation Subscriptions.
  4. Select the button Turn off Auto-Renew.

 

Through the PlayStation Store on Your PC:

  1. Visit the PlayStation Network’s main website. Sign in to your user account.
  2. Go to the ‘Subscriptions management’ tab beneath your user ID.
  3. Select the current membership. Select the ‘Cancel Automatic Renewal’ button.
  4. You can ‘Turn on auto-renew’ before the expiry date of the current subscription period. This is in case you change your mind using the same method.

 

Features of PlayStation Plus

Features of PlayStation Plus
Photo by Pixabay

 

The combination of the PlayStation 4 and the PlayStation Plus is quite great. You get to enjoy all the extra features of the PS4. This includes cross-game chats, video streaming, and automatic software downloads. PS4 also has its web browser that you can access at any point. All these features are readily available with your console. You don’t even without a PlayStation Plus subscription for these.

However, we still recommend getting PlayStation Plus to get additional features. This includes online storage for your unfinished games. There are also game selection options and stream quality options. Both software come from the same company. Thus, we can expect dynamic and interactive menus for both.

 

Online storage

Online Storage
Photo by by TechArtIllustration

 

PlayStation Plus comes with free online storage for downloaded games. There’s also storage allotted to remember your gaming information. Users are given a maximum of 100 GB of online storage per month. Users can configure the software to automatically save unfished gameplays. Data from your primary PS4 controller are automatically uploaded to the server. However, you will need to manually upload gaming data if your current PS4 is not the main controller. The data will be retained there for as long as you have an active PlayStation Plus subscription.

 

User Interface

User Interface
Photo by 200Degrees

 

We cannot judge software without starting with the hardware that it belongs to. The PS4 is notable for its simple design and quick responses. All entertainment options are neatly contained under one section called the Content area. Options are prominently displayed in large icons. All features are also neatly arranged by the most recently used features. This way you’ll be able to find everything that you want to play.

All the games that you have played and saved onto the cloud storage are easy to locate. Next to your favorite games are extra features. These include Video Unlimited, Music Unlimited, and TV and Video functions. There’s also a Playroom, Live from PlayStation, Internet Browser and Library. Overall, the PS4 user interface has been described as usable and responsive.

Now take the user interface of the PS4 and add the PlayStation Plus features. The combination makes the user interface more interesting and intuitive. We can imagine that sifting through hundreds of games would be so easy with the PS4 interface. The experience is closer to sifting through social media or video-streaming sites. All the games you could play are all on in one panel and all you have to do is click and play. You get to pick the games from the cloud and play it in just a few clicks.

 

Game selection

Game Selection
Photo by ClkerFreeVectorImages

 

A PlayStation Plus subscription gives you special deals on hundreds of video games. All the games are available on the PlayStation Store. PlayStation reports that you can get as much as 75% off on the games. You can see two separate buttons for each game. There’s a download option for non-subscribers. There’s also another one just for PS Plus subscribers. Besides this, you also get to play approximately an hour for each new trial game that has not yet been released.

PlayStation Plus makes the gameplay more efficient and easily accessible. It enables you to stream hundreds of games through your PS4 console or your computer. And all the games you have either downloaded or streamed will be made available through your PS4 library. An active streaming service is more efficient. It essentially removes the need to download any game onto your console or computer. However, you can still do should you want to keep a game for offline play. The streaming service will connect you to a remote server. The server hosts the session for you and all remote players of the game.

As mentioned, Sony releases free games each month. It’s easy to jump to the conclusion that these free games would are not any good. But the truth is the majority to them are interesting and engaging. PlayStation also normally announces the games they’ll be giving out for free. This way, you won’t miss out on the free fun.

 

How to Use PlayStation Plus

How to Use PlayStation Plus
Photo by Clovis Cheminot

 

PlayStation Plus is simply an add-on feature to your PS4. The software is automatically activated on your PS4 the moment you subscribe. This means there are no special functions or features to be activated. The system can connect directly to the servers through the shared stream. You will just need to learn the basic steps for broadcasting gameplay and inviting users to join in.

 

How to use PlayStation Plus on PS4

If you plan on saving your gameplay to the cloud stream, you might want to activate your PS4 as the primary PS4. In any case, here are the steps to share your gameplay with other users via Share Play. Naturally, you’ll need a PlayStation Plus subscription and a good internet connection.

  1. Access the PlayStation Network store. Select any game that you want to stream.
  2. Click on the Share button on your controller.
  3. Go to the Broadcast Gameplay option.
  4. Select the streaming service you want to play on.
  5. Customize the gameplay title, video definition, and add-ons. You can customize audio sharing settings, message displays, etc.
  6. You can also send an invitation to your friend to join the stream. Just click on Select Players feature beside the Send Invitation to option. You can select from different groups (friends, favorite groups or following).
  7. You can also share the streaming link to social media. Just click on the live broadcasting option below the invitations feature.
  8. Click on Start Broadcasting once you’re done customizing the settings.

 

Comparison to XBox Live Gold

XBox Live Gold
Photo by TechRadar

 

The XBox Live Gold service is the online multiplayer service for XBox One and XBox 360. It is the equivalent of the PlayStation Plus, except for Microsoft XBox products. Both services are required to run online multiplayer games on their respective console brands. Either service are needed to play cooperative or competitive games with single or multiple companions over the internet. Both also essentially have the same cost at $ 10 per month and a cumulative cost of $ 60 per year.

 

Advantages

Like the PlayStation Plus, the XBox Live service offers free games each month in addition to discounts for digital games. Subscribers also get to enjoy members-only sales on some of the games available on the Microsoft store. Microsoft gives away two free games each month, which is the same for PlayStation Plus. You can redeem the free games through the Games in Gold feature. All games that you have redeemed can be downloaded and played at any time.

Both services also offer frequent discounts on digital games, and both provide cloud storage in different capacities. PlayStation Plus provides 100GB of cloud storage. Meanwhile, cloud storage service is already a default for XBox One. All gaming data are saved onto an XBox cloud independent of the XBox Live Gold service. Both services also allow users to change gamertags. Gamertags are made-up identities made for the sole purpose of gaming. The first change is for free while subsequent changes have a charge of $10 for every new gamertag.

 

Disadvantages

One advantage that XBox Live has over PlayStation Plus is stability. It appears that the PlayStation Network has suffered from some outages or temporary unavailability of its online services. XBox Live has not been reported to experience any similar incident so far. Xbox owners also have the option to add the XBox Game Pass Ultimate Service to their XBox Live service for only an additional $5 per month. On the other hand, there are no bundle deals existing for PlayStation Plus. The standard subscription to the PlayStation Network also doesn’t come with an online cloud storage. But you might only need this for online multiplayer storage anyway, so the online storage is not an absolute necessity for playing.

At the end of the day, the online multiplayer service you choose would also largely depend on which brand of PC controller you trust. Either way, both Microsoft and PlayStation have given you the option to play your favorite online multiplayer games with just a few clicks.

 

Games to Play on PlayStation Plus

Games to Play on PlayStation Plus
Photo by DavidRockDesign

 

There are hundreds of games available for download on the PlayStation Network store. Thankfully you won’t have to sift through them individually. The PlayStation store separates the most popular and newest games from the set into a special panel for easy selection. But if you happen to be a newcomer in the gaming field or simply want to explore new games to play, allow us to make a few recommendations.

 

Uncharted 4: Thief’s End

Ucharted 4 A Thief's End
Photo by PKG PS4

Thief’s End is a 2016 action-adventure themed game. Aside from action features, the game features jump and climb sequences. The story is centered on estranged brothers who search for a long-lost treasure in the middle of a forest. Players get to solve puzzles, use firearms, and engage in hand to hand combat. The game also features an artificial intelligence technology. This makes the characters more responsive and their actions more realistic.  Thief’s Game also won the Game of the Year award from several gaming publications.

 

BioShock: The Collection

BioShock
Photo by Bloody Disgusting

The BioShock Collection is a remastered version of the original series of the same name. The story revolves around the main character named Jack. Jack stumbles upon an underwater city called Rapture. The city was intended to be a utopia but a series of experiments render it the opposite. The goal of the game is to escape the city and save innocents using weapons and unique powers. BioShock received generally favorable reviews from critics. It’s also the first best-selling retail video game during the first week of its release. The game is generally considered to be above average. Critics praised the unique storyline and masterful use of the atmosphere to tell a story.

 

Dirt Rally 2.0

Dirt Rally 2.0
Photo by TrueAchievements

 

Dirt Rally is a first-person perspective racing video game. There’s no specific storyline, as it is a racing game after all. The players need to compete for speed on a tarmac or off-road terrains. The game is designed to simulate a realistic racing experience. It also features race tracks from several countries. These include Australia, New Zealand, and the US. A rallycross model also simulates a world championship-type of racing. Each surface stage has its own set of challenges. This is sure to keep the user focused and will require maximum concentration to complete. Gamers also have more than fifty rally cars to choose from throughout the game. Dirt Rally 2.0 has received generally positive reviews. It has been nominated several times for the award of the Racing Game of the Year.

These are just a few examples out of the myriad of games you can choose from. You can even search for each category online. If you already have a PlayStation subscription, you could check out this list of the best Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games (MMORPG) that you can play with your best buddies. You should also check out this list of virtual reality games made for PlayStation 4. IF, on the other hand, you are using a PC for your games, you can check out this article on the most epic  PC Games to play this year.

 

Final Verdict: Is PlayStation Plus Worth It?

Final Thoughts on PlayStation Plus
Photo by OpenClipart-Vectors

 

The PlayStation Plus package is a great example of network-based gaming technology. The software is best known for its mechanisms to improve remote gameplay. This includes cooperative and competitive multiplayer games on PS4. Players in separate locations playing as a team or competitors can benefit.

Although PlayStation Plus is not required to experience your PS4, it does add to the stock of features of your controller. These in combination are intended to radically improve your gameplay. Getting a PlayStation Plus will help you maximize your PS4, PS3, and PS Vita consoles. You not only get to use Sony’s newest console. You also get the full stock of advanced features that any game ware developer can offer.

With the PlayStation Plus, you’ll be able to take online gaming to the next level. You can play online games with a friend who lives far away from you or even your next-door neighbors. You can also unfasten video games or save your gameplay on cloud servers. The system also gives you access to the latest betas, demos, and games. There are hundreds of games on the PlayStation library for all ages and interests. So you can expect that there is always something new in store for you. You will also get a lot of discounts on the newest games.

After reviewing the benefits and perks that come with a PlayStation Plus subscription, we reckon that it is worth a try. You’ll get a lot of benefits for online gameplay. The packages are also affordable and reasonable. Granted, having a PS4 is already an achievement. Bring back the social aspect to your gaming and unleash the full power of your PS4 console with the PlayStation Plus.

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