Converting to the new PlayStation Plus is hilariously complicated

Who doesn't love complex charts for *checks notes* video game subscription services?

Charlie Day confused GIF

When PlayStation unveiled its long-rumoured PlayStation Plus expansion, gamers quickly started wondering how their existing subscriptions would convert to the new one.

During this time, PlayStation remained quiet as it seemingly allowed people to buy PS Plus and Now memberships to stack them. Then, suddenly, the company disabled the ability to redeem codes for prepaid cards.

Now, it’s published an FAQ page for the new PS Plus — which merges the existing PS Plus with PS Now, plus adds retro games and free trials — to explain how membership conversion works.

Or rather, to release a bafflingly messy chart:

Part of this needlessly overcomplicated process boils down to the fact that PlayStation has broken down PS Plus into three tiers, and each of which has its own “conversion rate,” for lack of a better term. This further illustrates how inelegant the new PS Plus structure is; while it’s meant to streamline PlayStation’s services offering by combining Plus and Now, it just carves up everything in a different way.

Xbox Game Pass, by contrast, has two simple tiers — an $11.99/month base subscription for console and PC, and a $16.99/month ‘Ultimate’ that includes console, PC, streaming, Xbox Live Gold and more. Meanwhile, Nintendo’s Switch Online has simple monthly and annual options for both its base membership (required for online play) and the optional Expansion Pack for bonus games and add-on content. Why is this all so much more complicated on PlayStation?

It’s even stranger, too, when you consider that we don’t yet know the single most important thing about the new PS Plus: the catalogue. So far, the only games that have been confirmed are Death Stranding, God of War, Marvel’s Spider-Man, Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales, Mortal Kombat 11, and Returnal. Six games, out of “up to 400” for Essential and those, plus “up to 340 additional” titles, for Premium. That’s to say nothing of how the game trials might work — we don’t know for sure yet.

Even more frustrating is the fact that these are all modern games. What’s arguably most enticing about the new PS Plus is its promised retro catalogue, which will cover the PS1, PS2 and PSP generations. Some rumours have suggested a few titles we’ll get, including Syphon Filter and Tekken 2, but PlayStation hasn’t said anything official itself. Frankly, I’m not interested in even considering any of these conversion methods for PS Plus until we actually know what we’re getting for our money.

This is speaking to a larger trend this generation with PlayStation making things needlessly convoluted.

When the PS5 launched, PlayStation didn’t offer a way for your console to recognize which version of cross-gen games it should run. On Xbox, such a feature exists in the form of “Smart Delivery,” which automatically gives you the best version of these games on the new-gen hardware. The lack of such a feature even led to an issue in which players had to factory reset their consoles for a time. And for a while, we didn’t even know how many games would be PS5-only, despite PlayStation boss Jim Ryan once arrogantly stating “we believe in generations.”

Then there’s how the company has handled PS5 upgrades for its PS4 games. In September 2021, the company said the cross-gen title Horizon Forbidden West wouldn’t have a free upgrade path from PS4 to PS5, despite originally promising one, only to pivot and offer one after all. However, the company still ended up charging $10 more for the physical PS5 version of the game, even though you could technically buy the PS4 version then upgrade to avoid the fee. And while it’s likely the individual companies’ policies and not PlayStation’s, we’ve seen a few cases (Mortal Shell and, for a time, Final Fantasy VII Remake) where PlayStation Plus only netted you the PS4 versions of games, not their PS5 counterparts, which led to further head-scratching.

That doesn’t even touch on how storage expansion works on PS5, which requires opening up the PS5 and figuring out which compatible SSD to install. Once again, this process was far simpler on Xbox — simply insert an official third-party Seagate stick and you’re good to go. That’s not to say Xbox’s method is flawless, though, as they’re limited by lack of storage size options.

It all boils down to PlayStation’s communication lacking over the past couple of years. And on that note, we have a good idea of what’s coming from Xbox and Nintendo this year, while PlayStation’s lineup, outside of the undated God of War: Ragnarok, is currently unconfirmed.

I say all of this not out of some fanboyism — I love all three platforms in their own ways. If anything, I’ve always gravitated more towards PlayStation, as my first console was the PS1. But I’m getting increasingly tired of how tedious a lot of the company’s business practices are getting, with PS Plus now especially.

Unlike many others I’ve seen, I don’t even take issue with the new PS Plus not including day-one first-party games, as I understand Microsoft can afford to do that in a way Sony cannot. But it’s really not asking too much to ask for things to be a bit simpler with the service. Hopefully, that’ll happen — if not before the new PS Plus’ June 13th launch, then shortly after.

Image credit: Giphy ‘MOODMAN,’ Naughty Dog, Always Sunny Reaction GIF