Console Gaming and Its Not so Well Hidden Fees

With my assortment of snacks, cozy blanket, and cat on my lap, I was all prepared to binge play Psycho-Pass: Mandatory Happiness yesterday. When I logged onto my PSN account, I saw little lock icons on the corners of many of my digitally downloaded games. Perplexed, I attempted to open Psycho-Pass, which also had a lock on it.  A message appeared: “Cannot use the content. Your license has expired. To use the content, purchase it from the PlayStation Store.” Every game that was previously downloaded through PSN Plus’ free game program now needed purchasing if I wanted to play it. It seems to me that they provide monthly “free rentals” and not free games. Apparently, my membership to PSN Plus had expired. I received no emails or notifications that my membership was doomed for expiration so soon.

Now I had to drop sixty dollars, oh, excuse me, $59.99, for a one year pass to play the games that, I was under the impression, I owned.

Once upon a time on the PS3, one had access to the online gaming world. You bought an online game and you could play it, no extra fees. But then, Sony decided to play copycat and followed in Microsoft’s corporate footsteps. PSN Plus is Xbox Live Gold, but for PlayStation. So much of modern gaming is online, which makes it essential to possess these memberships. The “free games” just make it all the more convincing to invest in it. It’s a genius idea that forces console gamers to spend more money, that’s why Sony was able to get away with raising the one year pass price from $40.00 to $59.99.

Net Neutrality seems to be nonexistent on consoles. Some internet access on the PlayStation is available from the get-go, but the most desirable parts, such as online gaming, requires an extra fee labeled as a membership. The frustration towards PSN Plus and Xbox Live Gold is nothing new. Microsoft and Sony have no doubt heard the complaints, but continue the system because we continue to buy into it. It’s important to vote with your money, but they’ve made the membership so necessary it is hard to vote against it. The question is, how much will we be willing to pay, and at what price is it no longer worth it?

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