PS Plus price hike stings in face of low 5% interest in Premium games

The PS Plus Premium price hike for 2023 could lead to subscribers reassessing their options — especially with the player share of Premium games being so low.

PS Plus price hike stings in face of low 5% interest in Premium games
Lee Brady

Lee Brady

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With the PS Plus annual subscription price hike for 2023 raising 12-month PS Plus Premium subscription prices by up to 33.34%, Sony might not be surprised to see players wondering whether they're paying too much for trophies in PS1 classic games. This seems especially true when our exclusive data below indicates most PS Plus Premium subscribers aren't playing Premium's classic games — a trend that may see players rejecting the PS Plus Premium price hike for 2023.

PS Plus Premium and Extra 2023 player share breakdown

Using our exclusive gameplay data from 3.2 million active PSN accounts (courtesy of our partnership with GameInsights), we've tracked the debut performance of 2023's PS Plus Extra and Premium games to work out which games subscribers are actually playing each month. Our data covers every game this year that was eligible for our weekly PlayStation Chart, which tracks and ranks the top 200 most-played PS5 and PS4 games every week

PS Plus PremiumPS Plus Premium subscribers actually outnumber Extra subscribers.

So far in 2023, we've seen 87 PS Plus Extra games make the top 200, while only five PS Plus Premium games have seen enough active players to make the cut (as of Saturday, September 9, 2023). That likely won't surprise subscribers too much, seeing as each monthly update offers significantly more Extra games than Premium games. Yet, if we use averages to help contextualize the difference between the two tiers, that shows us that 70% of Extra games in 2023 have seen enough players to make the top 200 most-played PS5 and PS4 games of that week, while less than 20% of Premium titles have garnered the same attention.

Note: These rates might be affected by availability — 14.1 million subscribers can access Extra games, while only 8 million subscribers can access Premium games (according to Sony, as of March 2023). Yet, most new Premium games also receive a player boost from debuting on the PS Store at launch, and it seems the Premium games that have made the top 200 have little to differentiate them from the less popular titles in their tier beyond player interest.

For example, we might point to the recent TV adaptation to explain why Twisted Metal and Twisted Metal 2 gained enough traction to enter the top 200 most-played PS5 and PS4 games this year. Yet no equivalent justification can be made for the success of MediEvil Resurrection, a game that already has a superior PS4 port available via PS Plus Extra and no noteworthy recent media influencing its popularity. Therefore, while accessibility might have limited PS Plus Premium games entering the top 200, it seems general interest was largely the biggest deciding.
Getting an average of the active player data across these 92 PS Plus Extra and Premium games, the data suggests that the PS Plus Premium games of 2023 hold an overall 4.97% player share. A more generous figure can be found by narrowing the focus down to only the months where PS Plus Premium games made the top 200. Between these months, PS Plus Premium games saw an average 10.4% player share.

However, this statistic neglects months where Premium games have generally been ignored by subscribers, so it's definitely too generous. With our percentages either being a little too harsh, or a little too generous, we can presume the most accurate percentage is somewhere in between. So, it would seem the player share for PS Plus Premium games in 2023 lies somewhere between 5-10% among Extra and Premium subscribers.

PS Plus Pricing 2023The PS Plus annual price changes.

Why subscribe to PS Plus Premium if not for the classic games?

So, according to our data, most subscribers aren't actually using their subscription to play PS Plus Premium games. If, like me, you've been subscribed to Premium for over a year now, this won't come as a major surprise to you, because I know for a fact I've used my subscription far more often to play PS Plus Extra games. That said, if we're paying a higher price to access Premium's games, then why are we doing it?

Well, from my own experience, I would say the biggest driving factor for a Premium subscriber is FOMO — the 'fear of missing out.' While Sony's support of Premium's Classic Catalog has been, in my eyes, glacially and largely underwhelming, I still relish the opportunity to play as many classic PlayStation games as I can. That's largely why I've been happy to pay a little more for PS Plus — to avoid missing the chance to play these when they get added to the service.
Then, beyond FOMO, there's also the option of playing games with Premium's exclusive features. In my first year with the subscription, for example, I streamed Jumping Flash on PC after spying the game in our PlayStation Plus PC guide and had a great time. I also fell in love with Carrion through the PS Plus Trials feature, and I like the idea of trying out other games that way.

Yet, if I were to actually consider just how often I used these Premium features or played those exclusive games, I doubt I could justify having even subscribed for two months of PS Plus Premium, let alone two years. That's the power of FOMO — it makes you pay for the potential of things and turns a handful of good experiences into over $200 of subscription fees. The price hike just helps bring that obvious overspend into sharper relief.

PS PlusJust buy the Ape Escape games separately.

Smarter ways to spend your PS Plus Premium subscription cost

Of course, Sony already makes it pretty clear that you're overspending on PS Plus Premium, seeing as all those PS1, PS2, and PSP games on PS Plus with trophy support are also available to purchase and own individually via the PS Store. Before the recent price hike, 12 months of Premium cost $119.99 — meanwhile, PS1 and PSP games on the store cost $9.99. The big difference is people who aren't playing these via Premium get to keep the game.

With the price hike raising 12-month PS Plus Premium subscription costs by $40 a year, it's even harder to justify not buying the games your want outright. Put it this way: with $40, you could buy four of the five most played PS Plus Premium games of 2023 and still have change left over. That $40 would net you The Legend of Dragoon, Twisted Metal, Twisted Metal 2, and MediEvil Resurrection to keep on PS5 and PS4. Or, if you prefer, you could also afford to keep fifth title, Destroy All Humans, all on its own.
Now, if you could downgrade to PS Plus Extra, keep your access to the games you actually enjoy playing regularly with your subscription, and still use that $40 for all those classic PlayStation games, that would be something. Unfortunately, the price of a PS Plus Extra 12-month subscription has also increased by $35, so even if you downgrade you'll still need to pay $15 more than you paid for PS Plus Premium last year.

If you're not willing to spend more money on a PS Plus subscription regardless of the tier, then the next most affordable tier is the lowest — PS Plus Essential. The price for 12 months of PS Plus Essential has climbed by $20 after the price hike, and downgrading to this tier would result in Premium players having to give up access to the PS Plus Extra Game Catalog. This would be a shame, seeing as the data above suggests 95% of active Extra and Premium subscribers actually do play new games at that tier.

PS PlusA good fit, but for what price?

Still, there is an upshot: downgrading to PS Plus Essential's new price will still cost $40 less than what PS Plus Premium subscribers were paying prior to the PS Plus price hike. So, there you go — there is a way to still have a PS Plus subscription and save enough money to purchase all four of those classic PlayStation games after all.

As for myself, I think I'll be switching to a monthly on-and-off PS Plus Essential subscription — it was nice having this library of Extra and Premium games, but honestly, if I see new trophies in some PSP classic games that I like, I'll just save the cash and buy them outright next time. Will you be shaking things up following the PS Plus price hike? Will you be keeping your PS Plus Premium subscription regardless? Let us know down in the comments.

Chart compiled using gameplay data from over 3.2 million active PlayStation accounts (not just TrueTrophies accounts). Chart information is copyright GameInsights. Regarding this data:
  • Popularity is measured by a game being booted up and played, not by the length of time played.
  • Our data is good for suggesting general trends — we represent this using percentages, not numbers.
Written by Lee Brady
Staff Writer Lee keeps one eye on the future (Marvel's Spider-Man 2, Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth), one eye on the past (PS Plus Premium, recent Sony news), and his secret third eye on the junk he really likes (Sonic Superstars, Final Fantasy 16). Then he uses his big mouth to blurt out long-winded opinions about video games.
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