A year after launch, the PS Plus Game Catalog is finally an Xbox Game Pass rival

PlayStation Plus logo
(Image credit: Sony)

PS Plus has been around for well over a decade, but it’s only been within the last year since its relaunch that the service finally hit its stride. As the competition excelled with cloud-based streaming and download-on-demand titles, Sony needed an answer. Now, at the beginning of 2023, the console manufacturer has finally found the best solution possible. 

I’ve been a PlayStation gamer for over 20 years and a PS5 owner since getting my hands on one the better part of two years ago. However, until very recently, I was never subscribed to PS Plus. In my mind, there was no incentive to spend money just to play online with prior consoles or the latest in the line-up. Thankfully, that changed when the newly revised service hit shelves with Essential, Extra, and Premium tiers. 

It’s all in direct response to Xbox Game Pass, and while the PS Plus Game Catalog isn’t quite as good yet, in my opinion, there’s more than enough available on the Sony side of the fence to justify upgrading. That’s because there’s a wealth of over 400 titles available, that I wouldn’t normally devote my time or wallet to. At a time when many of the best PS5 games tend to hover around the $60 / £60 / AU$99.99, the greatest strength here is being able to explore new experiences without breaking the bank. 

In some cases, PlayStation-exclusive titles can even exceed these standard prices, as we saw with Demon’s Souls, Returnal, and Ghost of Tsushima at $70 / £70 / AU$125. All these titles, at the time of writing, are now available to download at no additional cost through the PS Plus Extra Game Catalog. You aren’t getting day-one releases as with Microsoft’s leading client, but I think Sony’s efforts are well worth commending all things considered. 

All your games are belong to us  

You can play your flute in Ghost of Tsushima to change the weather.

(Image credit: Sucker Punch)

That’s the initial appeal of the PS Plus Game Catalog, sure. You’re paying a monthly fee of $14.99 / £10.99 / AU$18.95 (the price of the Extra tier) to get some heavy hitters without shelling out hundreds of dollars otherwise. However, the deeper I dug, the more I became interested in games I wouldn’t normally spend my money on. 

I like to think I’m the kind of person that plays pretty much anything, but I do find it pretty challenging to convince myself to spend full price on a game that I might not like. I’ve been burned countless times over the years, as have many, which typically means I spend time reading reviews and watching gameplay before committing to a new experience. However, the Game Catalog removed that fear in me; it essentially acted as the virtual Blockbuster store I didn’t know I needed on the PS5 platform.

For example, I’ve recently finally sat down and played Spider-Man: Miles Morales and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. You see, while I’m a big fan of Marvel’s Spider-Man from a few years ago, I didn’t immediately rush into the next entry because of the price of entry. Miles’ chapter isn’t quite a full-length game, clocking in around eight hours when all is said and done - which is a little less than half of the run time of the original at a similar price point. 

In for a penny  

Norman Reedus as Sam Porter-Bridges in Death Stranding

(Image credit: 505)

Game-length debate aside, PS Plus had opened entire new genres to me that I wouldn’t usually pay for. I’ve now got close to 40 games in my PlayStation Plus game library, many of which are downloaded to my SSD for PS5, and I’m just as excited about jumping into PS4 games that I’ve missed over the years as I have been with catching up on the latest and greatest.

Some immediate titles that come to mind are Yakuza: Like a Dragon, Mortal Shell, and Death Stranding, the latter of which I was on the fence about experiencing due to its long run time and demanding nature. With more games being added every month, and some sure to disappear, I have a new incentive to try things out. In a world where game demos have all but been eradicated, I no longer have any worry about devoting time to new games. I just play them, and if I like what I see then I continue. 

If the price of games in 2023 was a major obstacle as to why I don’t get around to as many as I’d like, then the value argument here reigns supreme. That’s because I can afford £10.99 / $14.99 / AU$18.95 per month to play as many games as I want and know that at least five or six at any one time can hold my interest. I am not in the position to throw down what would have been full-price or discounted rates to do the same. That’s where the PS Plus Game Catalog excels. It isn’t Game Pass, but it doesn’t have to be; as long as it continues to build on this foundation, I’ll keep playing what gets put out.  

Aleksha McLoughlin

Aleksha McLoughlin is an experienced hardware writer. She was previously the Hardware Editor for TechRadar Gaming until September 2023. During this time, she looked after buying guides and wrote hardware reviews, news, and features. She has also contributed hardware content to the likes of PC Gamer, Trusted Reviews, Dexerto, Expert Reviews, and Android Central. When she isn't working, you'll often find her in mosh pits at metal gigs and festivals or listening to whatever new black and death metal has debuted that week.