Top 5 Reasons PSN PLAY is a Good Idea

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Earlier this month Sony announced a new promotion named PSN PLAY. In the announcement, they stated that PLAY would be an annual program aimed at promoting titles on their online service. August 23rd marks the first game of the promotion and will kick off a series of weekly releases culminating in a free title on September 19th for users who purchase all the games leading up to it. This promotion is eerily similar to Microsoft’s Summer of Arcade program which launched in 2008. I think Sony is making a smart move by countering Microsoft with PSN PLAY, and there are a handful of reasons why.

1. Summer of Arcade Generates Attention Let’s run through a handful of titles featured in the Summer of Arcade over the past few years. Castle Crashers, Limbo, Braid, Shadow Complex, Bionic Commando: Rearmed, and many others have made a huge impact on gamers despite being smaller, downloadable titles. I wouldn’t place all of their success on Summer of Arcade, as I’m sure the quality of their experiences drive a lot of buzz, but the promotion put these titles out in front of many more eyes. Microsoft helped elevate the exposure of games like these, and I believe it helped those titles reach new levels of success.

2. PSN Games Don’t Get Enough Attention Microsoft has a lot of fantastic exclusive titles on XBLA, but PSN has their own set of unique titles as well. Games like Flower, Super Stardust HD, and the Pixel Junk series seem to get a lot of attention, while other great titles like Joe Danger, Shatter, or even the PSN exclusive version of Tetris seem to fall by the waste side. Some titles, such as Shatter, see releases on other platforms like PC, but even then they don’t seem to garner much attention. There’s a wide variety of top-quality titles in the PSN library, but they’re sometimes too hard to find.

3. This Program Benefits Both Developers and Consumers The extra exposure to gamers means that the developers of those titles can make a stronger name for themselves. Twisted Pixel enjoyed a lot of exposure and praise when Splosion Man was a part of Summer of Arcade in 2009. So much so that it is the only game of theirs to receive a sequel, and the Summer of Arcade title Fruit Ninja is being packed in with their first on-disc release Gunslinger. As for gamers, they get to enjoy easier access to the best of what these platforms have to offer. There’s even an extra kickback for consumers that are savvy enough to purchase the first four games of the promotion in the form of a voucher for the fifth game.

4. PSN PLAY Could Promote What Makes PSN Great Part of what makes the Summer of Arcade so smart is that it pushes gamers to use the 360’s online store, and most to all of the titles in the program are 360 exclusive. Convincing the gaming public to purchase just one game during a promotion teaches them how easy it is to purchase things from their service and how high quality the titles are. Additionally, it can tout what makes the 360 so special by reminding the gamer that these experiences can only be found on the XBOX 360, at least for the time being. Unfortunately, the initial run of PSN PLAY is composed of entirely multi-platform titles, with the exception of the final game. Perhaps in the future it can take a greater role in boasting the platform’s strengths.

5. Sony May Do Similar Promotions in the Future The Summer of Arcade was such a success for Microsoft that they started a similar promotion for Spring--under the name Block party in 2010 and House Party in 2011. More promotions like these can only lead to better exposure for PSN titles, and that is something the platform desperately needs. PSN PLAY is a step in the right direction, but I hope it will expand to something much greater in the future. Whether that is in the form of new promotions or just bolstering this one, it can do nothing but good for all involved.

PSN PLAY launches later this month on August 23rd. It kicks off with Street Fighter III The Third Strike Online Edition which leads into weekly releases including The Baconing, Bloodrayne: Betrayal, Renegade Ops, and then culminating in the release of PAYDAY: The Heist. Hopefully this will see similar success to Microsoft’s Summer of Arcade because I think this is something PSN desperately needs. Sony already has a full house of strong titles, they just have to show us the cards.

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Erich Sherman
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