PlayStation Plus (PS Plus) is Sony’s premium online service for PlayStation gamers. With the different membership tiers available, you may be wondering — do you need PS Plus to play online?
The short answer is yes, a PS Plus subscription is required for online multiplayer gaming on PlayStation.
PS Plus is Sony’s response to Xbox Live Gold. Just like Xbox users need Gold to play online, PlayStation users need PS Plus. The base membership tier, called PlayStation Plus Essential, provides online multiplayer access along with other benefits like monthly games and exclusive discounts.
Without a PS Plus membership, you can still access streaming services like Netflix and Disney+ on your PlayStation. You can also play single-player games offline. But as soon as you want to jump into online multiplayer, PS Plus becomes mandatory.
The Online Multiplayer Requirement
Ever since the launch of PS4 back in 2013, Sony has required a PS Plus subscription for online multiplayer gaming. This policy continues on the PS5, which released in 2020.
In the past, playing online was free on PlayStation. But with the rising costs of maintaining servers and building robust online infrastructures, Sony followed Microsoft’s lead and made PS Plus essential for online play.
When you try to access online multiplayer without an active PS Plus membership, you’ll get a notification informing you of the requirement. The only option is to subscribe to PS Plus or play in offline mode.
Some PlayStation classics like Fortnite and Apex Legends won’t even load without detecting an active PS Plus membership. So attempting to play the majority of popular online titles will simply lead you back to the subscription page.
The PS Plus requirement applies to all online multiplayer game modes. Whether you want to squad up in Call of Duty or race friends in Need for Speed, you’ll need PS Plus. The subscription is tied to your PlayStation Network account, so it covers online play across PS4 and PS5.
Playing Cross-Platform Titles Online
Cross-platform play is becoming more and more common.
With major games like Rocket League and Call of Duty allowing gamers on different systems to play together. However an important caveat is that you still need to follow the subscription rules for your specific platform.
If you’re playing Rocket League on your PlayStation, you need PS Plus for online play. Even if your friend on Xbox or Nintendo Switch doesn’t need a subscription.
Likewise, if you have an Xbox but your friend only has Rocket League on their PlayStation, you can play together online, but your friend will need PS Plus. The subscription requirements are based on which system you’re playing on rather than who you’re playing with.
So while cross-platform gaming is a great way to connect players across competing platforms, it doesn’t override the need for services like PlayStation Plus. Sony won’t make any exceptions for playing with friends on other systems.
Free-to-Play Games Don’t Require PS Plus
There is one big exception to the PS Plus requirement — free-to-play games. Popular titles like Fortnite, Apex Legends, and Warzone allow online multiplayer without PS Plus.
Sony doesn’t require a subscription for these “free to play” games since they are already generating revenue from in-game microtransactions. Requiring PS Plus on top of that could discourage players from downloading free-to-play titles on PlayStation.
However, the exception only applies specifically for games labeled as free to play. It does not apply to free games offered through PS Plus, PlayStation Now, PS Plus Premium catalogs, or limited time trial periods of full games.
So titles like Destiny 2, Fall Guys, and Rocket League did allow online play without PS Plus when they first launched as free-to-play titles. But after transitioning to a paid model or leaving beta development, PS Plus became required.
Is PlayStation Plus Worth It for Online Play?
At the end of the day, PlayStation Plus unlocks far more than just online multiplayer. You also get free monthly games, exclusive discounts, cloud storage for game saves, Share Play, and more depending on your membership tier.
If you regularly play popular online games like Call of Duty, FIFA, or Destiny 2, the yearly PS Plus Essential subscription easily pays for itself. You’d end up spending the same amount buying full-price annual releases of games like Madden and NBA 2K.
Consider PS Plus a necessary investment in your online gaming experience. It connects you with friends and other gamers while unlocking the full potential of your PlayStation library. The service has its drawbacks but remains essential for multiplayer.
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