What is the PlayStation Network ?
Sony’s online service for its PlayStation platforms is a constantly evolving ecosystem filled with fun entertainment experiences.
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Sony is more than just a maker of video game consoles, and the PlayStation Network is an online service that connects much of the Sony world together. It is available primarily through the PlayStation 4, but can also be found on Sony tablets, smartphones, TVs and Blu-ray players. The apps available on it plug into both Sony’s own catalogue of films, music and TV shows, and those of third-party content providers.
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The original online network for the PlayStation did not take off immediately upon its release alongside the launch of the PlayStation 2 in 2000. For a long time it was considered inferior to the Xbox Live service. During the PlayStation 2 cycle, there was no unifying profile across multiple games and services, with the mechanics behind online play defined by each individual game and its developer. Thankfully, this was rectified during the PlayStation 3 era, where the service rebranded as PlayStation Network and re-launched in 2006. Currently, the PlayStation Network stands toe-to-toe with Xbox Live in terms of functionality and user-interface.
Signing up to and using the PlayStation Network is free, however, there is a paid subscription option called PlayStation Plus that adds a number of beneficial features. In Australia, PlayStation Plus costs $69.95 per year, but it is possible to pay for it over smaller time periods for a reduced initial cost, although this is more expensive over a longer term. PlayStation Plus costs $9.95 per month, or $27.95 for three months. Before you lay down any cash, you can try PlayStation Plus for 14 days for free.
The paid subscription service for the PlayStation Network is called PlayStation Plus. This is required for anyone who wants to play multiplayer games online. It is essentially a mirror service to Microsoft's Xbox Live Gold. The key features you gain access to with a PlayStation Plus subscription are:
- The ability to play games online
- The ability to allow system software updates and game patches to download automatically when the console is off
- Exclusive or early access to beta trials of games
- Frequent and significant discounts on games, downloadable content, bundles and season passes.
- 10GB of online storage space for PS4 game save files
- 1GB of online storage space for PS3 game save files
- 1GB of online storage space for Vita game save files
- Up to six free games per month.
Once you have signed up for the upgrade from a PlayStation Network account to a PlayStation Plus account, all of its features will become immediately available. There is nothing extra you need to do. Each month, the free games that you will be able to download will be indicated on your Sony dashboard, and you only need “purchase” them (for $0) in order to add them to your library. There they will remain, constantly available on your hard drive until you cancel your subscription. However, once the month has ended, these games will revert to their original price and you will not be able to get them for the discounted price.
Multiple PlayStation Network accounts in the same home can gain access to PlayStation Plus benefits. If the primary profile on a PlayStation device is the one through which PlayStation Plus was purchased, then all secondary profiles are able to play online games, purchased games and downloaded games. However, the secondary accounts will not get early access to games, access to buy discounted or free games, or be able to make use of the 10GB of cloud storage for save files.
Are the Free Games Through PlayStation Plus Any Good?
Yes, they are. The PlayStation Plus program is certainly more reliant on downloadable indie projects to fulfil its monthly quota of free games than its Xbox counterpart Games With Gold, but there is certainly a sprinkling of large AAA blockbusters provided each year. Here is a full list of the games that have been made available to the service as of the time of writing.
Click here for a complete of games that have been free on PlayStation Plus
Unlike the Xbox One, the PlayStation 4 has not moved to a dedicated severs model for online multiplayer. Outside of instances where specific developers have supplied dedicated servers for their game, this means that online play on PlayStation works on the Peer-to-Peer system. When a multiplayer game begins, one player acts as the server (the central computer) and all other players connect through that user to each other and the game. This is not the ideal situation, as stability and speed issues are defined by location and quality of the host player’s equipment and connection. That said, it’s still functional and in most instances, you will be unaware of a downgrade in performance.
Share Play is a feature in which a friend or family member can connect to your PlayStation 4 through the Internet and play a game stored on your hard drive. In moment-to-moment gameplay, this can be used to have a friend help you past a difficult section of a game by taking control for a small period. But it can also allow for a remote player to enjoy a game they don’t even own. For example, you could allow a friend to take control of a game on your PS4 when you are not around and to let them play it to their heart’s content.
Cross-Play is a feature available to a select few PlayStation games and refers to the ability of the different formats in the Sony family to communicate in various ways through a game. The most exciting capability sees two players on different formats connecting in the same multiplayer experience. For example, one player may own the game on a Vita, and the other on a PlayStation 3, yet they contribute to the same available player pool when matchmaking occurs online and can play together. However, it can also refer to the ability to save the game on one format, and then pick-up and continue playing on another format from the same spot.
It appears, unfortunately, that Cross-Play is no longer actively supported by Sony and PlayStation. In the process of writing this article, we discovered that the support page on the official PlayStation website had been removed, and no recent games appear to support the feature.
Below is a list of games that are Cross-Play compatible:
|List of PlayStation Cross-Play Games||Platform|
|Alien Breed||PS3/PS Vita|
|Atomic Ninjas||PS3/PS Vita|
|Backgammon Blitz||PS4/PS3/PS Vita|
|BlazBlue: Chrono Phantasma EXTEND||PS3/PS Vita|
|DC Universe Online||PS4/PS3|
|Deathmatch Village||PS3/PS Vita|
|Dead or Alive 5||PS4/PS3/PS Vita|
|Dragon's Crown||PS3/PS Vita|
|Duke Nukem 3D: Megaton Edition||PS3//PS Vita|
|Dynasty Warriors 8: Xtreme Legends||PS4/PS Vita|
|Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn||PS4/PS3|
|God Eater 2: Rage Burst||PS4/PS Vita|
|Guilty Gear Xrd||PS4/PS3|
|Gundam Breaker 2||PS3/PS Vita|
|Hustle Kings||PS4/PS3/PS Vita|
|Invokers Tournament||PS4/PS3/PS Vita|
|MotorStorm RC||PS3/PS Vita|
|Natural Doctrine||PS4/PS3/PS Vita|
|Pixeljunk Shooter Ultimate||PS4/PS3/PS Vita|
|PlayStation All Stars Battle Royal||PS3/PS Vita|
|Ragnarok Odyssey ACE||PS3/PS Vita|
|Ratchet & Clank: Full Frontal Assault||PS3/PS Vita|
|Skullgirls 2nd Encore||PS4/PS3/PS Vita|
|Street Fighter x Tekken||PS3/PS Vita|
|Switch Galaxy Ultra||PS4/PS Vita|
|The Sly Collection||PS3/PS Vita|
|Toukiden Kiwami||PS4/PS Vita|
|Warriors Orochi 3 Ultimate||PS4/PS3|
|When Vikings Attack||PS3/PS Vita|
|Wipeout 2048||PS Vita|
|Zombie Tycoon 2: Brainhov’s Revenge||PS3/PSP|
Cross-Buy refers to the select few PlayStation games that are available on multiple formats, but only require one purchase to be playable across the suite. For example, if you purchase a Cross-Buy title on the PlayStation 4, it will be playable for free on the Vita and PlayStation 3 as well. It is not a commonly offered service and hasn’t been actively pushed by Sony in recent times. It obviously requires the same game to be available on both formats, although there has been instances where a delay of the game on one format (usually the Vita) means that the functionality has not been immediately available at launch.
|Full List of Cross-Buy PlayStation Games||Formats||Requirements|
|Action Henk||PS Vita / PS3 / PS4||N/A|
|Alien Breed||PS Vita / PS3||N/A|
|Another World||PS Vita / PS3 / PS4||N/A|
|Aqua Kitty: Milk Mine Defender DX||PS Vita / PS4||N/A|
|Back To Bed||PS Vita / PS3 / PS4||N/A|
|Badland: Game Of The Year Edition||PS Vita / PS3 / PS4||N/A|
|Bentley’s Hackpack||PS Vita / PS3||N/A|
|Big Sky Infinity||PS Vita / PS3||N/A|
|BIT.TRIP Presents… Runner2: Future Legend of Rhythm Alien||PS Vita / PS3||N/A|
|Broken Age||PS Vita / PS4||N/A|
|CastleStorm||PS Vita / PS3||N/A|
|Cel Damage HD||PS Vita / PS3 / PS4||N/A|
|Color Guardians||PS Vita / PS4||N/A|
|Cosmophony||PS Vita / PS3 / PS4||N/A|
|Counterspy||PS Vita / PS3 / PS4||N/A|
|Curses ‘N Chaos||PS Vita / PS4||N/A|
|Dead Nation||PS Vita / PS3||N/A|
|Divekick||PS Vita / PS3||N/A|
|Doki-Doki Universe||PS Vita / PS3 / PS4||N/A|
|Don’t Starve||PS Vita / PS4||N/A|
|Dragon Fantasy Book 1||PS Vita / PS3||N/A|
|Duke Nukem 3D: Megaton Edition||PS Vita / PS3||N/A|
|Entwined||PS Vita / PS3 / PS4||N/A|
|Escape Plan||PS Vita / PS4||N/A|
|Ethan: Meteor Hunter||PS Vita / PS3||N/A|
|Fez||PS Vita / PS3 / PS4||N/A|
|flOw||PS Vita / PS3 / PS4||N/A|
|Flower||PS Vita / PS3 / PS4||N/A|
|Futuridium||PS Vita / PS4||N/A|
|God Of War Collection||PS Vita / PS3||N/A|
|Grim Fandango Remastered||PS Vita / PS4||N/A|
|Guacamelee!||PS Vita / PS3||N/A|
|Hatoful Boyfriend||PS Vita / PS4||N/A|
|Helldivers||PS Vita / PS3 / PS4||N/A|
|Hohokum||PS Vita / PS3 / PS4||N/A|
|Home||PS Vita / PS4||N/A|
|Hotline Miami||PS Vita / PS3 / PS4||N/A|
|Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number||PS Vita / PS3 / PS4||N/A|
|Hustle Kings||PS Vita / PS3||N/A|
|Jet Car Stunts||PS Vita / PS3 / PS4||N/A|
|KickBeat||PS Vita / PS3||N/A|
|King Oddball||PS Vita / PS4||N/A|
|Knytt Underground||PS Vita / PS3||Buy On PS3|
|Little Big Planet||PS Vita / PS3||DLC Only|
|Lone Survivor: The Director’s Cut||PS Vita / PS3||N/A|
|Luftrausers||PS Vita / PS3||N/A|
|Metal Slug 3||PS Vita / PS3 / PS4||N/A|
|Mighty No. 9||PS Vita / PS3 / PS4||N/A|
|Minecraft||PS Vita / PS3||N/A|
|Minutes||PS Vita / PS4||N/A|
|MotorStorm RC||PS Vita / PS3||N/A|
|Mousecraft||PS Vita / PS3 / PS4||N/A|
|Nidhogg||PS Vita / PS4||N/A|
|Nova-111||PS Vita / PS3 / PS4||N/A|
|Octodad: Dadliest Catch||PS Vita / PS4||N/A|
|OlliOlli||PS Vita / PS3 / PS4||N/A|
|OlliOlli 2: Welcome To Olliwood||PS Vita / PS4||N/A|
|PixelJunk Shooter Ultimate||PS Vita / PS4||N/A|
|Pix The Cat||PS Vita / PS4||N/A|
|PlayStation All Stars Battle Royal||PS Vita / PS3||Buy On PS3|
|Poltergeist: A Pixelated Horror||PS Vita / PS4||N/A|
|Project Root||PS Vita / PS4||N/A|
|Proteus||PS Vita / PS3||N/A|
|Pumped BMX+||PS Vita / PS3 / PS4||N/A|
|Putty Squad||PS Vita / PS4||N/A|
|Q*bert Rebooted||PS Vita / PS3 / PS4||N/A|
|Race The Sun||PS Vita / PS3 / PS4||N/A|
|Ratchet And Clank: Q Force||PS Vita / PS3||Buy On PS3|
|Resogun||PS Vita / PS3 / PS4||N/A|
|Retro City Rampage||PS Vita / PS3||N/A|
|Retro City Rampage DX||PS Vita / PS3 / PS4||Does not work with limited edition version|
|Rock Boshers DX Director’s Cut||PS Vita / PS4||N/A|
|Rogue Legacy||PS Vita / PS3 / PS4||N/A|
|Rollers Of The Realm||PS Vita / PS4||N/A|
|Roundabout||PS Vita / PS4||N/A|
|Scram Kitty DX||PS Vita / PS4||N/A|
|Shovel Knight||PS Vita / PS3 / PS4||N/A|
|Sly Racoon||PS Vita / PS3||N/A|
|Sly 2: Band Of Thieves||PS Vita / PS3||N/A|
|Sly 3: Honour Among Thieves||PS Vita / PS3||N/A|
|Sly Cooper: Thieves In Time||PS Vita / PS3||Buy On PS3|
|Söldner-X 2: Final Prototype||PS Vita / PS3||N/A|
|Sound Shapes||PS Vita / PS3 / PS4||N/A|
|Star Wars Pinball||PS Vita / PS3 / PS4||Buy on PS3 or Vita|
|Stealth Inc: A Clone In The Dark||PS Vita / PS3||N/A|
|Stealth Inc 2: A Game Of Clones||PS Vita / PS3 / PS4||N/A|
|SteamWorld Dig||PS Vita / PS4||N/A|
|Stick It To The Man||PS Vita / PS3||N/A|
|Super Exploding Zoo!||PS Vita / PS4||N/A|
|Superfrog||PS Vita / PS3||N/A|
|Super Time Force Ultra||PS Vita / PS4||N/A|
|Switch Galaxy Ultra||PS Vita / PS4||N/A|
|The Bridge||PS Vita / PS3 / PS4||N/A|
|The Jak And Daxter Trilogy||PS Vita / PS3||Buy on PS3|
|The Pinball Arcade||PS Vita / PS3||N/A|
|The Sly Trilogy||PS Vita / PS3||Buy on PS3|
|The Swapper||PS Vita / PS3 / PS4||N/A|
|The Swindle||PS Vita / PS3 / PS4||N/A|
|The Unfinished Swan||PS Vita / PS3 / PS4||N/A|
|Thomas Was Alone||PS Vita / PS3||N/A|
|Tiny Troopers Joint Ops||PS Vita / PS3 / PS4||N/A|
|Titan Attacks||PS Vita / PS3 / PS4||N/A|
|Titan Souls||PS Vita / PS4||N/A|
|Top Darts||PS Vita / PS3||N/A|
|Torque!||PS Vita / PS4||N/A|
|Ultratron||PS Vita / PS3 / PS4||N/A|
|Velocibox||PS Vita / PS4||N/A|
|Velocity 2X||PS Vita / PS4||N/A|
|Volume||PS Vita / PS4||N/A|
|We Are Doomed||PS Vita / PS4||N/A|
|When Vikings Attack||PS Vita / PS3||N/A|
|Whispering Willows||PS Vita / PS4||N/A|
|WipEout HD||PS Vita / PS3||Buy on PS3 to Unlock Tracks in Wipeout 2048|
|WipEout HD Fury||PS Vita / PS3||Buy on PS3 to Unlock Tracks in Wipeout 2048|
|Woah Dave!||PS Vita / PS4||N/A|
|Xeodrifter||PS Vita / PS4||N/A|
|Zen Pinball 2||PS Vita / PS3 / PS4||Buy on PS3 or Vita|
What Apps Can You Get on the PlayStation Network
|SBS On Demand||Yes||Yes|
|Spotify||Yes (via PlayStation Music)||Yes|
When considering your internet plan, the two most important factors that will impact your PlayStation experience are the ping (the speed at which a signal goes up the network and back) and your download cap. A low ping is vital for a smooth online gaming experience, and will determine not only the speed at which the game plays, but ultimately how competitive you are. A high ping (say, anything above 40ms) will start materialising as lag. This is the experience of seeing things slightly after they have happened. For example, you will aim and shoot at a location where an opponent appears to be standing when, in reality, they have moved elsewhere and your screen has yet to update.
Your broadband plan's download cap is playing an ever more important role in console gaming because of the increase in file sizes of downloadable products, and the tendency for most games to get patched frequently. Even simple updates and patches can often measure into the gigabytes, while blockbuster releases can weigh in with download sizes over 40GB. As such small download caps can be easily eclipsed before a month is out.
General download and upload speeds also play a role, but have more specific impacts. For example, a poor download speed means it will take longer to pull down purchased products or patches, whereas a poor upload speed will impact your ability to stream your gameplay over services like Twitch, and share big files with friends such as gameplay footage. These are not essential to the act of playing a game, but should be considered when signing up to a plan.
What does the future look like for the PlayStation Network?
The PlayStation Network will continue to become a more vital part of the Sony console experience, and indeed its other channels like TV, Blu-ray, mobiles and tablets as human consumption moves evermore digital. Sony already has a strong catalogue of third-party content providers bringing entertainment to the console, and we’ve seen Sony attract more downloadable games from indie developers than any of its competitor formats. Any investment you make in the PlayStation Network will be well served moving into the future.
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