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CAN PLAYSTATION’S PLAY AT HOME COLLECTION SNAG NEW PLAYERS?

PlayStation is giving back to its community with the Play At Home collection, a slate of 11 games that players can download for free starting on Friday. The offer includes Abzu, Astro Bot Rescue Mission (PSVR), Enter the Gungeon, Horizon: Zero Dawn Complete Edition (beginning April 19), Moss (PSVR), Paper Beast (PSVR), Ratchet and Clank 2016 (available now until March 31), Rez Infinite, Subnautica, Thumper (PSVR) and The Witness, as well as an extended trial offer of Funimation’s subscription streaming service.

Below, VENN’s Brittany Spurlin and Jason Fanelli discuss the wins and losses of the Play At Home collection.

Jason Fanelli: On paper this is a very varied, very impressive list, wouldn’t you say?

Brittany Spurlin: On paper, yes, especially coupled with the Funimation partnership (I’m a major weeb). However, outside of Horizon: Zero Dawn Complete Edition and Subnautica, I hadn’t previously heard of most of these titles. I appreciate Sony is encouraging its community to get involved with indie titles and wish more AAA titles would do so. It’s a bit of a bummer I don’t have PlayStation VR equipment, as four of the offered titles are PSVR. What do you make of that?

Fanelli: I do have a PSVR, so I’m able to enjoy the entire slate. However, I also know that I’m very much a minority when it comes to PS4 owners (115 millions PS4s sold versus 5 millions PSVRs), so I have to wonder why so much emphasis has been placed on VR games. That being said, the four offered here are some of the best on the platform, from Astro Bot: Rescue Mission’s Super Mario 64-style gameplay to Moss’s amazing storybook world. If I were to recommend a PSVR to someone (you, in this case Brittany), at least three of these four titles would be included in the recommendation. Therefore, if you’re someone looking to grab a PSVR soon, make sure you put these games in your library so you’re ready.

Going back to your AAA wish, I agree that having more AAA publishers included in this would be great, but I get why they would hold out. These free games are going out DRM-free, just flat out free games for PS4 players, and that’s pretty freakin’ cool. Is the PR boost that would come to a Square Enix or a Capcom worth the inevitably lost sales? I don’t know.

Spurlin: Thanks for the recommendation! I will definitely look into acquiring a PSVR — hopefully in time to take advantage of those titles during Play At Home. I would argue it would be worth it for a Square Enix or Capcom to give out free titles as PlayStation is doing. None of the titles offered are PS exclusives. I could easily log into my Xbox and pay $15 to play Enter the Gungeon, but there’s not necessarily an incentive to do so. At prices like that, I’m not sure PlayStation is losing a ton of revenue by giving these games away. They are gaining the PR boost you mentioned and giving folks a reason to stay home and keep gaming during a time when folks are getting vaccinated and feeling safe to go out and do other things. That aside, will you take part in Play At Home? While I like the chance to play indie titles for free, I’m not sure the games offered spark enough excitement to download.

Fanelli: Through many years of training, thanks to my PlayStation Plus subscription, I’ve learned the art of the “add to library.” I will likely put the ones I haven’t added already into my PS library and play them … eventually. There are a few I’ve had my eye on for a bit, Enter the Gungeon and Paper Beast among them, but I’ll try anything once if they’re giving it away.

I can understand the lack of excitement, as we’ve mentioned a lot of these games are smaller indie titles that might not spark a lot of joy into the players out there. Ratchet and Clank and Horizon Zero Dawn both are excellent tentpoles to this initiative, but I’ve already played the latter and I’ve never played a Ratchet and Clank game before (which may surprise a few people).

Going back to those two titles specifically, it seems a bit, uh, convenient that those are the free first-party games in Play at Home considering they both have sequels coming soon. Did you get the same vibe when you saw the announcement?

Spurlin: I hadn’t even thought of that, good catch! It makes sense they’d want to give away those games to get people excited about buying the sequels.

Fanelli: Criticisms aside, I don’t want to downplay the fact that eleven games are being given away for free and DRM-free, that is unprecedented in the console space. PS Plus games and Games with Gold on Xbox have that “if your subscription runs out you lose the games” caveat that these games don’t have, and that’s super cool. I hope other companies heed Sony’s call on this and let a few old games from the library out for players to enjoy, especially now as this dang pandemic wraps up and life progresses to whatever the new normal will be.

Good on you PlayStation, Play at Home is an awesome gesture.

Photo courtesy of Sony Interactive Entertainment

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