How Sony Got Their Groove Back
The PlayStation 3 has seen its fair share of stumbles (there's that word again!) throughout its life cycle. From the $600 price tag upon launch to the PlayStation Network outage, it's amazing to see Sony still pushing strong in this console generation. As a matter of fact, I'm about to make the argument that the future is looking brighter than ever for the company.
We start off with what I, and a lot of other gamers, look at first when assessing a system; the games. I've personally always been one to err on the side of the Xbox 360 when it comes to multi-platform games simply because almost every developer builds off of that version first. The differences between the PS3 and 360 versions of games are usually subtle. In other cases, however, you can end up with poor conversions (take Bayonetta and Skyrim as examples).
Sony has responded well to this fact by having exclusive content on their system's version of games. Some great examples of this include Kratos in the new Mortal Kombat or the Benedict Arnold missions in Assassin's Creed III. It's those little things that can easily push someone with both consoles in your favor. Hell, I ended up picking up the PS3 version of Portal 2 simply for the ability to connect with Steam and have a PC copy to boot!
What system isn't without its exclusives? Admittedly, the only games I was even interested in playing early in the PS3's life cycle that fit this mold was God of War III and Heavy Rain. Once again, Sony came through to rectify this problem though by building up strong IPs such as Uncharted and Infamous to name a couple. On top of that, there are plenty of big name games coming out like The Last of Us and Beyond: Two Souls. The recently released Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch is another PS3 only title that's already buzzing as being a contender for game of the year.
Still can't get over that these are in-game graphics
There's one thing that really sets the PlayStation 3 apart from its competitors that I would have never guessed until recently.
PlayStation Plus blows all other premium online gaming subscriptions out of the water.
That's right, I said it. Me, the guy who would almost always stand up for Xbox Live, has to admit the obvious in this case. How can you blame me? In its current build, a PS+ account grants you an instant game library full of ready to download games for free that has recently included heavy hitters such as Darksiders, BioShock 2, Infamous 2, Super Street Fighter IV, Little Big Planet 2, and many more. There are also deep discounts on games like The Unfinished Swan, Jak & Daxter, Ratchet & Clank, and Little Big Planet Karting. I won't even get into the free 60 minute trials that are always available. All this is available for a very manageable $50 per year (with an extra 3 months tacked on in this current deal).
The Pinnacle of Value
While we have made many points on the value of a PS+ account, it's hard to get an idea on just how amazing it is without comparing it to something else. The "something else" that we'll use in this case is Xbox Live Gold.
It has become increasingly more difficult to defend a service which doesn't offer anything quite like the PS3's instant game collection. On top of that, however, there are barely any discounts to speak of minus some rare instances of "throwing a bone" here and there.
But wait, there's more (less?)!
A lot of folks use Netflix on game consoles. We can agree on that, right? As long as you have an account, you're good to go... on PlayStation 3 anyway. Accessing the Netflix app (and pretty much every other app) requires an Xbox Live Gold account. Sometimes Microsoft will offer weekends where everyone can use Gold services. These are few and far between, though.
That's just cold, Microsoft
I will give Xbox Live the nod in terms of quality of online play. Yes, you do have to be a Gold member to play online as opposed to it being free on the PS3. That's a moment where I can see the money being put into a quality service that offers cross-play chat and security.
Now with the announcement of what appears to be the next Sony console looming near, we can hope and expect that the company takes what worked with PlayStation Plus on the PS3 into the upcoming cycle. This is the perfect example of the saying, "It's not how you start, it's how you finish." In that case, it looks like Sony will be crossing the finish line with champagne and flowers in hand.