Snagging Playstation Plus Games

PSN_FreeGames

Playstation Network Trick

This is a trick that my good friend Ashgar showed me some time ago, and I have talked a bit on the blog… but given several comments from my twitter feed I thought it was probably time to create a dedicated blog post about it.  One of the awesome things about Playstation Plus is the way that it synergizes between all of the available Sony platforms.  For the longest time I had only a Playstation 3, but had even intent of some day picking up both a Vita and a PS4.  At one point I think I was lamenting having to go upstairs and log in my PS3 because I had forgotten to grab that months free games.  It was then that Ash shared with me that you could in fact log in through the Playstation Network website and not only grab games for the systems you owned but also for everything that was currently available.  What was great about this is that for several months ahead of picking up my Vita and PS4 I was able to start stockpiling a library of games to play on it, so when I finally purchased them I had more than enough content to keep me interested.

PSN_PlaystationPlusGames

Having done this now for a couple of years… I have to say the Sony Network site is less than easy to navigate.  Since their site is somewhat resistant to deep linking, I sorted out the best path to get to where I needed to go in a matter of clicks.  As a way of demonstrating the path, I threw together a quick image.  Once logged into the website, from the site header click the “Games” tab in the menu bar.  On the next screen that loads click “Playstation Plus” which is confusing because there is also a Playstation Plus Specials option that doesn’t really lead where you want to go.  Finally on the next page click “Free Games” which will then get you to the area of that months games.  Now something I have noticed is that it sometimes takes a few days for the PS+ titles of the month to show up in this section.  From here it is simply a matter of adding all of the games to your cart and checking out.  The games will all have a $0 price on them, but you still have to formally check out with them to get them added to your account.  If you encounter games saying that you are “not eligible” generally speaking that means the game supports cross buy and you only need to have one copy of the game for it to work on all platforms.  The store however will be showing a separate copy of the game for each platform it is available on.  Go ahead and check out with what is available, and if you refresh the page all of the games should then show up as “Purchased” like the below screenshot.

PSN_FreeGames

Game With Gold As Well

The other thing I have realized is that this sort of trick works with Games with Gold from Microsoft as well.  Their system of releases is a little bit more fiddly as they seem to like to stagger them throughout the month, and when the next batch is released you generally lose access to the previous batch.  I have however been successfully adding Xbox One games to my account, without actually owning an Xbox One.  I figure at some point I will pick one up, and it will be nice to have a huge batch of games to play on it when I do.  The quirk with Games With Gold is that you have to check out with them individually, and often it still shows a price tag associated with the game… until you get to the final step of the checkout process.  Hopefully this post helps some folks out, because it is nice knowing that you can quickly snag your months worth of games without booting up the individual consoles.

License Portability

Golden Age of Ports

MortalKombatVersions

This morning is going to be yet another stunning example of “Bel Wants a Thing that Will Never Happen”, but I am going to roll with it anyways.  One of my big frustrations over the last several years is when I end up repurchasing the same game for a different platform.  For example I owned Fallout 3 long before Steam existed, but because I wanted the convenience of being able to play that game without having to rummage for discs every single time…  I ended up picking the game of the year edition on a steam sale.  But more often than this there are games that I have on the PC that I wish I could play on a console, or on a console and wish I could play on a PC.  Last night there was a discussion about the new Shovel Knight patch, and one of my immediate thoughts was…  man I kinda wish I had that on my 3DS since I have taken recently to bringing that to work to play.  Sure it isn’t terribly annoying to repurchase a $20 game, but it certainly feels it when you are talking about a $60 game.  Now we get to my wish…  portable licensing.  What I mean by that is the ability to swap licensing between various game systems that a game is available.  Don’t want to play Borderlands 2 on your PC anymore?  Fine trade that license in for the PS4 copy, and when you tire of that the Vita copy.

The problem is you are immediately going to tell me…  “but Bel this is how game companies make money, by releasing their game on every possible platform in the hopes that you will play pokegame with them and buy them all!”  Sure that is how things seem to work currently, but is that really a good model?  For years there was a significant amount of work porting games between consoles.  The Sega Genesis was a vastly different system than the Super Nintendo… and we constantly saw massive differences between the games that ended up on both platforms.  I took the liberty of snagging two screenshots of two different versions of Mortal Kombat II, from the golden age of porting games to multiple platforms.  You can see a bunch of graphical differences between the two based on the limitations of each architecture.  What has changed is the fact that console manufacturers do not have the same sort of pull that they used to.  PC Gaming became a major contender as has handheld platforms, and while console manufacturers still desperately cling to the notion of “exclusivity” this is a dying concept.  Systems are designed from the ground up to be essentially easy to port code to, because they know that the keys to their success is a huge library of popular games.

License Portability

2822353-sk_plagueofshadows_05

There are certain games out there that you know will ultimately end up on every single platform.  Take the example of the new Tomb Raider game that Microsoft claims to have exclusivity over.  They have not so subtly chosen their words every single time they have talked about and used the specific phrasing of “exclusive for holiday 2015”.  That means a few months after Christmas 2015 you will end up with a new launch for the PS4 and PC and whatever other platforms seem to matter at the time.  Essentially what I am proposing is to cut through this bullshit and simply sell licenses that you can move back and forth between the platforms.  I can see this going down one of several different ways, but not all of them are terribly easy to implement.  The best scenario is simply that if you purchase the game directly from a developer, you can create an account that allows you to log in and get a new license for whatever platform you happen to play the game on.  That means you are paying a non-discounted rate for the game, directly to the game developer cutting out the middle man…  and for that you gain the privilege of playing that game on whatever platform you happen to desire doing so.  There are a lot of logistics with this one, but I could see it working for someone like Ubisoft that already has their own gaming infrastructure in the form of UPlay.  That would actually turn that system from being a liability into being a positive for users, because as of right now… there is no reason for UPlay to exist other than to annoy us.

Another option would be some sort of a license swap scenario, where you trade in one license key for a new license key for the system of your choosing.  This honestly would work similar to PC software that allows you to install on a fixed number of machines.  In these cases there is almost always an online tool that allows you to unbind a license from a specific machine and install it fresh on another to allow for things like system rebuilds.  The problem being that right now there is no real way to make sure these licenses are leaving circulation, as in once a game is granted through a system like PSN, it becomes harder to revoke the game since you are having to deal with a third party company doing it for you.  The final option I would suggest is probably the easiest.  When you own the game on any platform you could purchase heavily discounted copies of the game for other platforms.  My theory is that you would ultimately end up paying something along the lines of 15-20% of the cost of the original game to get a new copy of the game for another platform. The problem here is that a system like this would be rife with potential abuse.  What is to say that I don’t buy the game on the PS4, and then get a discount key for my friend to play on their Xbox One.  The worse case scenario is after market sales of said discount keys.  None of these solutions are perfect, but I feel like if someone actually solved this solution… it would be a huge marketing point for any games they produce.  I have several PCs, a PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Nintendo 3DS, PS Vita, Android device, and iOS device if you limit the search to only the more recent systems.  It would be amazing to play the gamesI want to play on whatever systems they are available…  without going bankrupt doing so.

 

October PS+ Line-Up

Writers Block

I have to admit the last few mornings my blog post has been exceedingly difficult to write.  For whatever reason the words that generally flow so freely have been clogged up.  It feels like I just don’t have anything of any importance to talk about, which has never really stopped me in the past.  I guess I am writing this morning to show that even if I blog every single day…  I have days where I stare at the blank screen and can’t seem to figure out how to fill it.  Generally speaking if I poke around the internet for a bit and in that effort something pops into my head.  Today however all I really feel is tired.  I’ve been trying to come down with something, and yesterday I had all but lost my voice.  I keep thinking it is just allergies since I am not running a fever or anything, but not really sure at this point.  More than likely it is since I am struggling under a constant deluge of drainage.

I think part of what is making this morning such a struggle is that last night was one of those nights where I couldn’t quite get comfortable in any game I played.  I shifted between FFXIV, Dragon Age, Spunky, Destiny and even started Persona 4.  When my wife got home I packed up the upstairs and took my Vita downstairs and hung out playing from bed.  I have to say that is one of the coolest things about buying into the “Playstation” system is that everything interoperates so much better than the equivalent.  I am even considering picking up a Playstation TV to add another screen to the equation.  Right now pretty much anything I do on my PS4 I can do remotely, but my only desire is that the PS3 remote play worked better or more often.  There are still a ton of titles that I would like to play on that system as Playstation Plus keeps releasing more of them.

Drive Club Plus

Drive-Club And there we have it folks…  I have a topic to talk about.  There has been a bit of controversy over the last few days because due to consequences Sony has had to back away from one of the promised titles as part of the October Playstation Plus lineup.  Drive Club is a brand new game that is coming out for the PS4 and has been pretty hotly anticipated I might add.  Through some financial trickery they cut a deal to offer it for free as part of the Playstation Plus subscription through a special Drive Club Plus edition.  Granted this version did not include all of the tracks or cars, but was apparently otherwise fully functional.  I was somewhat shocked when I read about it, since in essence this free copy would allow you to join clubs and race with your friends just like if you had purchased the full version.  Additionally Plus members were going to be given the option to plunk down $50 to upgrade to the full fledged copy of the game and get all the bits and baubles they were missing.

Unfortunately as the game launched the servers being run for the game buckled under the weight.  I feel like Sony made the right call here to delay giving this title away in an effort to help stabilize the launch.  The truth is that folks plunked down money for the full priced version of the game, and they should come first.  Granted this is coming from someone who has been a long time subscriber to Playstation Plus.  The natives are restless however because a number of folks decided to pony up for Plus ONLY to get their free copy of Drive Club.  The thing is that they are still going to get it…  just not quite yet.  What frustrates me is listening to the folks Rage about what is already the best deal in gaming hands down.  Where else can you play $50 for an entire year and have six titles delivered to you every month.  Even if you don’t like a few titles here and there… it is still a phenomenal deal.

October PS+ Line-Up

One of the tricks I learned several months back from my good friend Ashgar is that you didn’t actually have to log into the Playstation Store from any of your devices.  There is one handy dandy web based interface where you can access all of your free monthly Playstation Plus titles, as well as queue them to download to any of your devices.  So if you are a Playstation Plus member I highly suggest “purchasing” everything each month regardless if you want to play it or own the device.  For ages I only has a PS3 and still found it a good deal… but all the while I was picking up titles for that console I was also picking them up for both PS4 and Vita knowing that someday I would end up picking up those consoles.  When I got my PS4 I had over a half dozen titles sitting there waiting on me, and when I got my Vita I had around 50 titles that I could play.  The subscription is a great deal but even more so when you have all of the consoles they are giving titles away for.  This month seems to be significantly better than most of the recent ones, so I thought I would go into the titles available right now.

Spelunky

spelunky Available for PS4, PS3, Vita

This is a title I have wanted to play for some time, but never ended up grabbing it.  The idea is that you are a cave explorer looking for treasure, and combating the traps you encounter along the way.  What the game is known for is for being extremely unforgiving in that when you die your game is over and you respawn at the beginning of the area with nothing to show for your accomplishment.  In that aspect it feels a little bit like Rogue Legacy without the whole generations aspect.  I played it for a bit last night on the PS4 and had fun.

Pix the Cat

pixthecat Available for PS4, Vita

This title looks to be a frantic mix of Pac Man and the classic Snake game that we all played so damned much on our Nokia 5120 phones.  Look I am old… I had one of those phones and it was the only game available.  This game seems perfectly suited for the Vita but is also available on PS4, and as part of the whole Bragtoberfest event I believe it was Murf that proposed a challenge to see who could get the highest score on this game.  I have yet to crack it open but it is installed on both Vita and PS4 so I will get around to it eventually.

Dust: An Elysian Tail

dustAvailable for PS4

This is another game that I have wanted to play for some time.  Hell I even own it on steam thanks to one of the many “indie bundles” that I have picked up over the years.  The irony is that now that it is on a console I am actually far more likely to play it.  I really like the Dual Shock 4 controller… and until I pony up the $60 to buy one for my PC, I am likely going to favor playing certain kinds of games on the PS4.  Ultimately this is a really cool looking Metroidvania about a series of anthropomorphic animals as they go on a quest to do something or another.  I really don’t know much about the story, but supposedly it is actually rather good.  Looking forward to playing.

Rainbow Moon

rainbowmoon Available for PS3, Vita

This game looks really cool, and I am not sure how it was completely off my radar.  Essentially it looks like Final Fantasy Tactics by another developer to be truthful.  The gameplay looks really similar, and I am hoping it is just as detailed and in depth.  This will add yet another long form JRPG that I need to play on my Vita, as that device is quickly becoming almost exclusive for laying in bed and playing them.  Last night for example I started Persona 4 Golden.  The JRPG genre is really ideally suited for that handheld, and I am sure Rainbow Moon will be no different.

Dungeons and Dragons: Chronicles of Mystara

DandD Available for PS3

This game…  so much love for this game.  For me at least this is the pinnacle of the 90s era arcade beat-em-up games.  This is a collection of two arcade games, one of which was super rare here in the United States.  What made it so damned awesome at the time was that you would sit down at this rather imposing looking machine with three of your friends and play your way through a choose your adventure style quest.  At various points you are prompted for what exactly you are going to do… do you save the town or do you save the docks.  Each step moves you down a branching path towards the conclusion.  I loved this game so much that I ordered the import from Japan that was only available for the Sega Saturn.  What makes this version awesome is that it supports network multiplayer just like the Steam copy, so a perfect excuse to go smash some kobolds with friends.

Batman Arkham Asylum

batman Available for PS3

So here comes confession time…  I have never beaten this game or frankly made it terribly far into it.  I have had it on Steam for ages, but when I first tried to play it, I attempted to play it with a keyboard and mouse and found the overall experience frustrating.  I simply never went back and tried it again.  What I find most interesting about this is that ages ago Playstation Plus gave away the later games, but we had yet to receive the original until now.  As such I am looking forward to playing this as I didn’t want to jump in on the second or third game without playing the original.  Something about it being on a console makes it seem more appealing.

And there you have it… this months line up of games.  While don’t get Drive Club Plus yet, there is still a ton of awesome to be had there.  What I love the most is that when they give away a game they generally also give away the cross buy rights, meaning if something is available on multiple platforms you can play it on whichever one you choose.  Cross buy is one of those features that really endears me to the Playstation system of consoles, and especially since most of the newer titles also feature cross-save letting me start a game on my PS4 and then pick it up on the native vita client.  In any case I personally think it is a pretty damned good month that will only get better when they finally unlock the keys to the Drive Club kingdom in a few weeks.

#DriveClub #PlaystationPlus

Three Hours Well Spent

Kidneys Safe, Vita Obtained

I have a running joke with my friend Rae, that each time I go off to meet someone to make a purchase from Craigslist that I am more than likely going to end up in a ditch somewhere missing a kidney.  What can I say… I have a dark sense of humor.  Regardless of this eventual fate, I am extremely cheap by nature, or more so I cannot stand paying more for something than I actually have to.  As a result there are a handful of things I search Craigslist for a few times a week, one of them is the Playstation Vita.  For a long while I have known that sooner or later I would get one, but seeing as I have a pretty lousy track record for playing handheld games…  I most certainly did not want to pay much for it.  Essentially handheld gaming is awesome if you travel a lot…  whereas I actually actively avoid travel.  If I am at home, I am more than likely going to be on my PC or one of my consoles rather than milling about on a handheld.  That said I am still very much enthralled by handheld gaming, and the since I have a PS3 and a PS4…  the Vita remote play functionality even as limited as it might be…  seemed intriguing.

So the other day when I found a Vita that had been posted for a few days for $100 that came with two games… both of them something I would play, I honestly thought it was too good to be true.  However over the course of a series of text messages I gleaned two things.  Firstly that I suspected the person that was selling the unit was female, and that they did in fact seem legitimate.  This is my own personal bias at work, but generally I consider women far more trustworthy than men, and potentially less likely to steal my kidney.  I could not meet up that day so we scheduled a meeting for yesterday after work.  Basically I did not want to mention it on the blog, because I really didn’t want to jinx it.  There was a comedy of errors however when it came to actually meeting up.  The person lived in a town roughly thirty minutes away from the southern most point of the Tulsa Metro.  Since I prefer to meet at QuikTrip for safety sake, and that town did not have one… we decided to meet at one in Glenpool, thinking I had been there multiple times and it would be in the path she had to travel anyways.

Wrong QuikTrip

The only problem is that apparently Glenpool is big enough to actually have two QuikTrips… both of which are apparently across the street from a McDonalds.  I must have looked insane walking around the QuikTrip parking lot looking for a pink and grey Chevy cruze.  Like I was confused enough at one point that I even googled what a Chevy Cruze looked like on my phone, because I thought maybe I was not remembering which model was which.  Once we realized we were at two separate locations she came to me because I had zero clue where she was.  Everything checked out, the Vita is pretty awesome and only has a few scratches here and there on the case.  It came with the vita unit, 4 gb memory card, charge cable, car charger, soft sided case, rubberized skin for the unit, Injustice Ultimate Edition game and The Walking Dead game.  The owner had wiped it back to factory settings so all I had to do when I got home was set the unit up and I was streaming Resogun from my PS4 in a matter of moments.

The main reason why I knew sooner or later that I would get a Vita is that I have been a member of Playstation Plus for awhile.  One of the awesome things about Playstation Plus is it is blanket subscription and does not care at all if you actually own the piece of hardware it is giving away games for.  So since the moment I started subscribing I have been picking up every Vita game offered through the web storefront.  As a result I now have a library of 35 good titles ready to download to my Vita.  The only thing I need to pick up really is a bigger memory card, because quite frankly 4 gb will not hold much of anything.  All in all this makes for another wildly successful Craigslist purchase.  One of the things I am going to have to test out soon is the ability to play across the internet from my PS4 sitting at home.  I’ve heard mixed reviews about it, but just the fact that something like that could possibly exist seems awesome.  Also if you are on PSN and we are not already friends… look up “Belghast Sternblade”.

Three Hours Well Spent

I have seen the Realm Maintenance podcast a few times before, but never actually sat down to listen to it.  I tend to listen to podcasts when I can during the day because it makes the work day go a little faster.  Yesterday Godmother of Alternative Chat had linked this weeks episode, which is a special 100th episode that included her.  The podcast was rather daunting, in that it was a 3 hour retrospective of a bunch of wow podcasters being interviewed and the results knitted together into a narrative.  While it took me literally all of the day to get through it, listening in bursts here and there…  I have to say it was three hours well spent.  Listening to the collective pet peeves, advice and challenges of all of these extremely successful and popular podcasts was rather inspiring.  I would not really put myself or the work we do with Aggrochat in the same league as any of these people, but it was awesome to hear that they had struggled with some of the same issues I had.

One of the most interesting takeaways from the whole show is that for the most part, all of the podcasters list radio and more often than not NPR as being an important influence.  I guess to some extent that makes sense, because what is a podcast if not an online radio show.  If I am in my car I am pretty much always listening to NPR, and I know personally I wanted to do a podcast out of a sense of awe of everything that radio can be.  I’m a huge fan of This American Life and have even gone and seen Ira Glass in person, when he did a lecture here in town.  One of the tougher questions the various guests were asked…  was who their favorite podcast is.  Most of them gave extremely diplomatic answers, but I have to say for me at least there are two podcasts that I pretty much drop everything I am doing to listen to when they are posted.  The first of these is Alternative Chat, because Godmother somehow takes the production value of This American Life, and condenses it into a fifteen minute bite sized chunk.  It is very easy to listen to because I know, no matter what else I have going on, that I will receive this fifteen minute vignette of awesome.

The other podcast that I listen to as soon as it is posted is that of the Battle Bards.  There are two things that make this experience awesome.  The first is the chemistry that has evolved between Sypster, MMOGC and Syl.  Their tastes in music and games have this weird way of fluttering back and forth between complimenting each other and diverging at the same time.  So on a specific topic you might get two of the three to agree, but I have never really seen all three agree on something at exactly the same moment.  This chemistry aside, I love the focus of the podcast because I too am extremely passionate about video game music.  While I might not know the whys and hows like they do… or even know the composers by name…  when I am not listening to podcasts at work, I am listening to soundtracks.  Video game music has always stirred my imagination in ways that nothing else quite can.  It is this warm blanket of nostalgia that I wrap myself in regularly, and it is always awesome to listen to the Bards as they dissect various tracks that I know and love.

Overly Cerebral Morning

Divinity2 2014-07-01 22-22-07-779 As is the case with so many mornings, I sat down to write with a vague idea of some of the things I might talk about.  However as a whole this morning shaped up to be far more cerebral than normal.  I wish I had pictures to at least accompany some of my giant walls of text, but alas you are going to have to settle for a really cool shot from Divinity II last night.  When I got home from my adventure I piddled around with my vita for a bit, logged into Wildstar to claim another boom box and then after our walk settled into Divinity again for the rest of the night.  I find it so odd that I have fallen so in love with a game that is over six years old at this point.  Everything about the game still feels fresh and new to me, and I am loving exploring this world.  All my of my friends are busy and enthralled with Divinity: Original Sin… but at this point I don’t even want to look at that game until I “finish” this one.

I have a feeling that “finishing” Divinity II is going to be a lot like “finishing” Skyrim.  That there will always be something left unfinished and begging for me to wander around and finish at a later time.  The only thing that makes me question this, is that already the game has made some significant changes that caused me to lose access to a number of quests.  The world keeps getting stranger, and I am not really sure how I feel about the chief antagonist.  He keeps showing up to taunt me, and then instead of actually attacking me… sends an army of fodder at me claiming it will “finish me off”.  While I am sure I cannot take him down yet…  I am level 30 and wondering how long this game actually runs.  I am only in the second “area” so far, but not sure just how many more there are.  I know of at least one more that is connected to the area I am in currently, but at this point I have put almost twenty hours into the game and feel no closer a finish than I did at the very beginning.  I love when a game feels like it could go on forever like that.