For Freebies, It's Tough to Beat PlayStation

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Steve Anderson
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For Freebies, It's Tough to Beat PlayStation

An unusual development hit recently, as discovered out at U.K publication Push Square, and it was a development that's going to render some shocks to console gamers with special account passes. Push Square did an analysis on how much value the games that PlayStation Plus gave away over the course of 2014, and brought back results accordingly. Polygon's Owen S. Good then did similar math for the Xbox 360, and discovered something very interesting all told: PlayStation players got quite a bit more than Xbox players did, but for an unexpected reason.

The math spells out the issue quite clearly: those who were PlayStation Plus members netted a hefty $1,349.29 in free games, while Xbox Live Gold members landed only $584.67. Sounds like a slam-dunk to Sony...until it's considered that the games involved for PlayStation Plus weren't just PlayStation 3 titles, but rather also PlayStation 4 and PS Vita titles as well. Add on that Games with Gold didn't really start in on the Xbox One until June, and it's clear that this year was sort of a lopsided competition at best. But interestingly, this wasn't just a clearinghouse for gaming garbage, either; Metacritic numbers for the PlayStation offerings were reportedly over 80 on average, while the Xbox offerings fielded an average not too far off at 78.3.

Still, this is interesting stuff. Yes, right now, Sony's well out in front in the freebie stakes, offering not only more games but on average better games, but Sony is also offering same for three different systems, and Microsoft meanwhile was offering up same for one and a half systems last year. What's really going to be the point to watch is 2015, when there's a full year's worth of free offerings for all the systems concerned; of course, there will likely still have to be some weighting done in Sony's three to Microsoft's two, but the picture can be established more clearly this way.

The free game phenomenon is the kind of thing that adds a certain spark to things; while it may not be enough to sell a system in its own right, it may be the kind of thing that makes frugal gamers think twice before coming back to a certain system, or making the jump to another system. One factor among many, really, the free game concept isn't much more than a part of the action. Still, though, it's clear that it could well make a difference, and given how competitive the space is becoming, there's a lot of room here to take an advantage in the market. That's the kind of advantage both companies need right now, because this may be the hottest-fought chapter of the console wars we've seen in a long time.

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