The BAFTA's annual games awards were announced last night, and there was a clear winner taking not just one award but four: Returnal on PS5 walked away with the Audio Achievement award, the Best Music award, the Best Performer In A Leading Role award and most importantly of all, the Best Game award. Sony will be delighted, because Returnal is also the highest profile launch title for 'Project Spartacus', the revamped, Game Pass-rivalling new PlayStation Plus.
Being able to play Returnal on PS Plus is also good news for gamers like me. I really want to play Returnal, but I don't want to pay lots of money for it because I am not good at punishingly difficult games – and Returnal is infamous for its difficulty. It's also expensive, even on the second hand market. For me that's a really toxic combination: I don't want to drop fifty-plus quid on a game that I might only see a tiny bit of. With PlayStation Plus, I won't have to.
Why I love gaming subscriptions like Game Pass and PS Plus
That's why I like gaming subscriptions so much. If I didn't have Game Pass I wouldn't have played Hades, because I don't tend to do well in roguelike games. And that would be a shame, because Hades is now one of my favourite games. And if it weren't for Game Pass I might have been more annoyed by the difficulty spikes in some FPSes, some of which were so large that I never finished the games after one rage-quit too many.
I'm still not sure if I'll subscribe to PS Plus in the long term, but I'll definitely give it a go so I can play Returnal – and I think that's a win for me and for Sony. If Returnal does turn out to be as horribly difficult as my game journalist friends tell me it is, then I won't be massively out of pocket – but it means Sony will still have got some of my money instead of nothing at all.
I don't know about the economics of Game Pass and PS Plus. I don't how much money makes its way to the studios. But I do know that as a gamer, such services do give at least some of my money to the studios and creators – money that doesn't go to them when I buy second-hand games on eBay. I suspect there are plenty more gamers just like me, for whom a subscription is a safer bet than a straight sale. I hope PS Plus keeps us in mind.