It looks like Summer of Arcade, it’s set up like Summer of Arcade, yet it’s not Summer of Arcade at all. Which is in some aspects alright, but in one key aspect it’s bad. Very bad.

PLAY was announced by the Playstation Blog this week, featuring five games; Street Fighter III Third Strike Online Edition, The Baconing, BloodRayne: Betrayal, Renegade Ops and Payday: The Heist, which you’ll get free if you buy the previous four before a certain date. 

First of all, the Playstation Store desperately needs this; Microsoft’s Summer of Arcade has been going strong for four years and promotions have not been PSN’s forté and as such this stands out. It’s certainly better than yet another discount for Fat Princess and other games brought out two or three years ago. Also, this offer is attempting to one-up SoA by first of all offering pre-orders which include free themes which is pleasant but completely negates what a pre-order is. If you were rewarded by getting the game one or two days early over the official release, this probably would be more effective.

The second idea comes through free DLC, even more themes or Playstation Home items when buying the games in the promotion period. Themes are throwaway anyway, while I believe Home is a graveyard which Sony believes is still full of caring, living people. This leaves free DLC, which for one of the games (Street Fighter) is just an early game unlock. So the only promotional exclusive bits are a co-op character for The Baconing and a vehicle and character pack for Renegade Ops. Wowee.

On a more positive note, as a PS Plus member I do get a nice 20% discount on these games, which is sensible. Sony needs to use the Plus system a lot more like this in order for it to be worthwhile.

The big problem, though, is the games. They’re not terrible, but I have no inclination to buy any of them, barring Payday: The Heist, and that’s only in passing; yet I am jealous that 360ers get Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet, From Dust and Bastion. What’s worse is that there is a sum total of one exclusive and one timed-exclusive, and that’s only for thirty days. The rest of them will release the same day as the XBLA versions. Compare and contrast with this year’s SoA, where all the games are exclusives for the duration of the promotion, with only two of the six being timed.

PLAY has some good ideas, but no real oomph to it. Maybe it’s unfair to judge a scheme in its first year to one in its fourth, but PSN needs to get to that standard otherwise PLAY will be left do exactly that with itself.


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