Hey friend! Have you been gaming on PlayStation for a while and wondering – is PS online still free in 2023? Or are you just getting into PS4 or PS5 and want to know if you need a membership?
Well, I‘ve got you covered! After being a dedicated PlayStation gamer for over a decade, I‘ll walk you through everything you need to know about PlayStation‘s online memberships. Let‘s dive in!
Do You Need PS Plus for Online Play?
The short answer is: For most PlayStation games in 2023, PlayStation Plus is required for online multiplayer gaming.
This includes the vast majority of popular PS4 and PS5 titles like Call of Duty, FIFA, Elden Ring, Gran Turismo 7 and Horizon Forbidden West. PlayStation Plus (commonly called PS Plus or PS+) is Sony‘s premium online service that enables online multiplayer access and provides other benefits.
But, there are some exceptions I‘ll explain shortly!
First up, let‘s quickly cover what‘s included with a PlayStation Plus membership:
- Online multiplayer gaming for most PS4 and PS5 games
- 2-3 free monthly downloadable games
- Exclusive discounts on the PlayStation Store
- 100GB of cloud storage for game save backups
- Share Play to stream gameplay to friends
- Special member rewards, avatars, themes
- Early access to game demos and trials
If you want to play online multiplayer games on your PlayStation console in 2023, a PS Plus subscription is required for the majority of popular titles. Think of it like Xbox Live Gold for Xbox consoles – a membership is needed for full online access.
But don‘t worry, I‘ve got good news for you…
Free-to-Play Games Don‘t Require a Membership!
The main exception to needing PlayStation Plus is free-to-play games don‘t require a membership for online multiplayer. This is fantastic if you‘re looking to game online on a budget!
Some popular free titles you can play online without PS Plus include:
- Call of Duty Warzone
- Apex Legends
- Destiny 2 (non-expansion content)
- Genshin Impact
- Rocket League (base version)
So if you enjoy those games, you‘re all set online without needing a membership. Just bear in mind that purchasing expansions or season passes for some free-to-play games may require PlayStation Plus for certain modes or content.
But you can enjoy hundreds of hours of gameplay with those free titles without paying for online access. Nice!
Below I‘ll cover a bit of background on how we got to today‘s online membership requirements.
When Did PlayStation Online Stop Being Free?
If you‘ve gamed on PlayStation consoles since the PS3 days over 10 years ago, you may recall online multiplayer gaming used to be free! Here‘s a quick timeline of how we got to today‘s model:
PS3 – Launched in 2006 with free online gaming through PlayStation Network (PSN). PS Plus started as an optional subscription in 2010.
PS4 – Released in 2013 and required a PS Plus membership for most multiplayer gaming. Free-to-play games were exempt.
PS5 – Launched in 2020 with the same online requirements as PS4. A PS Plus membership remains necessary today for most games.
So while online gaming was initially free on PlayStation 3, the launch of PS4 introduced the PlayStation Plus requirement we still have today.
Sony stated this shift helped fund ongoing improvements and maintenance for PlayStation Network‘s online services. And with Xbox Live Gold already required for multiplayer on Xbox, it aligned with industry trends.
But the good news is free-to-play games stayed exempt, giving budget-friendly online gaming options to this day.
Now let‘s look at whether PlayStation Plus provides good value.
Is PS Plus Worth It for Multiplayer Gaming?
Given today‘s membership requirements, you may be wondering – is PlayStation Plus worth it for online multiplayer gaming? Or should it still be free?
Here are a few of the core pros and cons to weigh:
Pros of PS Plus for online play:
- Access 100+ multiplayer game libraries
- Connect with friends online
- Monthly games deliver 100+ free titles per year
- Member discounts save you money
- Cloud storage for secure game saves
Cons of PS Plus:
- $60-$120 yearly cost is not free
- Some may not use all membership benefits
- Free games don‘t need a membership
For players like me who enjoy online multiplayer gaming, the benefits easily justify the annual cost. Even if you only average 2-3 hours per week playing online with friends, that‘s 100+ hours of entertainment for ~$60 per year.
Plus you get 24+ free games, exclusive deals and secure cloud storage for your game saves. So if online gaming is your thing, PS Plus provides fantastic value.
But, I totally understand some players primarily enjoy single-player experiences. For those folks, PS Plus may be hard to justify. The membership perks likely aren‘t worth paying for if you don‘t play online regularly.
How Does PS Plus Price Compare to Other Services?
To help weigh the value proposition, here‘s a quick comparison of PlayStation Plus to some similar gaming memberships:
|Membership||Monthly Price||Yearly Price|
|PlayStation Plus Essential||$9.99||$59.99|
|Xbox Live Gold||$9.99||$59.99|
|Nintendo Switch Online||$3.99||$19.99|
|Game Pass Ultimate (Xbox)||$14.99||$179.88|
Among major console membership offerings, PlayStation Plus is competitively priced, especially considering the online multiplayer access and free monthly games you get. Xbox Live Gold matches it 1:1 in pricing and benefits.
Nintendo Switch Online is cheaper since Nintendo still offers free online multiplayer for many Switch games. Game Pass Ultimate includes online gaming access but is priced higher as more of a Netflix-style subscription.
So in the console space, PlayStation Plus holds up very well in value. But it still represents an extra cost compared to the PS3 era of free online multiplayer.
Does PS Plus Deliver Good Monthly Games?
Aside from online multiplayer access, one of the best parts of PlayStation Plus is getting 2-3 free games to download each month!
Over the course of a year, PS Plus members get access to 24+ free titles across PS4 and PS5. That‘s 100+ free games over the lifespan of a console generation.
The monthly free games feature is arguably worth the subscription cost alone. You get to expand your gaming library and discover titles you may have missed at launch. For example, here were some of the free PS Plus games over the past year:
- Tony Hawk‘s Pro Skater 1+2 (PS4/PS5)
- UFC 4 (PS4)
- God of War (PS4)
- Horizon Zero Dawn (PS4)
- Ark: Survival Evolved (PS4)
- Hot Wheels Unleashed (PS4/PS5)
The selection varies month-to-month between bigger AAA games and indie hits. But with 2-3 picks each month, PS Plus members get exposure to tons of free games.
For multiplayer fans, this combines with online gaming access for one nice overall package and good value.
What About the PlayStation Plus Collection for PS5 Owners?
An extra bonus PS Plus benefit for PlayStation 5 owners is the PlayStation Plus Collection – a library of popular PS4 titles that can be downloaded at no added cost.
It was introduced as a PS5 launch perk for PS Plus subscribers. Some stellar picks in the Collection include:
- God of War
- Mortal Kombat X
- Monster Hunter: World
- The Last of Us Remastered
- Uncharted 4: A Thief‘s End
This instantly gives PS5 owners an impressive back catalog of games to enjoy on their new console. The Collection will retire in May 2023, but remains a nice extra for current subscribers.
Between this library and the monthly games, long-time PS Plus users can build up quite the gaming vault!
Will PlayStation Bring Back Free Online Gaming?
Given the current membership requirements, you may wonder – are there any chances Sony reverts to free online multiplayer in the future?
Based on PlayStation‘s strategic direction, free online gaming looks unlikely in the short to mid-term. A few reasons why:
Recurring income – PS Plus subscriptions bring over $1 billion in recurring revenue annually for Sony now. This consistent income holds strategic importance.
Enables network growth – Member fees help fund ongoing development, maintenance and expansion of PlayStation Network‘s online services.
Competitive alignment – Xbox Live Gold being required for online play means paid memberships are now the industry standard.
With nearly 50 million PlayStation Plus subscribers in 2022, the service has become a core pillar of Sony‘s gaming business alongside PlayStation hardware sales.
Microsoft is similarly committed to Xbox Live Gold requirements across its console ecosystem. So for competitive and strategic reasons, it seems unlikely Sony reverts to free multiplayer in the foreseeable future.
I‘d love to get your thoughts! Do you think free online gaming could ever make a comeback? Let me know in the comments below!
What‘s the Verdict on PlayStation Online Memberships?
Well, that covers the full scoop on whether PlayStation online gaming is free or if PS Plus is required in 2023! Here are the key takeaways:
For most PS4 and PS5 games, PlayStation Plus is required for online multiplayer gaming. It‘s essentially the PlayStation equivalent of Xbox Live Gold.
Free-to-play games like Apex Legends allow online multiplayer without a PS Plus membership. So budget-friendly online gaming is still possible.
PlayStation Plus members get 24+ free games to download each year, delivering excellent extra value.
For players who enjoy frequent online gaming, PS Plus easily justifies its $60-$120 yearly cost with multiplayer access and free monthly titles. But it may be skippable for those focused on single-player experiences.
Given Sony‘s strategic direction, a return to completely free PlayStation online gaming looks unlikely in the near future. Recurring PS Plus income is now core to their business.
So in summary – PS Plus is required for the full multiplayer experience on PS4 and PS5 in 2023. But the membership ultimately provides solid benefits and value for regular online gamers.
I hope this fully covers whether PlayStation online is free or if you need PS Plus to play. Let me know if you have any other questions! I‘m happy to chat more in the comments. Enjoy gaming, my friend!