SIDE NOTE: I tried this topic on the Push Square forums first to test the waters, and then I wrote a less edited version of what you’re about to see on MyIGN; now it’s on here. I’ve edited it to fit to this site, so have fun reading my crap!
… Okay, I’m not doing that again.
Anyway, since I’m done wallowing in my own self pity, I’ll write about the question at hand. This month was the first month in a long time that Sony have offered Playstation Plus users an otherwise expensive big release, in NBA 2K16. Now, I know there’ll be a fair amount of people who would have been delighted with this offering, as it is one of the biggest releases to be put in the free games of the month deal, and it is a highly rated and popular game at that. For me, and I’m sure a lot of others, I’ve utilized this opportunity to play an NBA game, as I’ve kinda wanted to for a while, and I’m glad I’ve downloaded it because it seems a great sports game and a good addition to my Playstation 4 library. However, even though all this is great, is it as good a free release as Rocket League back in July last year? Personally, I wouldn’t say it is.
Firstly, I had barely heard about Rocket League before its free release on PSN, and thus it was a fantastic find and one I might not have ever experienced if it wasn’t for free. NBA 2K16 is not a fantastic find comparatively; I probably would have got one of the games in the series eventually anyway. Secondly, Rocket League’s success is largely down to its Playstation Plus availability: its the sort of game which needs a big amount of players from the start as an online based game, and that’s what it got as a result of taking the gamble to be part of the monthly deal. So it’s not just a personal thing, but Psyonix did very well from putting it onto the service. 2K, on the other hand, put on there an already hugely successful game which didn’t really need to have its word spread, or even a large playerbase to fuel its online service – because millions were already playing it, and it’s not an online based game like Rocket League is anyway — so that’s not even vital. The only benefit for 2K in making this particular NBA game available is giving people like me a chance to give it a go, and possibly getting a few extra sells in the grand scheme of things as a result of its boosted publicity in places like Britain, where the NBA games are relatively overshadowed by other big sports games like FIFA. Rocket League, however, needed PS Plus’ boost of awareness and players to get it to what it is today. What I’m trying to say is, Rocket League needed its place on the deal, NBA 2K16 does not – however good a deal it is for now.
Of course, the same could be said for Rocket League as for Broforce or Shutshimi, for example, as they were both two indie games at the time trying to get on their feet. Neither, though, have quite grabbed the extent of the attention Rocket League has received – particularly Shutshimi. There’s also Helldivers that was in a similar situation, and neither did that, although still successful. Broforce, for one, didn’t need it as much as Rocket League in terms of getting a big online playerbase, to boot. Rocket League has also had huge commercial success in general, with over 5 million sells so far: that must be partly down to being free on PS4. It can be said, easily, though, that Rocket League isn’t the only great free game to be on PS4 with PS Plus. The Binding of Isaac, for example was a great one, and so was SPORTS FRIENDS!? Now that is actually a brilliant one. But, in my opinion and based on its success, I reckon this particular soccar simulator is the best free game to have ever been on the PS4.
As you may have guessed, dear readers in the tens at most, Rocket League is my pick for PS4’s best free game. And although its success has been massively influenced by Psyonix’s use of Sony’s online service, it has won my heart as a game like not much else has. It’s ridiculously fun and its replay value is amazing, while its a surprisingly complex game underneath the cover of its premise; I find myself choosing it over most other games I own on a very frequent basis. It’s one of my favourite games of all time by this point. Although it would have performed well critically whatever the situation due to its fundamental quality as a game, Rocket League has also won over a huge fan base and a slightly odd bunch of banter masters, whilst it has won awards ranging from Best Independent Game of the Year to Sports Game of the Year (the last two points are linked, obviously). You have to think, without Playstation Plus would enough people at the big stage have been aware of Rocket League to give it these awards? Maybe a few, admittedly (again, its fundamental quality as a game), but its availability on PS Plus and its subsequent boost in popularity and awareness have surely given it a lot of help. I mean, it’s even got a spot into the eSports scene, and there are now apparently 15 million unique players who have played the game.
Broforce, although it is a great game and it gained some popularity as of its free availability, has not got anywhere near the attention Rocket League has or as much revenue as the $110 the car football game has earned Psyonix – which, for an indie game, is huge. Even though I don’t think all the credit has to be given to PS Plus, I think surely it gave Rocket League a huge jump start for what was going to be a fantastic future.
No other game has done this well on the PS4 in terms of success as a result of Playstation Plus. My cheeky lil’ extra question for the end is, will any other game be better?
Disagree with me if you like, but the evidence is there and I won’t budge.
Bringing redundant opinions for scrollers everywhere,