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What happens when PlayStation Plus games expire?

Andrew Yoon , @scxzor
In about a month, people who purchased a 3-month subscription to PlayStation Plus will be faced with one crucial question. What happens to my games when my subscription ends? Joystiq had access to a press-only 1 month trial, and recently found out the answer. Sony's premium online subscription service has offered a number of "free" games -- full PSN games, like WipEout HD and Critter Crunch, and a variety of Minis and PSone classics. However, these titles were all made available with a caveat: they'd remain accessible for as long as your subscription remained active.

Attempting to launch an expired game will trigger this prompt: "This content can be used if you renew the license in PlayStation Store." You'll be able to launch directly into the PlayStation Store, where you will be able to purchase the expired title. For example, we could purchase Aero Racer for its full price of $2.99 from the PlayStation Store. We could also choose to purchase a new PlayStation Plus subscription to extend the license.

Curiously, PSone games (like Syphon Filter) appear to work even after the Plus subscription ends. Although clearly marked as Expired under the game's "Details," the game launches normally. It's unclear if this is simply an oversight, or if this content is meant to be free, even after the end of a subscription (much like downloaded avatars and XMB themes). Nevertheless, we've asked Sony to clarify because, hey – permanently free games makes PlayStation Plus a much more palatable offer! If it's a glitch, you can look forward to another mandatory firmware update sometime soon (sorry!).

For some, PlayStation Plus's variety of discounts and trial games have already proven worth the price of admission. However, those that are unsatisfied with the service should take note of yet another caveat with the service. Subscriptions are automatically set to auto-renew, meaning 3-month subscribers have little time left to change their PSN settings. From Account Management, you'll want to ensure "Automatic Funding" is turned off, and check "Services" to turn off PlayStation Plus's auto-renew feature.

Go to "Account Management" in the XMB. Make sure "Automatic Funding" is turned Off to ensure your credit card isn't charged for any subscription renewal. Go to "Services" to edit any settings for your PlayStation Plus account.

Content that was purchased with an expired PlayStation Plus account will feature a blue shopping bag (as opposed to the usual red). If your account has expired, you will need to pay the game's full price to continue using it.