The newly launched PlayStation Plus can be viewed as Sony's answer to Xbox Live Gold. However, there are two key differences – firstly, the service is completely optional, and secondly, it provides something substantial for the asking price.
Whereas Xbox Live Gold essentially charges you for online gaming, PS+ is a premium service filled with all kinds of extra goodies. This includes full game trials, automatic demo downloads and firmware updates, exclusive downloadable content, beta tests, PlayStation Store discounts and early access to PSN games. More importantly, if you don't like it, you can still game online for free.