One the things I love the most about Sony's uber console, the PlayStation 3, is the fact that I can game online without coughing up any more of my hard earned cash.
Like many PS3 owners I suffered a moment of major panic late last week when Sony confirmed at an investor conference they are planning to launch a paid subscription model for the PS3s online services in 2010.
Such a move would bring see Sony operating a two-tiered online services business model for the PS3 that would most likely operate along similar lines to Microsoft's Xbox Live.
Xbox Live offers a premium Gold subscription and free Silver membership which only gives access to basic services.
Sony was quick to reassure panicked PS3 owners that they would not have to pay to play, with Sony Computer Entertainment CEO, Kaz Hirai issuing a statement stating that the present level of free online services available in the PS3 would remain.
Details around subscription based offerings will be announced in 2010.
Sony has already confirmed that premium services will include peripherals, software and some online services.
The presentation gives some tantalising hints at possible directions Sony are likely to take PS3 premium online services in.
Perhaps the most interesting bit - briefly hinted at by the presentation - was adding 3D capabilities ranging from 3D Blu-Ray playback and 3D games to the PS3 in 2010 via a downloadable update.
The presentation also talks up greater interconnectivity that could see the PlayStation 3's already impressive HD multimedia capabilities further bolstered by Sony integrating online services to its other products for easier access to media and content sharing.
Sony is also expected to expand the line up of Sony devices that have PS3 compatibility, while fans speculate that a PSP mobile phone could be on the cards over the next two years.
Sony also showed its E3-announced PS3 motion controller in the presentation.
When used with the PlayStation Eye camera, this could well usher in a new era of interactive gaming. Other premium services could also include video on demand and downloadable books and comics for the PSP.
Developers are also expected to become more active in the non-games space with Sony announcing during the presentation that they will be releasing a non-games software development kit in mid 2010. This could see a raft of interactive 3rd party products and services being offered via the PlayStation 3's online service.
Adding premium services plus a richer set of applications and hardware to the PlayStation 3 ecosystem makes considerable sense for Sony who are aiming to increase digital sales from the PlayStation Store to around NZ$797 million by the end of this year.
PlayStation Network fact
33 million registered users
5.4 million PS3 users sign in on a daily basis
1.4 million PS3 owners visit the PlayStation Store daily
25 Petabytes of applications, multimedia and games downloaded every month
By Pat Pilcher
Aslong as we keep the current free part..Im all good. what do you guys think?
Come on Tex you been expecting this as much as the rest of us lol, we always knew what we have now would remain free which to me gives us XBOX gold servie for free and adds a platinum level that is optional.
I cant wait to see what they will offer, I suspect cloud storage may come in, well I hope it does all my save games backed up online even copy protected saves, that to me alone would be worth the sub fee.
I dont think this information is new, but maybe first time its been officialised..
The area where they have the most room for maneuver is by removing (probably via the back door) basic services from the standard package that would make it unnecessarily awkward to play online without the additional subscription. Without doing this, nowhere near enough people will pay for something that isn't strictly necessary and doesn't offer any major benefits, which none of their proposals I have seen so far do.
The PSN as we know it now will remain free to play online, that's all that matters.
you know Sony have a very high track record of saying one thing and doing another... as I said on a similar thread... below is the service Sony will want to introduce but as yet wont admit it...
• free service gets access to PSNstore, but cannot chat and unable to play online...
• paid service gets access to PSNstore and you can chat and play online with other PSN (paid) users...