19th August 2009 - In this generation of consoles, one of the most important aspects of gaming on the Playstation 3 and in particular the Xbox 360 has been online gaming and the general online services. Microsoft established theirs very well on the original Xbox, while Sony’s online service for the PS2 was pretty much a non-factor and could not stand up to Xbox Live.
With the release of the Xbox 360, Microsoft brought us the next level in console online gaming and services with the revamped and much improved Xbox Live.
When Sony released the PS3, the online service (Playstation Network – PSN) they offered was very basic and was no match for Xbox Live. Due to this Sony chose not to charge anyone for it. However, as time has gone on, Sony has continued the no charge policy for the Playstation Network (PSN), while 360 owners are still paying for their gold Xbox Live subscriptions. Since its release, Sony has continually updated and improved the PSN service to a stage that it almost equals the Xbox Live service even after the many updates Microsoft have applied to Xbox Live. Sony has even released the online application HOME, still without charging PS3 owners for the privilege of accessing it. Yes, both Microsoft and Sony charge for the downloadable content, but PS3 owners have complete access to all content and online gaming without charging anything.
If Sony did start charging PS3 owners for certain aspects of the PS3 online experience, the following would probably occur:
1. PS3 Owners would complain, and who wouldn’t complain about being charged for something that has been free all this time.
2. Microsoft would probably come out and discount Xbox Live Gold access for a period of time to sway potential PS3/360 purchasers to the 360.
3. Sony would probably come out and say that PSN service is better than Xbox Live and with HOME provides users with endless hours of entertainment which can not be accessed for such a small price as they are now introducing.
When you actually look at the big picture of the online services that Sony and Microsoft provide PS3 and 360 owners, the price that Microsoft charges at the moment is a fairly nominal fee for what the millions of members get, especially in America. Sony not charging for the PSN service made commercial sense to start with as the price of the PS3 was rather high and the PSN was nowhere near the standard of Xbox Live. Now though, with last nights announcement of the PS3 price drop and their announcement of the new look and new features coming to the PSN, is it the right time for Sony to start charging a small fee for a so called “Premium” access which in turn may enable them to put more resources into it and make it even better? After all, shouldn’t we as gamers want the best service that Microsoft and Sony can provide, even if that means paying fairly small fees?
Article by Craig Cirillo