Sony PlayStation to Offer Paid Subscription Service
Several sources indicate that Sony will be announcing a paid subscription version of its PlayStation Network at the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) next month.
So far hints of what Sony has to announce at E3 have been scarce, making many wonder if the company will be having a quiet presence at a show all about making the most noise. But this expected new approach, a scenario assembled from several sources for the gaming website Joystiq, would make Sony's PlayStation Network (PSN) more marketable against Microsoft's Xbox Live online community for the Xbox 360.
The new subscription service will be called PSN+, and will offer "additional bonuses without limiting online multiplayer between paying and nonpaying users," according to Joystiq. These bonuses include exclusive in-game downloadable content, discounts at the PlayStation Store, access to a number of PSP Minis and original PlayStation games and "first hour" demo access. The demo access is a way to get games faster. After playing an hour of a game demo, PSN+ subscribers can opt to purchase the full game immediately.
PSN+ is also expected to include cross-game voice chat, something that has been available to Xbox Live but not PSN.
Other bonuses are less related to gameplay and more focused on console reliability. PSN+ subscribers will receive the PlayStation Protection Plan, a sort of extended warranty, as well as an auto-patching feature that will search for game patches, download them and install them for games on the PS3 .
While the list of features for this as-yet-unofficial service are fairly detailed, the pricing remains a mystery. One source speculates that $10 per month will likely be the subscription fee, although that is much more expensive than Xbox Live Gold membership, which can easily be found at less than $50 for a year-long subscription.
It's possible Sony will have deals available for year-long subscriptions too. And that would make sense given that these extra PSN+ features may not enough to make PS3 owners pay more than twice what Xbox gamers pay for a community subscription.