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First Details Emerge of Premium PSN


Robo_1
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That's not really a good counter-argument at all though, given how XBL came about and evolved.

You're going to have to explain the relevance of that to me.

I think it's a fair counter-argument. Sony making group voice chat paid only would be a bit of a disappointing move for many, but ultimately Microsoft are locking away content consumers have paid for unless they pay 5 quid a month, whereas Sony aren't. Now don't get me wrong, I pay the LIVE fee and never really think anything of it so it doesn't really bother me. But when you have increasing numbers of games that are heavily online focussed, it is starting to seem a bit unfair imo. Take something like Left 4 Dead 2. You pay 40 quid for the game, and out of the box the only thing that will work on a silver account is a shitty single player mode. For all the good stuff you're being forced to pay a subscription. Not getting much for your 40 quid there are you? Now L4D2 isn't even available on PS3, but what about something like Modern Warfare 2? I've no interest in the game but from what I gather, multiplayer is where it's at. For the price of the game PS3 owners get to experience everything on the disc. 360 owners get the single player.

Regardless of the origins of the service or the way it evolved, the locking away of content is getting to harder to justify in my opinion. What Sony seems to be proposing is a system where everyone gets all the content on the disc they paid for, but people can get premium features for a fee, which seems fair enough. It's mightily hypocritical for people to be slagging this off when you compare it to MS's position, and that's even before we get to Microsoft forcing developers like Valve to charge for DLC and only allowing free DLC if it's free on PSN as well and numerous other shitty moves.

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You're going to have to explain the relevance of that to me.

I think it's a fair counter-argument.

I don't think it's a very good counter-argument because the online-subscription model started before the 360, with some amount of success. Sony had (with the PS2) a free service then too, so what is your point? That MS should drop the fee just because the PS3 (like the PS2) had a free service? If it didn't stop them charging then, it won't now. The Xbox experiment clearly gave MS enough belief that people will pay for online. And then - like now - they *did* have some alternative.

Also, why haven't Sony included cross-game chat so far (despite it being repeatedly called-for)? I'm not cynical enough to suggest it was always held-back so it could be charged-for at some point, but the fact it still isn't around (and cross-game invites haven't been in for *that* long) gives Live (currently) something to differentiate itself. Whether or not the fee justifies that is up to the individual, ultimately.

Edit:

And just to (briefly) address your 'it's unfair' comment, I don't agree with that either.

Sure, if you never knew anything about the 360 and Live and bought one over a PS3, then you could argue that it was unfair to purchase something and then find out you need to pay to access bits - but then you should do your homework before buying into the brand. Or read the back of the box where it says a paid-for sub is required to play online. But it's not as if you'd been tricked into buying it.

Likewise, if you did know about Live and still bought a 360 over a PS3, then I don't really see any issue there at all - you obviously made the decision to buy in spite of that perceived handicap.

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You do realise that Xbox Live has more regular users than PSN right? Hardly a niche.

If you count Silver users.

http://kotaku.com/341399/xbox-live-10-mill...old-subscribers - stating 10 million out of 17 million (ok early adopters) as of mid last year: and majority on the console.

That's $40 million of revenue into Microsoft and retailer coffers.

If you assume every subscriber is paying the full price for a 12-month subscription (which they aren't) "$40m" (before tax and revenue sharing) would come nowhere near to the annual cost of running the service worldwide, let alone the $100m's it has cost to develop.

Nor has any first-hand source ever been produced for that 2008 Kotaku piece (a whole year later, all MS would officially say was "the majority out of 17m users") although perhaps they've reached 10m by now.

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If you count Silver users.

If you assume every subscriber is paying the full price for a 12-month subscription (which they aren't) "$40m" (before tax and revenue sharing) would come nowhere near to the annual cost of running the service worldwide, let alone the $100m's it has cost to develop.

Nor has any first-hand source ever been produced for that 2008 Kotaku piece (a whole year later, all MS would officially say was "the majority out of 17m users") although perhaps they've reached 10m by now.

I very deliberately made it clear that $ weren't all going to Microsoft. And I bizarrely prefer a "majority out of 17m users" to your stated "minority" for some reason - perhaps because even you acknowledge there's a source there.

The rest of your post is irrelevant distractive fluff. How do you know how much Live has cost to develop or run (no dedicated servers)? At least my $40 million figure could be easily traced to something (average cost of a discount sub in the UK ~ £30 * lower than normal conversion factor to dollars).

What's the revenue incentive for Microsoft to have a better multiplayer service, and hence sell more third party heavily multiplayer games on their platform than they perhaps would otherwise? And so on.

Oh - and hands up everyone who's got multiple PSN accounts on their PS3?

I've got four...

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If you assume every subscriber is paying the full price for a 12-month subscription (which they aren't) "$40m" (before tax and revenue sharing) would come nowhere near to the annual cost of running the service worldwide, let alone the $100m's it has cost to develop.

There are £5 a month, and £15 a quarter subscription options. They work out more expensive in the long run, so it probably balances out.

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I don't think it's a very good counter-argument because the online-subscription model started before the 360, with some amount of success. Sony had (with the PS2) a free service then too, so what is your point? That MS should drop the fee just because the PS3 (like the PS2) had a free service? If it didn't stop them charging then, it won't now. The Xbox experiment clearly gave MS enough belief that people will pay for online. And then - like now - they *did* have some alternative.

Ah, but that's taking the original comment somewhat out of context. Somebody said that because MS offered free cross game chat, it was poor show for Sony to start charging for it with the new PSN. Majora then responded by essentially saying that the same could could be said of MS for charging for online play, when Sony offer a free alternative. They were both glib remarks which nicely cancelled each other out.

Both of those comments were contained more in the context of a spec for spec comparison of the services as they stand today. What you're saying is that MS shouldn't feel obliged to follow Sony's move, because they were charging for Live from the beginning, and have done pretty well out of it. Now I agree with this - from a business perspective - but as I said earlier in the thread, I don't see why what's good for MS's pocket, should have any bearing on comparing Live and PSN as they stand today.

On a purely spec for spec comparison, it is unfair to say that Sony are being malevolent for charging a fee for cross game chat, whilst letting MS off the hook for charging for online gaming, something which is a far more fundamental feature of games today.

And just to (briefly) address your 'it's unfair' comment, I don't agree with that either.

Sure, if you never knew anything about the 360 and Live and bought one over a PS3, then you could argue that it was unfair to purchase something and then find out you need to pay to access bits - but then you should do your homework before buying into the brand. Or read the back of the box where it says a paid-for sub is required to play online. But it's not as if you'd been tricked into buying it.

Likewise, if you did know about Live and still bought a 360 over a PS3, then I don't really see any issue there at all - you obviously made the decision to buy in spite of that perceived handicap.

Again, I agree with much of what you're saying, but I think it's an argument with many shades of grey.

Going to the letter of law, you're right to say that if people are buying a 360 game and expecting online play, they should research what that entails, and not just buy and forget. However there's a flip side to that argument - is it reasonable to expect that a game worth 40 pounds should be sold in a state where a large part of it's content is dependent on a additional subscription, and if it is, is a small warning at the foot of the back sleeve sufficient enough, given just how much content can be locked away? Should a more detailed explanation about what Silver users won't get access to be included on the back of the box, because often these features can go beyond just online play.

Somebody was posting recently (could have been Sigourney Beaver come to think of it), about how they had recently purchased Forza 3, and were genuinely surprised and disappointed at the volume of content Silver users were locked out of. I can't remember details, but it does strike me that if a regular poster on a gaming forum is taken aback by how much of a game is locked out to non-Gold users, then it must be a regular occurrence amongst more casual players.

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The best comparison i can think of is Perfect Dark. Which despite locking away most of the content unless you had the ram expansion, at least went into detail abut it on the box with a nice little table showing what worked with and without the ram pack. However in that case I would suggest they were pretty much forced too as it was additional hardware that was the factor. I don't see Microsoft having tables on the back of their games telling people they can only play 50% or whatever of the content without a paid sub. They only do it for online only games (of which there aren't many) out of necessity.

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Ah, but that's taking the original comment somewhat out of context. Somebody said that because MS offered free cross game chat, it was poor show for Sony to start charging for it with the new PSN. Majora then responded by essentially saying that the same could could be said of MS for charging for online play, when Sony offer a free alternative. They were both glib remarks which nicely cancelled each other out.

Both of those comments were contained more in the context of a spec for spec comparison of the services as they stand today. What you're saying is that MS shouldn't feel obliged to follow Sony's move, because they were charging for Live from the beginning, and have done pretty well out of it. Now I agree with this - from a business perspective - but as I said earlier in the thread, I don't see why what's good for MS's pocket, should have any bearing on comparing Live and PSN as they stand today.

On a purely spec for spec comparison, it is unfair to say that Sony are being malevolent for charging a fee for cross game chat, whilst letting MS off the hook for charging for online gaming, something which is a far more fundamental feature of games today.

Sorry, I must have missed the first bit about a spec-for-spec comparison, and just looked at that comment in isolation, so apologies for the tangent. That said, I do think that the argument that MS shouldn't charge for online because it is free on the PSN is moot because MS had the chance to offer a free service with the Xbox, and chose not to, so it was unlikely they would with the 360. Out of interest, when did Sony announce the PSN would be free to play? I don't recall.

It'll be interesting to see how this pans-out, though. I do think that unless Sony play it very, *very* well, then they will suffer a lot of negative press from this. It makes me think of how first and second-class travel came about on the trains (back in days of yore); originally everybody had the same carriages, but in order to squeeze more money out of those that could afford it, second (and even third) classes were introduced. But instead of adding things to first-class to make it a premium service, they just kept it the same and stripped-out things and renamed it. That's how I see this situation with Sony (potentially) charging from stuff.

Yes, MS have also stripped-out services from Silver to make Gold seem more desirable (which is - let's face it - shit), but because they have always charged *something* these things seem to pass without too much fuss.

As I say, Sony need to play it well, because where MS has always crowed-about why you should get a Gold-sub (and can point to online-play as the main feature), Sony now need to try and say why folk should go from a free-service to paying for some extra bits (which may or may not be significant) when - if online play is their only aim - what is the big-sell? And if voice-chat is the main feature, MS can hit-back with providing a fuller-service for online-play, rather than a bit of a bodge-job from Sony.

Interesting times ahead.

Again, I agree with much of what you're saying, but I think it's an argument with many shades of grey.

Going to the letter of law, you're right to say that if people are buying a 360 game and expecting online play, they should research what that entails, and not just buy and forget. However there's a flip side to that argument - is it reasonable to expect that a game worth 40 pounds should be sold in a state where a large part of it's content is dependent on a additional subscription, and if it is, is a small warning at the foot of the back sleeve sufficient enough, given just how much content can be locked away? Should a more detailed explanation about what Silver users won't get access to be included on the back of the box, because often these features can go beyond just online play.

Somebody was posting recently (could have been Sigourney Beaver come to think of it), about how they had recently purchased Forza 3, and were genuinely surprised and disappointed at the volume of content Silver users were locked out of. I can't remember details, but it does strike me that if a regular poster on a gaming forum is taken aback by how much of a game is locked out to non-Gold users, then it must be a regular occurrence amongst more casual players.

Yeah, I actually agree with you that it isn't black-and-white. I'm still not sure about the idea of stuff being locked-out though; purely based on my own conjecture, the 360 demigraphic is regarded as being quite 'hardcore', and so for those people there is a good chance that they already have Gold-subs and so it isn't an issue. You say the situation above must be a regular-occurence for more casual players (and it may well be), but you could argue that these are not the people that would base a purchase on whether they could play online or not anyway and so wouldn't be bothered, and not feel that things are 'locked-out'.

I agree that what you miss by only having a Silver account should be more prominent though, and I accept that there probably are people that feel they are only getting part of the content, but I don't really expect a business to be generous with how crippled Silver is (sadly) - and whether those such people are a significant number or not we'll never know I guess.

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Your argument is confused. What are you proposing that Sony "should have" offered as a premium service? They offer online play for free.

But you claimed that XBL Gold was a "niche". Yet, MW2 sold more on Xbox 360 than PS3 suggesting that an XBL really isn't a barrier to people who intend to play online. We can just agree to disagree.

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If you assume every subscriber is paying the full price for a 12-month subscription (which they aren't) "$40m" (before tax and revenue sharing) would come nowhere near to the annual cost of running the service worldwide, let alone the $100m's it has cost to develop.

Do we know how much it costs MS to run the online mutliplayer stuff annually? Obviously there's a service there that needs updating and managing but the bulk of that operation is peer-to-peer and shouldn't cost that much, you'd think.

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For those wondering, here's the descriptions for the various features:

Customer Service Priority Access

Priority access to PlayStation's customer service both online and via phone should you need technical help or have questions about your products. This feature gives you support with little to no waiting.

Exclusive Experiences with Sony Brands

Get member-only access to attend exclusive Sony events and experiences throughout the year, including those offered by PlayStation, Sony Pictures, and Sony Music.

Extended Console Warranty 3 Years

Get your PS3 warranty extended to 3 years as part of your overall subscription (requires you to keep your subscription active). The standard warranty on your PS3 is 1 year.

Access to Beta Games

Get access to Betas of popular games not yet released at retail (Betas offer bigger experiences than typical game demos). You will have the ability to play these games before others do.

Early Access to All Store Content

Get early access to select free and purchasable game related content on the PlayStation Store before it's available to everyone else. This includes games, add-ons, themes, avatars, as well as free game demos.

Member Demo Sharing of Full Game

Share a level of a game that you just purchased for your PS3 with a subscriber who doesn't own the game. Your friends could do the same. This would be an exclusive demo not available otherwise to those who haven't purchased the game.

Cross-game Voice Chat Access

Get exclusive member-only access to cross-game voice chat. This is the ability to use your headset to voice chat with friends on your PS3 regardless of what they are doing on the PS3.

Full Title Trial - 1st Hour Is Free

Download full versions of select Blu-ray and PSN game titles and have the chance to play the entire game (single or multiplayer) for free for the first hour. After that time you will have the option of purchasing the game to continue playing.

Token Wagering

Get a fixed number of tokens per month you can wager with other players in competitive online games. These tokens could then be built up and redeemed for free PlayStation Network games and other content.

User-to-user Challenges

Unlock developer-created challenges while playing games. Compete with your friends to see who can be the first to complete these challenges. The PS3 will automatically offer and track challenges and winners and would post results. An example of a challenge is 'first to get 10 trophies' in a particular game.

Free Access to PSOne Classics, PSP Minis, and PS3/PSP Themes

Get a fixed number of PSOne Classic games, PSP Minis (bite-sized games), and PS3/PSP themes per month to keep for free for as long as you are a subscriber. The PlayStation Store offers these types of content for $2-6 each.

Discounts on Store Content

Get weekly member-exclusive discounts on specific games, game add-ons and themes on the PlayStation Store. Discounts may range from 20-50% off regular retail prices.

Member Only In-game Content

Get exclusive member-only in-game content for your PS3 or PSP such as new game play options, unlocked in-game weapons or player slots, exclusive levels, costumes/skins, and PlayStation Home spaces.

Trophy Alerts

Get automated alerts on your PlayStation XrossMedia Bar, PlayStation.com, and via text message (if you so choose) that alert you when your friends get any trophy or a specific one. This feature is customizable - you can choose which friends to receive alerts from and what kinds of alerts.

Cloud Storage Space for Games

Store your game saves on a virtual secure saver. This would allow you to access your game saves at any point in time, and from any PlayStation 3 or PSP console you are logged in on.

Online Music Service

Get a streaming music service that allows you to choose your channel based on music style, artist type, etc. and listen to an unlimited number of tracks. This service would be for use outside of playing a game and similar to Pandora or a Last.fm.

Online Music Video Service

Get a streaming music video service on your PlayStation 3 that lets you stream music videos from a continuously growing catalog of music and allows you to create a custom playlist to play back.

Automatic Downloads and Updates

Customize the types of updates you want your PS3 to download automatically. These include game updates (patches) for games that you own, firmware updates, and game demos downloaded on your PS3 without manually having to select them and wait for them to finish downloading. Your PS3 can be set to automatically turn on for updates and turn off after completion.

Loyalty Program Rewards

Get rewards the longer you are a subscriber and also earn rewards by engaging with PlayStation such as buying games, downloading movies, and rating products. Rewards can include full versions of PlayStation Network games and digital movie rentals from the PlayStation Store.

Facebook Connectivity

Access to member-exclusive Facebook features on your PlayStation 3, such as viewing and linking your Facebook accounts with their PSN ID's, updating your status, editing, uploading and sharing photos, and viewing photo albums of your friends on your TV.

Catch-up TV

Get access to popular TV shows and movies through service providers such as Hulu, simply by clicking an icon on your PS3 XrossMedia navigation bar.

Netflix Access Without Disc

Access the Netflix video streaming service on your PS3 without the need to insert a special disc into the drive each time to access the service. A separate Netflix subscription would also be needed to enjoy the service. Netflix offers over 17000 popular movies and TV shows for streaming on your laptop or a supported device such as a PS3.

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Automatic Downloads and Updates

Customize the types of updates you want your PS3 to download automatically. These include game updates (patches) for games that you own, firmware updates, and game demos downloaded on your PS3 without manually having to select them and wait for them to finish downloading. Your PS3 can be set to automatically turn on for updates and turn off after completion.

This wants to be a bloody standard free feature not something you pay extra for!

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This wants to be a bloody standard free feature not something you pay extra for!

Indeed, that seems like a rather barrel scraper of an extra to include.

There's some cool stuff in there no doubt, in-particular the token wagering and user challenges, but it's depressing to see that they'll be following Microsoft's shitty example of giving paying members early access to demos. Makes every sense in the world to the bean counters, but I can see it starting Sony on a rocky road of gimping the standard service - ala Silver.

The extra game content and exclusive DLC leaves a similarly bitter taste in the mouth. I don't like the idea of having to subscribe just to get the most out of games I've already paid for.

I suppose what it comes down to, is that if the service isn't compelling enough, it's simply not going to attract enough subscribers. Online play is clearly going to be the biggest pull of any online service, so I suppose Sony are looking for every possible feature they can leverage to encourage subscribers.

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They already do this with their 'Qore' thing, don't they? In the US, at least.

It's on a far, far more limited basis. I think once in a blue moon they get a demo or beta in advance, but that's really about the extent of it. It's certainly nowhere near the disparity between Silver and Gold delays.

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But you claimed that XBL Gold was a "niche". Yet, MW2 sold more on Xbox 360 than PS3 suggesting that an XBL really isn't a barrier to people who intend to play online. We can just agree to disagree.

There are more 360s out there, and more people who consider it the 'home' machine for FPS.

The fact that the PS3 version has sold millions likewise suggests that your insinuated shortcomings of PSN aren't a barrier either.

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