Sony’s PlayStation Network could be joining its rival Xbox Live with a subscription revenue model – but only for “premium content,” says Sony boss Kaz Hirai.

One of the advantages frequently pointed out by PS3 fan(boy)s is that Sony’s PSN is free, whereas Microsoft’s Xbox Live Gold requires a subscription fee. When some sharp-eyed folks noticed that Slide 39 in this Sony presentation at a “Media/Investor Conference” labled one of the PSN’s strengths as a “new revenue stream from subscription,” predictably, some Sony fans reacted as though the sky was falling – how could wonderful Sony turn their backs on us devotees?

Not to worry, says Mr. Ridge Racer Kaz Hirai. Yes, the media giant is looking at adding subscriptions to PSN, but only for new forms of content – in other words, Kaz is saying that you’ll be still be able to play online for free:

“SCE will further increase sales by offering users new entertainment through the combination of hardware, software, peripheral and PlayStation Network … [e]specially in the online area, we are studying the possibility of introducing a subscription model, offering premium content and services, in addition to the current free services.”

Of course, now the question becomes, “What, exactly, does ‘premium content and services’ entail?” Let’s take Sony at face value for now and assume that nothing will be removed from the current PSN, everything included with the subscription will all be additional. What would Sony have up its sleeve to make it worth the fee? Extra demos? Exclusive skins and artwork? Download speeds that don’t suck?


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