Sony: Keeping PSN Free on PS4 Would Have Been Too "Hard"

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Sony: Keeping PSN Free on PS4 Would Have Been Too "Hard"

PlayStation 4 and controller

Sony believes the value of a PS Plus membership will outweigh the extra cost gamers will need to pay to play online with the PS4.

Since pretty much the day of the PS3's launch, the PlayStation Network has generally been considered inferior to Microsoft's Xbox Live in terms of features. Even seven years later, this tends to remain the case. That said, there has always been one area where the PSN has arguably trumped Xbox Live: price. Whereas doing pretty much anything online on the Xbox 360 requires a paid Gold subscription, the PS3's online functionality doesn't cost a cent. While Sony would eventually introduce paid PlayStation Plus memberships, these were optional and merely granted subscribers perks like free games and cloud based game saves

With the impending launch of the PS4 however, the current status quo will become a thing of the past. Online play on the PS4 will require a PS Plus membership, adding a new cost for PlayStation gamers to absorb going into the next console generation. While there are likely some who see this as unfortunate, Sony would insist that it was time for things to change. "There's a ton of value in the network. We've built up the network over the years and made a significant investment... and it's quite honestly hard to keep everything [free]," said Eric Lempel, vice president of Sony Network Entertainment.

That said, Lempel believes that bonuses of a PS Plus membership outweigh the extra cost. "The investment in Plus gives the user a ton of value, so putting multiplayer in there will continue to help us build the network up for our users," he said. Lempel was also quick to point out that while the PS4's online multiplayer will be tied to PlayStation Plus, the console's third party apps won't be similarly restricted to subscribers. "We kept everything else free to the user. So for example, we've got 11 partner apps right off the bat," he said. "This is something [Microsoft] isn't doing." Whether or not that will be enough to placate fans used to free online is something we'll have to wait and see.

Source: Games Industry International

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To put this article simply, Sony wants to charge for a once free feature solely out of greed but they don't want to admit it to everybody because it would show what Sony really thinks of their customers: as nothing more than gullible walking wallets.

I doubt that I will be bothering with a Plus membership if I get a PS4 because I almost never use online multiplayer. I occasionally use it for Resident Evil 6 and Pokemon but thats it. At the end of the day online multiplayer just isn't enough of a draw for me to use it unless I have a friend I want to play a specific game with so it doesn't strike me as something that I would pay for.

It's great that PS Plus gives away free games as part of the membership, but it still divides the user base.

There are a lot of people who bought a PS3(that I know of) because PSN was free, and now that has gone away, which is a bit troublesome, especially to the target market of consoles, ie, people who dont have the money or dont want to invest into a gaming pc.

Subscriptions always annoy me because of the divide they create of either subscribed/not subscribed, and besides, Steam still allows for free multiplayer, on what is supposedly a less popular market, yet the developers still manage to keep the servers running without secondary subscription fees.

It is nice that they are at least giving away PS Plus gift cards with every new PS4, so whilst I still dislike this, at least Sony are trying.

It is very difficult for Valve too. Plus all those tiny indie studios on PC who offer multiplayer. Very difficult indeed. They're all bleeding cash for online play. It's a small wonder Valve even finds the money to keep their gas and electric turned on. I totally understand a multi-billion dollar company needing to charge for their online play, i really do. It's not like they get revenue from every game sold on their system or anything...

Ah well 'free online play' for SteamOS is another boon, as if they needed one, for the steam box as a competitor to the console space.

TheComfyChair:
It is very difficult for Valve too. Plus all those tiny indie studios on PC who offer multiplayer. Very difficult indeed. They're all bleeding cash for online play. It's a small wonder Valve even finds the money to keep their gas and electric turned on.

Ah well 'free online play' for SteamOS is another boon, as if they needed one, for the steam box as a competitor to the console space.

This.

Steam sends out PETABYTES of worth of games around the world. I mean, look at this map. They even cover parts of Africa.

http://store.steampowered.com/stats/content/

How can steam afford this and Sony can't? Oh right because they need money to pay off the huge costs of a console. Using a business method that is disconnected to the modern world and modern financing.

Seriously, PSN has no more value than a humble bundle. In fact, it has less.

I'll believe their arguments when they allow for direct IP connection options for games and other apps.

I'm already paying for an internet connection, and direct IP connections are a basic feature of any internet-capable framework, so there is no valid excuse to remove said capabilities.

If they (and I'm not restricting this opinion to Sony, but rather to any and all online service providers) want to add extra value for a fee, no problem, but locking out the basics to force me into said premium service is unacceptable.

Akichi Daikashima:
It is nice that they are at least giving away PS Plus gift cards with every new PS4, so whilst I still dislike this, at least Sony are trying.

You wouldn't say that if you knew marketing, every smart crack dealer knows to give the first hit for free then people know what they are missing, then they crave it, and in the grand scheme of things Sony will make far more money on jonesing customers then lose giving "gifts".

What this boils down to is their competition isn't doing anything for free so now they don't have to either.

ive always felt comfortable with the split they did on the ps3 of plus and non plus services, making plus the bare minimum to play online to me strikes more of greed then costs in expanding or needing to keep the services running. its not a Plus if its Required, its why i liked my ps3 so much, and why im likely not gonna be getting a ps4 for a long time

Seriously people, it's like $4 a month. Plus you actually get GOOD free games (like Saint's Row 3) not only on the PS3/4 but also for the Vita. Quit bitching.

TheComfyChair:
It is very difficult for Valve too. Plus all those tiny indie studios on PC who offer multiplayer. Very difficult indeed. They're all bleeding cash for online play. It's a small wonder Valve even finds the money to keep their gas and electric turned on. I totally understand a multi-billion dollar company needing to charge for their online play, i really do. It's not like they get revenue from every game sold on their system or anything...

Ah well 'free online play' for SteamOS is another boon, as if they needed one, for the steam box as a competitor to the console space.

It is, if you don't mind wasting a lot of money. If a person has a gaming PC already + some small crappy laptop do this:

1.) Install SteamOS on Laptop
2.) Stream Games from Gaming PC
3.) DON'T WASTE MONEY

Steambox is just a waste of money for anyone who already owns a gaming PC. I don't know why people are trying to defend it.

superline51:
Seriously people, it's like $4 a month. Plus you actually get GOOD free games (like Saint's Row 3) not only on the PS3/4 but also for the Vita. Quit bitching.

But! But! PC MASTER RACE?!

I am in the same boat as you. I don't see it as a big deal. Plus considering it is already cheaper than Xbox Live and the free games are nice.

Mr.K.:

Akichi Daikashima:
It is nice that they are at least giving away PS Plus gift cards with every new PS4, so whilst I still dislike this, at least Sony are trying.

You wouldn't say that if you knew marketing, every smart crack dealer knows to give the first hit for free then people know what they are missing, then they crave it, and in the grand scheme of things Sony will make far more money on jonesing customers then lose giving "gifts".

What this boils down to is their competition isn't doing anything for free so now they don't have to either.

"At least"

Subscriptions are still BS to me.

But this wouldn't be a problem if PC Gaming was a juggernaut market, because then Sony would immediately pack that shit in, as no such BS exists on Steam.

I call bull. It's not "too hard" to make something free.

I thought $60.00 should've gone to the cost of the entire product. Including multiplayer of the game. It's not our fault every game has to shove the feature in there for the sake of a selling point.

$4.17 a month (or $0.14 a day) doesn't seem that bad for online multiplayer, especially since you get 5+ games a month out of it spread across 3 systems. It's not just ancient or bad games either, just in the last 4 months I've got Uncharted 3, Battlefield 3, XCOM, Hitman: Absolution, Saint's Row 3, Kingdom's of Amalur plus a ton of Vita, PSP, indie games. That doesn't even include the sales...

And if online multiplayer or free games isn't your bag, then that's fine, you can still use all of the media apps for no more than your subscription to those services. I don't see a problem with what Sony is doing.

superline51:
Seriously people, it's like $4 a month. Plus you actually get GOOD free games (like Saint's Row 3) not only on the PS3/4 but also for the Vita. Quit bitching.

I don't care. That's what we pay internet for. That's what I payed $60.00 for the game for.

I'm not going to dish out $4.00 a year for something that was free last year.

Akichi Daikashima:

It is nice that they are at least giving away PS Plus gift cards with every new PS4, so whilst I still dislike this, at least Sony are trying.

That's just to get you hooked.

There is literally no explanation for where this money is actually going or how it makes online play any better, any chance you could manage a straight answer instead of simply telling us that "it's definitely better than XBone". How about comparing the PS4 to PC? Got any compelling benefits that this subscription provides?

That said I've been a plus member for a year and a half now and I've got to admit it is ridiculously good value just for the huge number of good games you get over the course of a year for your money. I still disapprove of Sony getting money from every gamer who wants to play online unless Sony will be improving said online system substantially enough to justify the cost to said gamers but at least Plus is a decent service.

immortalfrieza:
To put this article simply, Sony wants to charge for a once free feature solely out of greed but they don't want to admit it to everybody because it would show what Sony really thinks of their customers: as nothing more than gullible walking wallets.

Or that running thousands of cloud servers has a stupidly high maintenance cost that was slowly bleeding half their profits away. As someone in the Cloud-Tech field I'm amazed they managed to survive at all doing it for free this long.

Fortunately I never play online, so this change doesn't effect me. I'm glad they still understand that charging me to use a service like Netflix that I already pay for is silly, just like every other hardware company that has the same apps, except for Microsoft.

Battenberg:
There is literally no explanation for where this money is actually going or how it makes online play any better, any chance you could manage a straight answer instead of simply telling us that "it's definitely better than XBone". How about comparing the PS4 to PC? Got any compelling benefits that this subscription provides?

That said I've been a plus member for a year and a half now and I've got to admit it is ridiculously good value just for the huge number of good games you get over the course of a year for your money. I still disapprove of Sony getting money from every gamer who wants to play online unless Sony will be improving said online system substantially enough to justify the cost to said gamers but at least Plus is a decent service.

They've made improvements to how multiplayer works. It's much closer to what we saw with XBL last gen, with features like being able to jump directly into a buddies multiplayer match, and joining matchmaking with a premade party of people. They have also finally added a party voice chat for up to 8 people, so I can communicate with my crew of gamer friends during a match without being screamed at by an uppity 12 year old. On top of those changes you get your regular PS Plus benefits, which I was going to keep paying for anyways. Those reasons may not be enough for some people to justify paying for the service but I'm ok with it.

Also, free to play games (Planetside 2, Warframe, Blacklight: Retribution) and their multiplayer aren't locked behind PS PLUS, and neither are any streaming services you may already pay for.

If Microsoft were smart, they'd announce Thursday afternoon that LIVE is dropping to, I dunno, $20 a year or something. Of course that won't happen because, well, birds fly, fish swim, Microsoft doesn't capitalize on opportunities in the gaming space with any level of efficiency, etc etc.

Church185:

They've made improvements to how multiplayer works. It's much closer to what we saw with XBL last gen, with features like being able to jump directly into a buddies multiplayer match, and joining matchmaking with a premade party of people. They have also finally added a party voice chat for up to 8 people, so I can communicate with my crew of gamer friends during a match without being screamed at by an uppity 12 year old. On top of those changes you get your regular PS Plus benefits, which I was going to keep paying for anyways. Those reasons may not be enough for some people to justify paying for the service but I'm ok with it.

Also, free to play games (Planetside 2, Warframe, Blacklight: Retribution) and their multiplayer aren't locked behind PS PLUS, and neither are any streaming services you may already pay for.

Do you work for Sony? (I'm only half joking, this sounds more like a press release than anything else)

The improvements to mp seem minimalistic at best, I don't find it particularly difficult to join friends games or make parties within games so that's a non issue as far as I'm concerned. The only slight improvement is the new new voice chat system but I would argue that that is something they should have had since the PS3 and not a good enough reason for these new costs.

That bit at the end seems to be Sony's entire argument - "we're shafting you but at least we're not shafting you so hard you'll never walk again (like Microsoft)". Not charging to be able to use the PS4 for Netflix (for example) should be a given and presenting it as some kind of luxury only makes me suspicious and irritable about Sony's intentions for the future. It's an argument that does not make plus sound any better and is clearly only meant to make alternatives sound worse.

Like I said Plus is a good service and I have no issue with it as it stands for the PS3 and if I ever get a PS4 I will most certainly maintain my plus subscription but this annual fee for multiplayer just doesn't seem right to me. The PS4 should last about 10 years give or take, if you buy a console at launch and get plus purely because you want multiplayer and none of its other features you will essentially end up paying double for your console over those 10 years. It just strikes me as a money grab, with Sony realising that the 360 got by despite people not being happy about this system and assuming that means they should also be doing this.

superline51:
Seriously people, it's like $4 a month. Plus you actually get GOOD free games (like Saint's Row 3) not only on the PS3/4 but also for the Vita. Quit bitching.

So long as they keep up the other PS+ benefits at the same level I'm not sure I'll care about needing it for multiplayer (though I'm surprised that they couldn't go for a compromise solution, like keeping free multiplayer but giving PS+ users queue priority in mathcmaking or something.

Someone compared the benefits to a Humble Bundle, but the "free games" part is like having every humble bundle, except you lose them if you stop subscribing and the games are higher-dollar items. They also offer discounted items, except you don't lose those if you drop PS+.

Really, how good of a deal PS+ is comes down to how much you've doubled-down on Sony for consoles/handhelds. I do wish they'd just release a damned general-purpose PS2 emulator for people who have the old discs laying around. I mean PS1/PS2 Classics are just ISOs wrapped in an emulator with some extra QC and a digital manual -- just like Virtual Console games; it wouldn't be that hard to just offer the damned emulator (with a clear warning that compatibility is limited), and the PS4 is certainly more than powerful enough for it.

The primary issue people are complaining about with subscriptions, especially to services like PSN, is that they have to deal with a lack of transparency. With front end purchases, even expensive ones like new games and video game consoles, no one cares as much about where the money goes as it is a one time commitment. In addition, the person knows they are going to get some kind of use out of the item they directly purchased as they currently have interest in the item.

With subscriptions, someone is making a commitment on a repeated basis whether they are using the service being subscribed to or not. Thus, it helps to know that the money being paid to the company is at least going to the right places. As consumers we really don't know how much is actually going towards paying for maintenance and how much is going to employee pockets. To even make something that could provide that information in an easy to digest way would require the cooperation of the organization in question and the funds to pay someone to create the software needed. =(

Battenberg:
Do you work for Sony? (I'm only half joking, this sounds more like a press release than anything else)

I don't, just kind of itching for Friday. *eye twitch* (seriously though, go to my profile and check my 360 gamerscore, I'm kind of jumping ship next gen)

The improvements to mp seem minimalistic at best, I don't find it particularly difficult to join friends games or make parties within games so that's a non issue as far as I'm concerned. The only slight improvement is the new new voice chat system but I would argue that that is something they should have had since the PS3 and not a good enough reason for these new costs.

That bit at the end seems to be Sony's entire argument - "we're shafting you but at least we're not shafting you so hard you'll never walk again (like Microsoft)". Not charging to be able to use the PS4 for Netflix (for example) should be a given and presenting it as some kind of luxury only makes me suspicious and irritable about Sony's intentions for the future. It's an argument that does not make plus sound any better and is clearly only meant to make alternatives sound worse.

Like I said Plus is a good service and I have no issue with it as it stands for the PS3 and if I ever get a PS4 I will most certainly maintain my plus subscription but this annual fee for multiplayer just doesn't seem right to me. The PS4 should last about 10 years give or take, if you buy a console at launch and get plus purely because you want multiplayer and none of its other features you will essentially end up paying double for your console over those 10 years. It just strikes me as a money grab, with Sony realising that the 360 got by despite people not being happy about this system and assuming that means they should also be doing this.

Which is fine, like I said above not everyone is going to be happy. For you and me specifically though, nothing will change, other than gaining a few features the 360 already had last gen. I'm still going to be paying for plus because holy crap mountain of games, while Sony moves benefits around in the background that I won't be losing access to. As soon as they stop giving me quality titles, I'll probably drop the subscription and use PS4 exclusively for single player games and FFXIV:ARR. If Gaikai comes out (please don't be shit) and is tied to a plus subscription, I'll probably pay them until the end of time. That last part is just wishful thinking though.

I don't see the issue here. People complained that PSN was inferior to Xbox live, but since PSN was free, of course that was going to happen. The income they make will allow them to improve the service. It will also be an incentive for them to be competitive. Not to mention the numerous FREE titles that are released to members. Relatively new ones I'll add.

I don't play multiplayer, so it doesn't matter much to me. I'll still be purchasing my PS4 several months after the launch.

It's about change.

Why is this service suddenly "too hard" after it's been not too hard for years? Why should it cost money to see my friends online when it never did before? Why do I pay for internet, and a system, and the games that feature multiplayer AND multiplayer? This is all suddenly "too hard" when it's never been "too hard" before?

That and the plus card is now a basics card. we'll give you some 11 pluses if you don't have it. That's a bit ironic. It's not the numbers people are tossing about, be it 1, or 4, or 20, or 3,000$; it's the change of it all.

We saw loads of examples of this when everyone tried to be WoW in gaming with subscriptions. In fact, there are tons of other contexts for it.

It's always amusing to come to these threads and watch console players justify paying for something I've got free since forever, on the PC. I mean it's like you've all drank Sony's marketing coolaid.

immortalfrieza:
To put this article simply, Sony wants to charge for a once free feature solely out of greed but they don't want to admit it to everybody because it would show what Sony really thinks of their customers: as nothing more than gullible walking wallets.

Ok, sorry to single you out here, but I see this all the time and it really, really bugs me.

Can we PLEASE stop framing arguments about business practices in emotive language like this.

Let me take this from the end...

"Walking wallets". Well, yeah. As opposed to WHAT exactly? Do you expect them to sell you games in exchange for good thoughts? If you're selling a product, your first interest is the profit that you're going to make from it. Everything else - the quality of the product, the business practices you use - is a decision based solely on that one single criteria.

"Gullible". Don't get this one. Who's being gulled here? The consumer? As far as I can tell, Sony isn't trying to convince people that this is a free service when it's actually not. There's no deceit here. (Now the rootkit CDs, on the other hand... that genuinely showed contempt for their customers. But that's a whole other issue.)

"Solely out of greed". See point #1, above. Sony want to make as much money as possible because that's their goal, as a company. (The exact same thing applies to consumers, except in reverse). If you're prepared to accept what their terms are, you buy their product. If not, you don't. That's how commerce works.

Now I'm not saying that this decision of Sony's is pro-consumer or altruistic or anything like that (although it'd be nice if they'd make more decisions that WERE pro-consumer.)

I AM saying that framing an economic argument in emotive moral terminology means that your argument lacks credibility. If you tell me that a company is greedy and that it regards me as a "walking wallet"... what am I, or anybody who reads your comment, supposed to take from that? Am I supposed to boycott the company because somebody doesn't approve of their business practices?

Now if you could make a case for me, as a consumer, losing money or getting an unfair deal by this... that I could relate to. But it'd have nothing to do with the company or anybody in it being "greedy".

Again, sorry for singling you out in particular as an example of this. It's just something that bugs me.

My breaking point: requiring PSPlus for services that already charge a monthly fee. MMOs, Netflix, Hulu, etc, should not require a charge (PSPlus) on top of charge (game) on top of charge (ISP). They want to charge for other services? Fine.

Ultratwinkie:

Steam sends out PETABYTES of worth of games around the world. I mean, look at this map. They even cover parts of Africa.

http://store.steampowered.com/stats/content/

How can steam afford this and Sony can't? Oh right because they need money to pay off the huge costs of a console. Using a business method that is disconnected to the modern world and modern financing.

Seriously, PSN has no more value than a humble bundle. In fact, it has less.

People pay for those petabytes that Steam sends out.

The argument is that Sony could use subscription money to improve PSN and that it would be difficult to compete with Xbox Live without making the subscription all but mandatory like it is with Xbox Live.

Ultratwinkie:

TheComfyChair:
It is very difficult for Valve too. Plus all those tiny indie studios on PC who offer multiplayer. Very difficult indeed. They're all bleeding cash for online play. It's a small wonder Valve even finds the money to keep their gas and electric turned on.

Ah well 'free online play' for SteamOS is another boon, as if they needed one, for the steam box as a competitor to the console space.

This.

Steam sends out PETABYTES of worth of games around the world. I mean, look at this map. They even cover parts of Africa.

http://store.steampowered.com/stats/content/

How can steam afford this and Sony can't? Oh right because they need money to pay off the huge costs of a console. Using a business method that is disconnected to the modern world and modern financing.

Seriously, PSN has no more value than a humble bundle. In fact, it has less.

That stats make no sense at all. That has nothing to do with online play, just game downloads. You do not need PS+ for game downloads.

Lyvric:
It's about change.

Why is this service suddenly "too hard" after it's been not too hard for years? Why should it cost money to see my friends online when it never did before? Why do I pay for internet, and a system, and the games that feature multiplayer AND multiplayer? This is all suddenly "too hard" when it's never been "too hard" before?

That and the plus card is now a basics card. we'll give you some 11 pluses if you don't have it. That's a bit ironic. It's not the numbers people are tossing about, be it 1, or 4, or 20, or 3,000$; it's the change of it all.

We saw loads of examples of this when everyone tried to be WoW in gaming with subscriptions. In fact, there are tons of other contexts for it.

PSN network has quite a steps down from Live and still is. Improvements are not free and being paid will allow to have a better service.

immortalfrieza:
To put this article simply, Sony wants to charge for a once free feature solely out of greed but they don't want to admit it to everybody because it would show what Sony really thinks of their customers: as nothing more than gullible walking wallets.

Or, Sony dumped a tremendous amount of investment in the network infrastructure and believes those using that service should pay for it.

It is a service they're providing and the costs just don't make it easy to give away when the network was shitty.

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