Analysts Suggest Free PSN Could Be Further Stripped Back

Part of the appeal of the PlayStation Network is that – currently at least – you don’t need to pay anything to play with your friends online. Of course, one could reasonably argue that much of the cost of running the network in this way is offset (that’s for another article entirely) but the fact is that you can buy a PlayStation 3 (or a Vita) and a game (assuming it’s new, or doesn’t require an online pass at all) and jump straight into some online gaming.

[drop2]And whilst that’s likely to remain the case for the current machines (and perhaps should be something Sony shouts about more) as Sony posts one ridiculously massive loss, analysts have weighed in with their opinion on where the service itself will be heading away from just thinking about gaming.

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As Kaz Hirai attempts to steer the PSN into new territory, things might well have to change, and Hirai has already stated that he intends to “increase sales by enriching [Sony’s] catalog of downloadable game titles and subscription services available through the PSN platform.”

“I think it’s unlikely that they will require a fee,” says Michael Pachter, analyst for Wedbush. “But think they will strip down the free version to multiplayer and not much else in order to encourage people to pay the fee.”

Another analyst, M2’s Billy Pidgeon thinks that Sony will continue to tier the pay-for options. “Providing networked services for online gaming is not inexpensive,” he said, “and charging for these services would help Sony defray those costs. I think Sony would best benefit by continuing to build out on the currently employed freemium model, charging for enhanced, tiered and incremental items, services and add-ons to add value to the online gaming experience.”

The general consensus is that Sony need to leverage the other non-gaming offerings and tie up some deals with content distributors in the same way Microsoft have. But offering up online gaming without immediate cost is clearly something that the PlayStation brand needs to hang on to.

Source: GI.biz.

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43 Comments

  1. I have a 360 S. My Gold sub ended a few months ago. It’s a lazy Sunday and i wouldn’t mind an hour or two on MW3 as i own MW3 on 360, but then i would need a Gold sub. It’s not pretty as i wouldn’t need it in the long term and it’s costly for what it’s worth. There is a discount on the dashboard written in letters so huge they had to cut the word so its very last letter is taken away and moved to start the next line. It is kind of cheap for 3 months but clicking it only gives you an error.

    I really don’t want to be in the same situation with PlayStation.

  2. I think it would be sucide for Sony to charge for PSN access as free online play is one of it’s selling points plus, PSN is not the best online service so it would be a bit of a hard sell for them.

    I can see Sony adding more features to PS+ in an attempt to get more subscribers. I wonder what percentage of profits made from the PSN store are used for the upkeep of PSN?

    Oh and did Patcher say something? *goes back to doing that thing he was doing*

    • They just need to streamline the XMB, and allow more system memory; it’s a hardware problem that can’t be solved this generation, look at the Vita they’re slowly coming to it, let’s just hope the PS4 won’t be as ignorant in their traditional Japanese way and more suited for the modern world.

      • (that was a comment on “PSN is not the best online service”; sure there is also the server side but when the client side is as struggling as that only doing one side is pointless)

    • I still don’t get this “PSN is not the best online service” crap.

      Okay, PS3 doesn’t have cross-game chat, but that’s a hardware issue, not a network issue. Other than that, when you’re playing a game, in my personal experience, it’s entirely indistinguishable from Live.

      • Have you been to the matchmaking in third-party games?

      • CGC is just part of it, but it’s when it’s joined up with other features it gives it an edge

        A party system so a group of friends can stay together in lobby, launch all into the same in-game lobby together, quit the game return the party area, then launch another game again in to the same in-game lobby.

        A fast update & patching system (although my PS+ is just fine)

        A network which isn’t down every Thursday for weeks on end.

        Personally I’d sooner have online gaming including in the price of the console & games, but that’s one of the reasons I’m a PS3 owner

      • The text-chat thing with the ability to invite the whole chat via XMB almost makes up for the party thing (except for the “Party” buttons in the game menu itself), but inside the game it’s broken by silly network matchmaking anyway; on LIVE there seems to be a more solid system.

      • I think they missed a trick a bit there with the “text-chat”, if they called it “parteeey” or something (starting with a Q, perhaps?) it would probably make more sense to people, it has good use.

      • Also on a wishlist would be logging in on multiple controllers, not just like in resistance 2 but across the system.

  3. I don’t see this happening. For a start, Playstation is one of the most profitable sectors of Sony. Secondly, Ps+ is already there for the optional features, and it’s good value too! One problem with Playstation, and probably why it’s selling less than expected, is that the advertising sucks (Not for us, because it’s awesome stuff, but it doesn’t target those who don’t know about Playstation.)
    If this happened though, I wouldn’t mind as long as it was a replacement for the used games ban.

    • You gotta hand it to the Xbox’es, they definitely look more shiny and lively, Sony products don’t have any Bling *customer satisfaction from a new modern thing) as such.

      • Well the PSPgo does (maybe even too much with the spangles), and the old PS3 to an extent with its pretentious style and the touch “buttons”, but the Slim doesn’t excite me really.

      • Same with the controllers, they’re just plastic-ky things, tools as such.

      • It’s just like they swapped places, xbox becomes old playstation, playstation becomes FAR less noisy old xbox…

  4. Sounds like suicide.

  5. This is common business sense, but for a few years Sony have lacked that.

    For how much financial crap Sony are in, realistically they should perhaps have released their latest suite of streaming services behind the PS+ paywall, moving them now would cause negative press.

    But now they have HBO, AMZ Prime & MLB etc in the States & all those others here to not behind the paywall I’m not sure what they can do… However putting them in PS+ is kinda pointless because TVs have these services & similar built-in these days & theres a whole range of media streamers for those that don’t, like AppleTV, Roku, Boxee etc where you dont have to pay to access subscription services.

    Not sure how Sony can make PS+ better value, it’s already fine & cramming more stuff in would only further danger profit from it (if they’re in profit with PS+ that is)

    • You seem to contradict yourself? You’re saying streaming services should have been behind PS+, but then they are only good when free and not paid?

      • Not me, just think it would be another string to PS+’s bow, personally think it’s pointless as there would be other, cheaper & more convenient ways to access them

        But making PS+ more attractive is what Pachter has spoke about & that’s one way which has worked well for their rival

      • I’m sure they can think of something now that they see benefits motivate people to buy subs. They basically managed to turn the problems they had into benefits (for PS+ owners), it’s not like they’re all out of troubles now. :)

  6. Sony don’t talk about Plus subscriber figures, either. Just saying.

    • Lots of Plussers on the PSN list however, hard to imagine it’s a big flop as it is.

      • I’d imagine most that frequent gaming sites and the Blog subscribe. Small percentage though.

      • Don’t know how many subscribe outside of my friend bubble, most of whom are interested enough in gaming to spend most of their time talking about it. Difficult to imagine it’s got any mainstream traction though. Even within my friend bubble subscription rates look about half what it was last year if avatars are anything to go by.

        If it was impressive you could bet Sony would be shouting about it a bit, or at least throwing out some revenue figures or take-up percentages

      • ;)

      • E3 is when Sony do numbers so guess that is when you will hear. most on my friends list have it great value.

  7. Can’t see it….

  8. What type of idiot would buy a new game for, say over £35/$40’ish AND?!?! then pay even more just to play the game online? ? ? (i am not going to answer that…) LoL:D + I love PSN the way it is now, hopefully SONY won’t change it;)

  9. If Sony were to strip back free PSN features, then I would expect the paid service to substantially improve. The XBL service is near flawless from what I’ve used of it, literally the only downside I can see is that you have to pay – meanwhile there are a plethora of downsides to the PSN service.

    • I like that they have videos and stuff for free on XBL, helps it look lively and supported; no idea where they are on the new dash though but on the old one they were really prominent.

      • Where as on PSN you have to log in somewhere to the PS Store where you are met with an often absurd cataloguing system, and then download a vid onto your HDD, find it, and only then play. It’s kind of a huge barrier between the company and the consumer.

      • The PS Store is a total joke, everything about it is wrong. Layout, pricing, etc. Everything is so much more fluid and seamless on XBL, making it a far better experience.

      • bit far fetched gaz.

  10. So, you pay for a console, pay for the electricity to run it, pay for the broadband, pay to use the PSN online services and then because at that stage all you can afford are pre-owned games you have to pay again if you want to play them online.. Next gen is going to be awesome :p

    • Don’t forget about the controller batteries ;)

      • I think we can allow electricity costs to cover that.. I don’t want to exaggerate things.. :P

      • I don’t mean charging the controllers, i mean buying a charger or AA batteries :)

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