It seems that the rumours that Sony was seriously considering implementing a charge for the use of its PlayStation Network service weren’t entirely unfounded. Sony execs have admitted that the idea is an attractive one.
Word comes from IGN of an interview with Sony’s senior vice president of marketing, Peter Dille, who wouldn’t be drawn as to just whether or not Sony had already made a decision on whether or not it would charge for the service yet, but he puts paid to any lingering doubt about Sony wanting to monetise the service current service. If so, it could well be the beginning of a fairly fundamental shift in the console landscape.
The fact is that Sony’s PlayStation 3 has, almost universally, lagged behind Microsoft’s Xbox 360 when it comes to sales, due in no small part to the initially high cost of the console itself. Still, as the two consoles have dropped in price, it’s become apparent that many simply aren’t willing to pay for the ability to play online with friends. Indeed, that’s become on of the biggest draws for Sony’s console.
It’s important to remember for now that Sony hasn’t yet been drawn to speak in any detail about just what it plans to do with a subscription-based PSN service, but we’d imagine that at this stage it’s clear to those involved that charging for anything it’s currently offering for free would be something of a misstep.
Instead, it seems far more likely that we’ll continue to see downloads of demos, themes, and multiplayer remain free while new, subscription-only options are introduced later. Of course, all of this has emerged in the wake of a survey that Sony carried out earlier this year asking what kind of services PSN users might be willing to pay for, but Dille goes one step further, saying that Sony intends to offer new features to address consumer’s wants,
“And to try to also surprise and delight customers with things they didn’t think they needed because that’s always been what makes PlayStation a little bit different – that we try to be a little visionary.”