Ever heard of the saying ‘there is no free lunch in the world’? Apparently, Sony seemed to have taken, or at least, are taking the saying seriously. And they are starting with the PlayStation 3, where the company is reportedly considering charging a fee for access to the online gameplay capabilities of its titles.
Read on for more information.
There is a lot about the PlayStation 3 which makes it difficult to hate. After all, it is the only console in the market which comes with a Blu-ray drive, superior hardware and processing power, a huge library of fantastic games and more importantly, free online multiplayer gameplay. And with the introduction of the PlayStation Move, it seems that Sony has covered just about all the bases which gave its competitors a comparative advantage.
Unfortunately for PlayStation 3 owners, the latest signs suggest that Sony has some not-so-pleasant ideas in store for the console. Apparently, the company is thinking of dropping one of its features: the ability to play multiplayer games online for free. Nothing has been confirmed yet, but Sony’s head of Computer Entertainment Andrew House has reportedly claimed that the company was in favour of imposing a small fee for unlocking multiplayer gameplay capabilities on its own first-party titles.
“We’re broadly supportive (of the principle)… and we’re exploring actively the same option for our own content,” he said in an interview with GameIndustry.biz. Which, in simpler terms, can be translated to mean ‘you must pay an extra sum of money before we make your game online-capable’.
Technically, Sony’s method differs from the traditional subscription-based service: you are not actually paying for an online gaming service. Rather, it is the act of unlocking the multiplayer feature on the game itself that will cost the user, while actual online gaming through the Playstation Network is expected to remain as a free service. However, it is likely that this distinction will be lost on customers who are only concerned about the fact that they have to ‘pay-to-play’.
However, there is a chance that Sony will not go through with its plans. While it may sound like we are grasping at straws, Sony has yet to make any official announcement about its intentions, and House has only indicated the company’s support and interest in the aforementioned matter. But we will really have to wait and see.
Meanwhile, if you have a PlayStation 3, we would strongly suggest making full use of the free online gameplay feature as often as possible. After all, that was one of the reasons you chose a Sony over Microsoft’s and Nintendo’s consoles, was it not?
Still, it is interesting to note that Nintendo was also considering similar options with the Wii, and Microsoft had already been charging customers for its online gameplay service since the original Xbox debuted. Could ‘pay-to-play’ be the way online console gaming was always meant to be? We will never know.