Saturday, 19 June 2010

E3 2010: Sony - PSN And Then Some

 There was a collective sigh of relief as Sony announced that PSN as we know it would remain free. But only PSN as we know it. It appears that we now have the option to pay for PSN - what is going on here? We send Drew to find out!

  Traditionally, PSN is a bit like yin and yang, it has two very distinct parts that contrast each other. One the one hand it is generally regarded that support is lacking for PSN compared to XBL while on the other hand it is a free service that allows on-line gaming, shopping and Playstation Home - which was suspiciously only briefly mentioned at this year's E3. This is how we know and love the PS3 with it's highs and lows, but now something is stirring which could change all that - or leave it just the same as it is.

  Let me explain. This year at E3 Sony announced a new paid tier for PSN called PSN Plus, don't worry the Drew Award for Innovative Service Names (DAISN) is remaining firmly in my sock drawer. But un-inventive names aside, what is PSN Plus? Put simply it's a subscription service that gives gamers access to free games, PS1 classics, minis, and themes along with the new "full-game demo" concept. The service also features an automatic update service which means updates are installed without you having to tell them to be, but this is such a pitiful thing to expect people to pay for that's the last you'll hear me say on it.

  The full-game demo feature however has some merit. The idea is that you download a demo that works in the same way as owning the full game for an pre established amount of time, allegedly around an hour. I guess the idea is that you get a more complete example of what owning the game would be
like. While it's an interesting attempt to drive interest in games I fail to see how it differs from a regular demo, especially as timed demos already exist. The only real advantage is that given that you have the time, it would be possible to compare single player and multi player elements of the game before you run out and buy it.

  Of course the real interest in Plus comes form all those free games. The deal is that for around $5o and year or $19 for three months (about 40 and 20 pound respectively in the UK) you get access to new games each month to download for free, along with themes and discounts. This might sound a little expensive but provided you download enough of the games you could save some money, the problem is that you never really "own" the games.

 According to Sony, once a subscription runs out you lose access to the games. Although, themes and game paid for using discount offered by the Plus service remain. This makes PSN Plus a bit of an elaborate rental service. The only way to make it really for you is to play and complete every game the service offers to get the full moneys worth out of it, but this assumes that you want to play every title. I for one will not play every Disney ps1 classic just because I paid 40 quid to do it! If your subscription runs out and you reactivate it you regain all of the previous content but I would still opt to simply pay for what I want and keep it.

 I'm not sure on this yet, even the European incentive of a free downloadable version of Little Big Planet if you buy close to launch has not sold me. It's an amazing game but I already own it! Of all of Sony's E3 announcements this is by far the most dubious, but like a good reporter I will pay for and use the service and let you know how it goes. Check back soon!        
Get the rest of your Sony E3 coverage here:

SonyE32010– Move

SonyE32010 – Intro

SonyE32010 – Games

SonyE32010 – 3D

SonyE32010 – Portable

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