While Sony worked their hardest to distance themselves from Microsoft in terms of used games, lending games, and online connection requirements, they did announce something that bridges the gap between the two console makers. It was an announcement that got lost during all the clapping and cheering, but Sony did confirm a PlayStation Plus subscription is required for online play using PS4.

This is an announcement some predicted back when PS Plus was first announced, and it’s actually impressive that it took this long for Sony to adopt an online policy Microsoft has been using for years. Sony also couldn’t have selected a better moment to slide the tiny detail under the cracks – positioning the bullet point alongside some very positive news.

Since Sony literally slipped this news out without much fanfare or explanation, it’s hard to know how firm they will be on the PS Plus requirement. All we can assume at this time is that PS Plus will facilitate online multiplayer on the PS4 much like Xbox Live Gold does for Xbox gamers. And, as far as we know, online play will still be free on Ps3 and Vita.

Check out the presentation slide announcing the requirement below:

PS4 Online Play PS Plus Required

With this announcement, however, also come new expectations – specifically Sony keeping their online service up and running at all times. Obviously their use of the cloud for specific gaming services would suggest they have fool-proofed their online infrastructure, but after the PSN outage we’re sure plenty of gamers are gun shy.

But even if they may be a little unsure about PlayStation Plus, gamers were once again reminded of the benefits of PS Plus during Sony’s PS4 event. The Instant Game Collection will continue to offer high profile titles for free, including PS4 releases like Don’t Starve, Secret Ponchos, and Outlast, and Sony will give every PS Plus member a free digital copy of Drive Club: PS Plus Edition at launch.

Clearly, Sony is increasing their online support manifold, and as a result they need to fund their increased expenditures. A blockbuster deal with Gaikai and cloud-based streaming to the Vita can’t be cheap, even if some gamers are uninterested in such a feature.

Nevertheless Sony came away from their Press Conference looking like heroes with a cheaper and more gamer friendly console. At any other E3, an announcement like this might have elicited some “boos,” but this time it was met with a partially standing ovation. Granted, that ovation was for the slide’s other bullet points, but Sony doesn’t need to know that.

What do you think of Sony requiring PS Plus for online play on the PS4? Is it a small price to pay for a less restrictive console?

PS4 launches in Holiday 2013.

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