Now that the initial shock of Sony confirming PlayStation Plus will be required for PS4 online play has worn off, the console maker can start talking details. More importantly Sony needed to justify their decision, and justify they did. And, as it turns out, Sony’s logic is in line with our speculation regarding PS Plus.
As Sony explained at E3 2013, online features are being positioned as a “big pillar” of the PS4 experience. Cloud streaming on Vita, the share button, uploading and editing video files are some of Sony’s new features for PS4, and with shiny new features comes an added cost.
That cost is something Sony can no longer bear, at least not without the help of their dedicated fan base. In other words, the $50 yearly subscription for PS Plus will help pay for those new services.
Charging for online multiplayer makes sense, and was something we predicted might be in PlayStation Plus’ future, but there are still some questions to be answered. Chiefly, we want to know how Sony plans to ensure their service won’t suffer the same type of devastating outage that occurred two years ago.
Now that gamers will be paying for their online service they will expect a certain level of quality. The “yes it has issues, but it’s free” excuse will no longer be valid.
In addition to clarification on the PS Plus issue, Sony also revealed that $399 was always the price point they had in mind for the PS4. Prior to E3, that price point might have seemed like a deal-breaker, but after Microsoft revealed the Xbox One will retail for $499, the PS4’s price sounded more than reasonable…almost acceptable even.
It’s strange how context can alter the public’s perception of a retail price. Had Sony announced the PS4 at $499, they might have looked less like the shining white console knight than they came across as. Now, comparisons between the PS4 and Xbox One are barely relevant, as the two console’s core philosophies differ in some pretty fundamental ways. However, since it’s always fun to put two consoles’ girth up against each other, here’s a size comparison for the Xbox One, PS4, and their respective predecessors.
And finally, since it wouldn’t be a PS4 post without talk of disc-based games, Sony President Shuhei Yoshida wanted to emphasize again that games on the PS4 would be treated exactly like PS3 games. That means players can trade them, resell them, or keep them forever.
“We didn’t make a policy decision [for other company’s mishaps] — it takes time and effort. We are going to treat disc games like the PS3 because there are a lot of people that like to share their games…we do expect more people will gradually shift to all digital, but it’s not going to happen overnight. There are still parts of the world that do not have robust Internet infrastructure, but it’s important to provide what people need.”
Sony clearly learned a thing or two during this current generation of consoles about how to improve their dialogue with the consumers. Granted, they have the better message to deliver, but they also know how to position potentially controversial decisions so that consumers can understand the motivations behind them. They have all the momentum, but can Microsoft take any of it back?
PlayStation 4 launches this Holiday season.