Consoleation Crystal Ball: PSN Premium
VG247‘s rumor piece on PSN Premium info coming out at E3 next month should not surprise anyone. We’ve been hearing rumblings about this for months, dating back to last November. Now is not the time to be indignant or surprised about Sony deciding to jump on the “Let’s get paid!” bandwagon.
If we are to take the rumor piece at face value, here’s what we know about PSN Premium:
- Less than $50/year
- Streaming music app (like Spotify)
- One “free” PSN game per month (limited choices)
Obviously, there are plenty of blanks that need to be filled in here. As it stands, these perks don’t necessarily warrant paying a certain amount of cash per year. Even if the streaming music application can be played while in the middle of a game, not everyone wants to have music playing over what’s going on in-game. Also, the “free” PSN game perk is vague; is it a rental-type service where it’s free to play for a month and then automatically deactivates? What about the choices, especially if they’re not all that fetching in a given month? There surely has to be something else here. Perhaps something with the Video section of the PlayStation Store? Maybe a complimentary subscription to Qore? Special PlayStation Home goodies? Advance demos?
There’s certainly going to be a lot of speculation going forward until we hear from Sony next month.
The price is going to be the big question mark. Of course it will be less than $50… that’s what Microsoft is charging (at regular price) for its yearly Xbox LIVE subscriptions. I’m thinking somewhere between $30-$40 per year. If the price is closer to $40, Sony is going to have to do some serious selling and deliver a laundry list of features that will grab lots of attention… plus Microsoft could easily match that price point and the comparison would be a lot tougher. $30 seems like the sweet spot for an annual subscription as long as Sony is able to sweeten the deal with more than the two perks seen above.As far as monthly subscription pricing goes– if that’s even going to be an option– those guesses could be all over the map. I don’t, however, see any price higher than $10 working here… and that’s on the high side. The idea of monthly subs is to get people interested enough that they want to upgrade to the annual plan. $5 a month would probably work fine, given that monthly users could likely wind up paying as much as double what the yearly rate is if they stick with that plan.
Now that Sony is jumping on board the online revenue bandwagon and with Shigeru Miyamoto saying that Nintendo may be looking into the same thing, it’s only a matter of time before online play will see some sort of charge or subscription universally. Sony can claim all they want that online play will remain free, but Sony’s continuing losses indicate to me that online fees are inevitable. PSN Premium is the first step towords this inevitability. The truth is that the gaming community has come to accept the higher costs of gaming and the industry has no reason to change course. If PSN became pay-to-play, do you honestly see millions of people just selling off their consoles? Nope. They’ll whine and complain and compose worthless online petitions, but they’ll begrudgingly accept subscription costs. They’ve accepted higher game prices. They’ve accepted DLC and digital distribution.
This won’t be any different.