Pachter on PS3 online play: Sony “isn’t so profitable that it can afford to be magnanimous forever”

Critical Gamer writes: The rumours of a pricing structure for PSN, and exactly what that might entail, have been snaking around the internet for quite a while now – with no official word from Sony. Talking to Critical Gamer however, Michael Pachter of Wedbush Morgan Securities seems to think that the death of free online play on PSN is inevitable.

In answer to our question regarding a paid – for PSN service, Pachter was quick to put in that he ‘really can’t say’ what Sony will do. Pachter being Pachter however he was happy to give us his educated guess, which amounted to a charge for online play on the PS3 being an inevitability

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Cubes2993d ago

I don't see them charging for online play, although I do think they will start offering a more feature packed PSN with perhaps exclusive Beta demos and other exclusive DLC to paying subscribers.

deadreckoning6662993d ago (Edited 2993d ago )

Well, I personally think that they will force people to pay for online play at some point, but they will add so much more features to PSN and more value that people would be crazy not to want to pay for it. I'm willing to pay as long as it isn't more expensive than Live.

Theonik2993d ago

Well contrary to popular belief neither sony or MS needs to charge for online play. Both services are mostly p2p and they only cover for the cost of connecting the dots which isn't that great and they recoup from DLC sold through th service and adds. Adding a subscription would only give them additional revenue. however seeing as they are not in any great financial pressure to charge people for Mp as they aren't exactly bleeding cash from there they are better off creating additional revenue with a premium service and keeping their "free online play" selling point.

corneliuscrust2993d ago (Edited 2993d ago )

service like PSN or XBL so that you know all of the cost involved in every aspect of operation; infrastructure and staffing and all.

We, as consumers, are not privy to a LOT of information.

Theonik2993d ago

It is true that a large service such as live costs a lot of money to maintain however when subscriptions are not their sole source of revenue one has to question where the $500M+ that they make from subscription fees go. (since we know that there are at least 10M gold members paying 50$ a year) Can you honestly say that the total yearly cost to keep XBl running yearly is as hihh? Let alone the money for online play that is a service provided by the game devs not Live which is also the reason a lot of games on XBL are p2p. Now we know from financial reports that are public that currently Sony is making a profit from their games division so we know that they are not desperate to charge for online play.

exnihilonihilfit2992d ago

Is so that they can run MMOs that people have to subscribe to separately. It's much more attractive for a MMO maker to bring their game to a console if they know that console players don't have to pay a subscription fee just to play online at all. Sony will offer a subscription service loaded with features, and probably discounted access to MMOs, but people are less likely to subscribe to an MMO if they already have to pay for access to the internet on their console. More than likely, Sony will even make a first party MMO that receives free access with a subscription to the premium service, if not a few such MMOs. There are a lot of ways for sony to incentivize people to buy a subscription without having to force it on them by removing basic game connectivity.

AngryTypingGuy2992d ago

I've read rumors that PSN might keep online play free but charge for other features.

The bottom line is though that charging for PSN would be a whole new revenue stream for Sony. You know that has been in the back of their minds the whole time. Especially at a time when Sony's gaming division has been losing money for the past several years, they could really use that new revenue stream.

This raises a new question: If Sony starts charging for PSN and a lot of Sony fanboys who have been bashing Live users for years start paying for online PSN play, will that make them hypocrites? Actually, that was a rhetorical question, the answer is yes.

For the record though, I'm rooting for PSN to become so popular that it forces Live to go completely free to compete, that way we all win. Sadly though, I think it'll end up with Sony choosing to help recoup gaming division costs by charging for PSN.

Theonik2992d ago

Yes, i am sure Sony wants and needs the additional revenue but at this point it is not to their better interest to charge for Mp but they have the premium service planned for that. They want online free so they keep a selling point against the 360 and the premium service for an additional stream of revenue. That will allow them to make up for the losses they made in the past back and bring new features.
Yes, that is another reason why they would want online free. Sony has a division dedicated to making MMOs (Sony Online Entertainment) and has many MMOs planned for the PS3 and PC now so having a free basic platform will allow them to have a larger install potential for them. (seeing as there are a few people that would pay for an MMO and normal service fees. Having a free service doesn't mean they don't make money either. Even home makes money from micro transactions. The point of subscriptions is having a steady revenue you can be sure of to cover your upkeep.

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InfectedDK2993d ago (Edited 2993d ago )

Exactly my thoughts.. But I bet it will offer a lot including PS Cloud.. It won't just be some little extras like DLC and a few betas.. Not only. Howewer I think Sony will still offer the original PSN for free as a promise but the extras in the paid subscription will attract so many it's a win/win.

Anyway my guess is even better than Pachters.. Oh well seems I don't need that much thinking to reach that level anyway LOL.

nnotdead2992d ago

as long as playing online is free, i dont care.

Nicholas Cage2993d ago

i think psn will do well with this pay to play option. psn is perfect the way it is for me right now, but if i can have more features, why not?

morganfell2993d ago

The problem is that when Sony keeps the current version free and then charges for a version that has quite a few other features they will be attacked.

Microsoft removed features from free Xbox Live service and called it the Silver account. Once free features now cost money with the Gold Service.

If Sony keeps the current PSN free and doesn't remove a single item but offers a premium service with TV and Movie packages as well as DLC content then the facts will be so twisted by MS fans that many potential PSN customers will not see the actual truth.

jmare2993d ago

That makes no sense. MS fanboys will always attack Sony no matter what, so what does that have to do with anything? As long as there is a PSN option that allows users to keep what they have now for free, i.e. online play, then there should be no problem in offering a PSN option with more features at a price. The key difference between the Live model and the PSN Premium model, assuming the scenario I proposed, is that there is a choice in the PSN model.

If you just want to play games online, you pay nothing and you're set. If you decide you want the extra features, you can pay for it. Live does not allow this; if you want to simply play online, you must pay. 360 fanboys have nothing to do with this.

Captain Tuttle2993d ago

I knew that someone (I'm not surprised it's Morganfell) would blame MS or it's fans

PS360_372993d ago


You are dreaming....:

"As long as there is a PSN option that allows users to keep what they have now for free, i.e. online play..."

If Sony charges for anything, it will be online play. There is nothing else worth paying for and Sony knows it.

It would be like charging for HOME.

This is just my opinion but even if Sony does do what you think they will do, the majority of people won't be buying a premium service for some tv channels and extra demos

jmare2993d ago

How am I dreaming? Everything that Sony has said regarding a paid PSN service has been that Every feature available now will remain free, anything added may be part of the premium service.

And as for what was to be in the service:

Thats a little more than TV channels and extra demos.

sikbeta2993d ago (Edited 2993d ago )

I'm sure is going to be a Premium PSN Service, with the stuff kids and guys were crying for, like XGC, I so want Sony to Charge for that Feature and put more stuff on it, but always with the option of Playing on-line for Free...

Qui-Gon Jim2993d ago

I'll corroborate that. Sony has said that they are dedicated to keeping online play free. Not only that, but if they started charging for online play, they could face a class action lawsuit from people who bought games like Warhawk with the understanding that they wouldn't have to pay any more to play it. I just bought Demon's Souls and would be upset if the online components got taken out from under me, but I don't play games online enough to pay for it.

edgeofblade2992d ago (Edited 2992d ago )

"Microsoft removed features from free Xbox Live service and called it the Silver account. Once free features now cost money with the Gold Service."

Like what? Please enlighten me. Oh... and one little thing... there was never a free Xbox Live service before there was a Silver service...

DLC and Arcade (the original disk-based version on Xbox) were only for paying members back then. Now, a silver member can download content and games without having a Gold account. I see Microsoft GIVING a lot more to silver members than they did before. On then other hand, I know the took Facebook, Twitter, and Last.FM away because it was a limited time deal after the new features launched, but other than that, Microsoft has not done anything of the sort, the way you describe.

Let's take the comparison further, shall we. I can download any content I bought from XBL, but if I delete the videos from my PS3, that's it... it's like iTunes.

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Noctis Aftermath2993d ago

Sony will keep the current free service free, the paid service will be a premium service with more benefits( cross game voice chat comes to mind).

simplyRealistic182992d ago (Edited 2992d ago )

Hence the Title "Premium Service", why Are you people Listening To Pachter, I Thought the Saying goes "Don't Feed The Troll"

Megaton2993d ago

I don't even think they CAN charge for online play. It's not setup like this whole universal "thing" the way XBL is. Devs/publishers have to provide their own online systems for PS3 games, as far as I know. That's how Konami got away with that retarded Konami ID system for MGO, and why all online games published by Sony run on dedicated servers.

They'll do subscriptions for other things, but I don't think they're in a position to charge for online gaming. I certainly wouldn't pay for it. I've got PC gaming in my roots, it's a principal thing. Pay to play is a scam, period.

thor2993d ago

Dedicated servers is a good point. XBL provides developer tools to be able to create P2P games - not so much hassle for the devs, but you end up with a load of crappy, laggy P2P games with host advantage.

I was very annoyed with Konami for what they did to MGO. I would have played it a load had they not gone with that stupid system. I would have bought the DLC. 1 account per console is bullsh*t. Not having your PSN ID or friends list is bullsh*t.

On the whole I would prefer to have a load of games with dedicated servers than to have a unified system of craptastic laggy online play.

FlipMode2993d ago

So just because LIVE does it PSN needs to do it also? Please, if they wanna charge a subscription for things like beta access and etc. fine but what we have now will never cost money, end of.

2993d ago Replies(5)
HolyOrangeCows2993d ago

They already specifically stated that all of the current features would stay free if they were to introduce a premium package.

Besides, the opposite of what Pachter claims seems to happen about 50% of the Sony gonna start paying US to have more online stuff?! LOL

ShinRyuHadoken2993d ago

No, I think more paid PSN for the US. In Europe it will remain free. Cause European folks bought PS3 for free online. :)

Jerk1202993d ago

That's both retarded and unfair.

If they're going to charge for PSN then they'll charge for it in Europe too, no doubt.

madmonkey02993d ago

I bought my ps3 for the best games, not for free online.

Steve_02993d ago

Whats to stop someone from simply using a european account in the US? I have a UK account and US account, and I dont live anywhere near either.

shadow27972993d ago

You forget that Europe is usually the territory that get's screwed.

If Sony was going to start requiring people to play online (they won't), they would probably charge, say, $25 US and 25 EU, respectively. Exchange rate doesn't really matter to Sony.

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gta_cb2993d ago

the fact it is free to play online makes me want to buy multi plat games on the ps3 rather then my Xbox 360 so if it changes in the future all I can say is its a shame.

edgeofblade2992d ago

See, if I already have a larger friends list on XBL, I have invested more in my Gamerscore than my Trophy Level, and I've already paid for XBL Gold for ALL my 360 games, what's the point then?

The more games you play online or have played online on XBL, the more sense it makes to get these games on 360.

Unless you have a reason to be swearing off 360 all together... in which case, how is your's an unbiased opinion?

I certainly spend more time playing games on my 360 because I've paid for XBL Gold. Why would I waste that investment to play individual games for "free" on PS3?

Saigon2993d ago

Its already been stated that they charge the publishers a fee for placing the game on PSN...thats where they recop their funds..PSN Extended pack is for those who want extra features...

GiantEnemyCrab2993d ago

If they move all there exclusive beta, demos and DLC to the pay sub service I wonder where that will leave Qore? They barely have enough now to keep that interesting..

Pachter and his educated guesses...

Anon19742993d ago

I used to back up this guy because when I worked in the brokerage industry I had come across some of his reports and they seemed bang on.

This mystic "I can now see the future" mumbo jumbo he spews now on a regular basis is a different story altogether. When analyzing individual companies and writing full reports he was pretty good at assessing a company's strengths, weaknesses and looking at their stock to see if it was fairly valued.

This sound bite "Here's what's going to happen now" crap is simply that. It's crap. The guy has no idea where the industry's headed and he makes it abundantly clear that he doesn't understand gamers every time he opens his mouth now. It's time he's reigned in and is sent back to his real job, assessing company and stock performance. As it is now he's simply giving analysts a bad name every time he opens his mouth.

Abriael2993d ago

They might start charging for premium services like parties, cross game chat and other things not strictly needed to play. They already said that when they will add a pay to play service it will be "compelling" so in the end patcher is saying nothing that Sony said by themselves already.

Considering his smug and sensationalistic tone, though, it's funny to see how Patcher is becoming more and more like hiphopgamer, lol

Or maybe it's hiphopgamer that learned from patcher. Throwing wild predictions into the fray -> some will become true -> controversy -> attention -> profit!

quadalupeupe2993d ago

maybe the point of this article is flamebait for webhits (It worked)

i like Sony more than Microsoft, check my comments history if you don't believe me but I aint gonna be a fanboy and stick with PS3 if they were to start charging for online without an opiton of free online play still there

That option of free online play has to be there or i will cause hell

Heisenberg2992d ago

I hope you're right about them not charging simply for online play, cause that's all I really need, but there's just no way I'm going to start doling out cash every month to do it, I've got enough bills. I love PSN the way it is, if they've gotta start charging for certain things, so be it, but don't make it so if you don't pay you get nothing and have a permanently offline machine.

Also, off topic, THEY TOOK OUR BUBBLES!!!

mastiffchild2992d ago

I'm nit willing to pay for opn line play over PSN. NEVER. Not with PS3 and that's for certain. If the premium content package is AMAZING I might but I've alrready been conned by MS for WAY too long to ever be forced to pay twice again for very basic on line gaming that's free on my PC. It's BS.Pure and simple-christ some reports say Sony are actually turning a profit on Home already! I doubt they think they can go back on their word over basic PSN membership being free-it was the reason millions of us bought a PS3 and unlike dropping Linux millions actually use it. No chance.

Koneesha2992d ago

That's my thoughts exactly. I think that the subscribers will get like the game demos earlier, and maybe a kinda ps1 game download service or something

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jjacinto232993d ago

i rather thank them than ask why they don't charged

deadreckoning6662993d ago

But that has nothing to do with whats going on here. How long do you believe Sony can hold out without charging for online? They could be making alot more revenue if they did. Lets say Sony charged 20 bucks a year for online. Even though online isn't free, they would STILL have the price and value advantage over the 360 while also making revenue.

I'd love if they kept online free, but it just doesn't make business sense..which is what this article is about.

Ju2993d ago

Depends. "Business sense" can mean "Free to play" is a reason why they sell the console in the first place. As in being a marketing reason.

A fee is not the only way to make money, though. Sony went the way of micro transactions. There are things on the horizon like pay for cloths, avatars, themes, etc.

While that is no forced revenue, it is still a form of pay-if-you-choose system which can be as effective as fees.

It requires a little bit more creativity to see the business plan in that system, and it's simply different than what MS does. But it doesn't mean, they don't make money with PSN elsewhere.

Now if that wouldn't work, then, yes, somehow they would need to offset network costs with some other pay system.

Colonel-Killzone2993d ago

Sony will give a premium and a free version simple as that. The only thing that will annoy gamers is if Sony takes off something that used to be free and put it on the premium. If Sony did some nonsense like that then you will see people complaining. I know a lot of people who said they do not mind paying but we just have to get some amazing features. All Sony needs to do is offer up a lot for the Premium because as the saying goes you get what you pay for. So if I'm giving them my money I expect to get everything I payed for.

Sevir042993d ago

In keeping The PSN a free service, it shows that the features on live really arent worth the money you pay for it. Sony still has some ways to go in making it as socially cohesive as MS, but in terms of features they have match them and in some cases even surpased them with their own exclusive offerings like Home, something which is by far a growing community and is constantly being update. Yet they still keep the Network free. There comes a time however that they'll have to apply something of a payed subscription. i just hope they dont make it cost an arm and a leg.

Still after being 4 years on the market with a network that keeps growing day by day with new features and content it's startling to know they've kept it free for this long and still manage to turn a profit. I remember reading an article that home in it's first month of launching made more profit and the PSN in a month and Faster than it in it's first quarter, thats pretty impressive, and that was when home was a far cry from the Home it is no.

I will support Sony's move to a paid subscription because the hard workers over there constantly innovates and brings me new ways to enjoy my entertainment. They've gotta eat and provide for their families, so they've got my money. until then i'll say thanks for keeping it free.

Ju2993d ago (Edited 2993d ago )

I'm not using home, actually.

But I had checked it out recently.

Man, how it has changed. It is becoming more and more a virtual (gaming) world. I am surprised, there is no separate home section in the news or something.

There are now virtual (pay-to-play) arcade games everywhere. Pretty good one's, too. Nobody reports about those, though. It needs more marketing money, not sure what Sony is waiting for, here. Maybe they want more content, still. But, that pay system can generate a lot of revenue - not only for Sony, but for 3rd parties as well.

I can imagine, Home must be interesting for developers, too. Home is a complete game engine. No need to write code (I guess?). It's already there. What's left is creating content without a lot of coding effort...

DeadlyFire2993d ago

PSN is still much younger than XBL as well. XBL live launched in 2002 and for the Xbox it was mostly centered around each game without alot of cross game stuff. PSN is the same way. Just has a little catching up to do.

I believe PSN can be kept free. It is simple. Keep the free Online play for free with no other features. Add that other mess in tiered subscriptions. Base one being most minimal features and top tier offered it all. I would gladly pay for a subscription for only Cross game features for PSN. Of course for a minimal fee. I say split up the features and let gamers pick and choose the ones to add into their package to pay for. As long as prices aren't too bad.

PirateThom2993d ago

As I've always said, I would pay for cloud storage. If they offer that, I would be on it right away.