Sony’s E3 press conference was a crowd pleaser in a lot of ways. The announcement that used games won’t require paid licenses went over very well, and the $399 price point ($100 less than the Xbox One) certainly didn’t lose the PS4 any fans. But Sony supporters were disappointed in one aspect of the new Sony console, the requirement to pay for a Playstation Plus subscription to access several of the PS4’s features. Now Sony’s clarified that, while PS Plus will be required for online play, other features will not require it.
Video services, such as Hulu and Netflix will not be part of Playstation Plus and won’t require a subscription to use on the PS4. Also, free to play games will be able to have their own online multiplayer, separate of Playstation plus. Sony Worldwide Studios President Shuhei Yoshida said, “As far as free-to-play games are concerned, it’s the publisher’s decision whether they put it inside or outside of PS Plus.”
However, online multiplayer in the great majority of games for the PS4 will require a Playstation Plus subscription. This is a change from Sony’s model with the PS3. Playstation Plus offers discounts and exclusives, but online play is free with or without a subscription. Playstation Plus will remain at $50 annually, and users can rollover their subscription from the PS3.
Microsoft’s Xbox Live Gold subscriptions, remaining at $60 annually for the Xbox One, have been required for online play since the days of the original Xbox. But Microsoft also requires a gold membership to use pretty much all the other services on its consoles (such as Netflix). So, Sony’s still undercutting Microsoft here (a little).
Microsoft has always charged for online play, and they’ve built a huge, robust network with that money. Hopefully this extra fee will go right back into Sony’s PS Network.