The online experience of PlayStation 4 is a significant step above the PlayStation 3’s, SCE Europe boss Jim Ryan told us, and that’s why you’ll have to fork out for a PlayStation Plus subscription if you want to take advantage of it.
“The online experience on PS3 has got better, but at the beginning it was rather rudimentary, and the investment associated with it reflected that,” the executive told us of the change in an interview at E3 2013.
“We are going to make a very significant step-change in the online experience with PlayStation 4. Some of that functionality was spoken about yesterday, and some on February 20, and that’s all great and we’re really happy that we’re able to make our online experience much more competitive, but the flipside is that this stuff comes at a cost.
“When you’re trying to achieve a £349 price-point and trying to deliver all this functionality, the money has to come from somewhere.”
Ryan said adding multiplayer to the very successful PlayStation Plus package seemed the most appropriate way to cover costs.
“I think we’ve done it in a reasonable and fair manner, and I don’t feel defensive in sitting here and looking at the whole package,” he added.
“Yes, we’re charging for online multiplayer, and we have to be quite straight about that and not hide it at all. It is part of PlayStation Plus, and all the good stuff that goes with that. Set that against the competitive offering and the overall value proposition that it’ll provide UK consumers, and I don’t feel bad about it at all. I don’t feel apologetic.”
Ryan was at pains to point out that PlayStation 3 and Vita’s online multiplayer will remain free regardless of Sony’s plans for the PlayStation 4.
“The amount of people that engage in online multiplayer on PlayStation 3 is very considerable, and it’s important that they feel comfort that they’re not going to be charged for something that’s hitherto been free,” he said.
PlayStation Plus costs the local equivalent of about $5 per month and includes discounts, full games and bonus items as well as early access to betas. Most people seem pretty satisfied with it.