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Talking Point: Why PS4's Social Features Probably Won't Be Free

Posted by Sammy Barker

Pay, create, share

The current goodwill surrounding the PlayStation 4 will almost certainly come to an end at some point. There comes a moment in every system’s build-up where the early enthusiasm is replaced by a wave of negativity. This onset of scepticism typically stems from the hardware in question’s price – or, in the PlayStation Vita’s case, the cost of its memory cards – but it almost always comes after a swell of world-beating positivity. Before long, the initial optimism is replaced by a chorus of cynicism, complaints, and the distant chant of a few loyal soldiers desperately trying to reassure everyone that everything’s going to be okay.

Sony’s done everything right with its next generation platform thus far. It’s announced some generally impressive looking software, proved that it has learned a number of lessons from the abysmal launch of the PlayStation 3, and invited smaller, independent developers to be a part of its production pipeline. But there’s still a long way to go until launch, and past experience dictates that there’s destined to be plenty of tears, tantrums, and over-reactions before the system finally nestles on store shelves later this year.

While the cost of the console is the likeliest candidate for that rush of negativity, we can’t help but feel that the backlash could come from other sources instead. Sony has underhandedly hinted that it’s not going to overprice its impending platform in various interviews, and given its attitude to the PS4 in general, we genuinely believe that the manufacturer has a palatable price point in mind. But having jealously eyed Microsoft’s success with Xbox Live over the past decade and a bit, we can’t help but feel that the firm may want a bigger piece of the pie. And that’s where the oft-discussed ‘Share’ functionality comes in.

The promise of on-demand live streaming, screenshot uploads, and video editing played a big part during the organisation’s PlayStation Meeting press conference, but there was never any mention of cost. While you’ll be able to export footage to external domains such as Facebook and YouTube, early user interface images of the PS4 show that you’ll be able to peruse content on the console’s dashboard, too. That’s going to result in one gigantic bandwidth bill for a manufacturer that still doesn’t charge consumers to pay online. It’s an expense that we don’t expect the company to waive.

While we suspect that the core of the PlayStation Network is going to remain free – online gaming, messaging, and so forth – we have a hunch that the aforementioned features are going to form a large part of a beefed up subscription service. We’re speculating on the specifics, but we wouldn’t be shocked if the sugary social centre of the next generation system demanded additional payment, with Sony perhaps allowing vanilla members to upload a set number of screenshots or videos before having to pay for unlimited access. Streaming, meanwhile, is almost certain to sit on a separate tier, as the costs associated are likely to be far too high for the feature to be doled out for free.

The company’s already confirmed that PlayStation Plus will play a big role on the PS4, so it stands to reason that such functionality will be bundled into the publisher’s premium service. It’s no coincidence that the manufacturer’s been promoting the package prominently in multiple media channels throughout the course of 2013, presumably with the hope of locking consumers into the platform ahead of the next generation. But it stands to reason that price models will need to change if our assumptions are accurate, with the addition of a third system and new functionality probably proving a strain on the membership’s current $49.99 price point. We’re not sure how the platform holder’s going to navigate the transition, but we’re sure that it’s got something in mind.

Whether that will be enough to prompt the abovementioned backlash, we’re not entirely sure, but we do think that it’s worth getting ready for the inevitable onslaught of invisible costs. The vision that Sony showed for the PS4 earlier in the year was undeniably impressive, but it’s also unfeasible without the implementation of subscriptions, memberships, and additional expenses. Gaikai streaming will almost certainly not be free, and we wouldn’t be surprised if that all-important ‘Share’ button joined it under the pay-to-play heading. If we’re correct, the biggest challenge for the platform holder will be justifying the segmentation of such important features from the initial outlay of the hardware itself.


Would you be willing to pay extra for access to the PS4’s social features? What do you think would be a reasonable price for unlimited streaming and video and screenshot uploads? Let us know in the comments section and poll below.

Would you pay extra for the PS4's social features? (41 votes)

Of course, just take my money now

12%

I'd need more details first

51%

No, I don't care about sharing video anyway

37%

Please login to vote in this poll.

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User Comments (29)

Epic

#2

Epic said:

Online streaming of content is not an easy and cheap process my guess just like you said only PS+ users maybe able to stream content and cross game chat.
My question is if they are going to apply this what's going to happen to the PS3 every month and PS Vita "free" games?

KALofKRYPTON

#3

KALofKRYPTON said:

@Epic I'd say that Plus will stay as it is in regard to PS3 and Vita.I think PS4 will have a different tiered system put in place.

Savino

#4

Savino said:

Ithink that the sharing stuff will be free for all.... BUT (yeah, a big but) if you dont pay some kind of annual or monthly fee, your content will not appear imediatly after you upload, it will take a few hours!
For those who pay the fee everything will be real time.

ShogunRokAdmin

#5

ShogunRok said:

There has to be some catch, there always is. Anyone who thinks otherwise is in denial, plain and simple. And on the subject of negativity, the article is spot on. The media will always find something to pick holes in - the PS4 won't be the perfect do-no-wrong console that some believe it already is.

BornOfEvil

#7

BornOfEvil said:

I wouldn't mind paying for the ability to video/screen share, stream past games and view what my friends are playing. At least Sony isn't forcing you to pay to play your games online, so yeah, I'm completely willing to pay for those extra features.

I just want to know where the whole, controlling your friends game feature comes in. Will you have to pay for that, because it sounds like you would?

Jaz007

#8

Jaz007 said:

If they could have thier free online beat xbox's paid and then have the paid destroy it completely. Now that would be something. I have a hard time seeing what Microsoft will put up against this, espcially with all of the free games and discounts with plus.

KALofKRYPTON

#9

KALofKRYPTON said:

@Jaz007 I think it's all going to be very similar with the addition of second screens via glass and surface, the touted TV services and such, and unless MS changes it's behavior towards publishers I doubt they'll ever have anything like Plus.
@TheRealBatman I'm not sure, it's going to have to be under some pretty specific circumstances that I'd want anyone controlling my game remotely.
As I've said elsewhere, I think PSN and store access will remain free, but the advanced feature set to be based on a Plus like subscription.

rjejr

#10

rjejr said:

I don't think we hear any price info until MS tells us about always-on DRM.

I was this><close to buying a 360 last year but paying $50yr to watch NF and use IE just struck me as wrong. Well that and all the Kinect games got crap reviews.

Sony will charge something for "sharing" and will raise the price of PS+ to $59 on PS4 (just like MS did w/ Gold). Question is - what's free and what's pay to play and how much? But pay we will.

Lionhart

#12

Lionhart said:

I for one loathe Microsoft for charging for Gold simply to play online. Besides, I haven't much love for the XBOX and especially the GOLD Membership thing. I've always been a Sony PlayStation and Nintendo fan while I mean no disrespect to XBOX fans; I believe that Microsoft is milking money out of their LIVE customers and boy do they have too many fps shooters on the platform. I love and respect Sony and Nintendo for not juicing money out of our pockets for online services but I'm sure that Sony will keep most things free with the PS4 but there will without doubt be some sort of charge for the always online video and photo sharing because the bandwidth for all of that is most certainly expensive.

KALofKRYPTON

#13

KALofKRYPTON said:

@rjejr MS have officially debunked the always online rumors.

One of my friends who has Kinect gets most use out of talking to the xbox for functions, mostly with LoveFilm and really likes it for that. The 'better with Kinect' features on Mass Effect and (especially) NFS Most Wanted are well done too. Using voice control to use easydirve to change the mods on your car on the go is pretty much perfect, much better to use in a race than going through the menus with the d-pad. Of course, this is basically good use of a microphone and well implemented vocabulary, but something I do wish Sony would copy to be honest.
The only thing I've really ever wanted a 360 for is the insane amount of shmups on offer compared to PS3.

pushx

#14

pushx said:

Of course the social aspects will be free of charge. The videos won't even be hosted on PSN. Remember at the PS4 reveal how the Killzone guys posted the video onto facebook? My guess is that you'll be able to link your PS4 account to facebook the same as you can with PS3. It would make more sense to go with that. I wouldn't be surprised if Sony also allowed you to post videos to Youtube either considering you now have a dedicated app for it on PSN. This article seems to have been written with a sensationalist headline in order to get hits.

Facelord

#15

Facelord said:

@KALofKRYPTON Microsoft hasn't debunked a thing, only a rumor with an unverified source has "debunked" it. The fact that Microsoft still, as of this posting, hasn't debunked the always-online rumors is why we all expect it to hold some truth.

@pushx You're correct about bandwidth, the only people who will have any bandwidth issues are third-parties like Facebook, Twitter and streaming services, who can totally manage, and your ISP. Sony won't have to dedicate much bandwidth to the Share services, your system and ISP take care of that. I don't know why people are thinking Sony will handle this themselves, it's absurd. I think the social elements will be free, but cloud gaming support will require some kind of fee. That's the only thing they would have any reason to charge for, since they actually do handle the bandwidth for cloud gaming.

pushx

#17

pushx said:

@Facelord
Exactly! At last a sane voice lol. Sony have already stated that their online functions won't impact on game performance. They even went to the trouble of including a custom chip to handle the online stuff. And I seriously doubt they would include a share button on the controller and then charge people for it's use. As I said I think this is just sensationalist nonsense.

pushx

#19

pushx said:

@Lionhart
I doubt PSN will handle the photo and video sharing. That will be done on sites like facebook and youtube. Thats why the Killzone guys posted screens and video on facebook at the reveal event.

pushx

#20

pushx said:

PS: I also seem to remember them announcing a deal with UStream at the event. Hmmm.

Valky

#21

Valky said:

Since I will take advantage of the Gaikai streaming, meaning that I will try get a decent internet connection and speed (and probably fail since my country is far from perfect from this point of view), I will surely pay for this streaming service.
I believe this will be a separate bill, im not sure how much but my guess is that 50€ a year will not be much :|

SilentJ

#22

SilentJ said:

I doubt I'd stream or upload anything even if it was free so I probably won't be paying extra for it.

rastamadeus

#23

rastamadeus said:

I wouldn't ever use these features so for me I couldn't give a toss if it's free or paid for. I realise I'm in the minority there though, like me not being on any sort of social network . For those that are into it I hope it's free or included in PS+. I'm much more interested in how long PS+ will carry on on PS3 as I won't be getting a PS4 for a good year or two.

Valky

#24

Valky said:

@rastamadeus that's also a thing I want to check before I buy a PS4, what about my digital collection? I guess it won't be carried over so it will be left to die with the PS3 forever, will it make the PS3 immortal? I seriously doubt it, there is no interaction whatsoever between the two consoles, meaning one will disappear sooner or later, and I doubt they will give you access to download them again, it will be only Gaikai for that.

BlueProxy

#25

BlueProxy said:

Hopefully they won't charge, but if they do it should be a very small amount... and optional. I understand companies spend money to build and maintain certain features, but they all, always over due it when pricing the customers. Keep it sensible, seriously, shouldn't be more that a few dollars a month.

Zetrayrus

#26

Zetrayrus said:

I'm not exactly interested in the social features. So it doesn't matter whether it cost or not. However if it is free, then that will be just another little side thing I mess around once in a while.

SH1ELD

#27

SH1ELD said:

This feature is very helpful but not on current games cause we barely get staked in mid games on these days .When you go back in 80's and 90's you'll find many games needs social monitoring to our friends .

DoublezZ01

#28

DoublezZ01 said:

Come on its obvious that a feature built into the controller itself is going to be free... heck syncing your Facebook YouTube and google accouns is already free aren't they! U can do the same thing on your smartphones! ...so just. because it is a consul with a new dedicated button for sharing you think they will start charging for it, that's ridiculous! I think everyone if not some of you are over thinking this a little. yes maybe the streaming services like guai kai u-stream and whatever else but not the stuff that we already have access to on our smart phones and computers and tablets! Only time will tell though!

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