Sony’s PlayStation Network may not be free of subscription fees much longer, according to oblique remarks by its CTO.
SCE’s Chief Technical Officer Masayuki Chatani has this to say about Sony’s PSN plans in a recent interview, where he also explains how the slimlined PS3 and failed PSP Go were intended to appeal more to non-gamers:
Maintaining service will mean continuing cost. This is a major issue for a home electronics manufacturer, isn’t it?
Servers and the like have running costs, and we would face difficulties if our business depended solely on the sell-and-forget model. After we sell the hardware, though, we continue to sell products such as content and services.
We expect to see considerable growth in digital content, such as game download services, avatar items and the like.
We can also accept payment in a growing number of ways. In addition to single-payment packaged software, there are also schemes like monthly fees or per-item charges. I think this variety of payment methods will bring about a diverse range of playing methods, too.
Presumably making the entire PSN service require paid subscriptions, as with Xbox Live, would be a last resort, but it certainly sounds as though free access to online gaming services may in part give way at some point to a subscription based model…