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Research Firm: PlayStation Plus Subscriptions Will Generate $1.2 Billion for Sony by 2017

August 15, 2013 Written by Kayvon Ghoreshi

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While we may have enjoyed free online multiplayer during the PS3 generation, that will not be the case with the PS4. If you don’t already know, access to online multiplayer will require a PlayStation Plus subscription in the next generation, although most free-to-play games and services like Netflix will be exempt from the paywall.

Research firm IHS Electronics and Media supports the move by Sony saying:

While this battle to engage publishers and consumers ensues, Sony has already taken a major step towards a more profitable and competitive PlayStation business with a single but significant commercial decision to place online multiplayer gaming behind the PlayStation Plus subscription paywall.

IHS forecasts that Sony’s change in strategy will help generate $1.2bn in annual consumer spending on PlayStation Plus subscriptions by 2017 and will give Sony access to an essential and substantial new revenue stream, one which Microsoft has enjoyed since the launch of Xbox Live way back in 2002.

The firm also says that, to date, PlayStation Plus has only generated $140 million whereas Xbox Live subscriptions brought in $1.25 billion in 2012. In the past decade, spending on Xbox Live subscriptions has reached $4.7 billion. IHS says the “revenue derived from this spending has enabled Microsoft to invest in and build a world-class online platform and digital content service, allowing the company to stay ahead of its console competitors.”

By making online multiplayer a pay-to-play feature, Sony can likely close this revenue gap and hopefully use the additional revenue stream to better their online service offerings.

IHS is also optimistic about the PS4′s overall profitability saying that “lower research and development costs for PlayStation 4 hardware, additional revenue streams from online service subscriptions and a more aggressive transition to higher margin digital content sales are combining to strengthen Sony’s games business outlook even in the face of increased competition from cheap Android consoles and alternative devices eating into consumers’ gaming time, including smartphones and tablets.”

Do you think multiplayer should have remained free or was it necessary to charge for it? Let us know in the comments.

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