Daily Reaction: The Actual Price of the PS4: What it Means if PS World is a Premium Online Service

As Sony is only a day away from announcing the much anticipated PS4 (codenamed Orbis) at PlayStation Meeting 2013, new rumors have released talking about a premium service called PlayStation World that will replace PS+. With that the Daily Reaction crew of Seb and Dan break down what this new service could entail, as well as the PS4’s potential release date, suspected pricing, and the new controller (DualShock 4).

Dan: According to Kotaku, a source has stated that Sony is looking to launch the PlayStation 4 in November 2013, with two pricing models – $429 and $529 – and the inclusion of a new PS Eye. Also being mentioned was the new PSN structure that would allow multiple accounts to be logged in on the same console at the same time, and the evolution of PS+ going to a much more robust service called PlayStation World.

Given the amount of backlash from the PS3 launching at $599 in the states, it seems logical that they would drop the price of their next system, but have they dropped it enough if it’s only $70 less? Given that we have already stated what price we feel is justified for the console, I will not go too deep into my own opinion on the pricing, but I do feel that for many consumers this might not be enough of a drop avoid negative feedback. In reality, there is no magical number that will stop many people from complaining about having to pay anything. No matter how advanced or high-end a product is, it will never be cheap enough for everyone, as we all feel the market needs to bend to us, and not the other way around.

The real interesting aspect of this rumor is that, once again, Sony could launch with two different SKUs with a pricing difference of $100, meaning there could be a significant difference between the two packages. Given that there are many fans who are curious to see how Sony will handle backwards compatibility, this leaves room for Sony to release a second SKU that will have a built in Cell chip to handle PS3 games. This would be very similar to the launch systems we saw for the PS3, where they had an Emotion Engine chip installed to allow full backwards compatibility, but which were eventually removed to cut cost of production down. If Sony was to raise the price of the system from the outset, this could allow them to curb their own cost of manufacturing, while giving the consumer a way to play their old content for a premium. This might not sit well for all consumers, but is an option for them to play games from their library. I just hope that if this truly is a path they take, that they also find a way to fit in the ability to play PS2 games.

As many analysts have suspected, Sony is also rumored to be moving to a premium online service called PlayStation World, which will replace the current PS+, and be the gateway for most of the PS4’s online features. From the sound of it, it seems that the PS4 will still allow gamers to play online without having to join the premium service, but expanded functionality will be restricted. This means that Sony could plan on improving the functionality of PSN, features like the share button are examples of what new capabilities are being sought after. But also among the rumor list was the capability for the PS4 to be remotely accessed via tablet or smartphone, which could also be behind the premium content wall. All of this seems like more ways for Sony to improve their much needed cash flow, but it does make me concerned. As they are also supposed to bring in multi-account logins similar to what the 360 has, something that is a complete nightmare on certain games, it could leave Sony with a whole new set of problems and irate customers. Let’s just hope that if Sony is following Microsoft’s lead on this, that they paid attention to the mistakes they made, and avoids them from the beginning.

Seb: Yeesh, now this is a lot to cover. First off, a minimum of $429 for the PS4? That’s definitely at the higher end of what they’ll be able to get away with, and it’ll certainly only appeal to core gamers at first, something I’m totally fine with. I just sincerely hope that the reason for the high price is because it has really good internals, not because the new PS Eye is all fancy and costs $200 to make.

But by including the PS Eye with every console, and adding that Move-bar thingy to every DualShock, Sony have finally sorted out one of their big problems with peripherals – they always release them midway through a console’s life and not enough people buy them, so few devs support it. It doesn’t, however, sort out the other big problem with peripherals – developers have yet to show that the Wiimote/PS Move/Kinect are actually any good, and that they serve any purpose at all.

But the biggest part of the rumor is most certainly ‘PlayStation World’ – the premium service that Kotaku says is “following the path first set by Xbox Live”. Dear god. Ok, I get it, Microsoft makes around a billion dollars simply by getting people to pay for a service that Sony has to run at a loss. $1 Billion > A Loss. And the whole thing must be even more galling as being free didn’t cause Sony to win this gen’s console war. From their perspective, they just lost out on billions over the course of 6 years, while Microsoft laughed all the way to the bank.

Unfortunately, it might be too late to go premium. To many PS3 gamers are used to having things for free. Take that away and they might not upgrade. Equally, 360 owners who buy a 720 may not want to get a PS4 if it means they have to pay for two different subscriptions. I hope, above all, that online remains free. This is a must, but, unfortunately, it’s also the one thing that Sony knows will force people to subscribe.

Rather, I hope that Kotaku is misunderstanding/misrepresenting their source, and that PlayStation World is simply an extension of all that is good about PlayStation Plus. I’m thinking that PlayStation World could be the usual free games, discounts and betas, but also access to Gaikai on any internet enabled device – “Access the PlayStation World anywhere, from only $20”. This will be for the real PlayStation fans of the digital age, an ultimate subscription for those that love PlayStation and have awesome internet connections.

If Sony copies Xbox Live, and locks out players unless they pay a subscription, it will be a huge, devastating mistake. It will alienate all of those that flocked to the PS3’s free ecosystem, and will make the high launch price of the PS4 all the more unbearable. Gamers may move to PC, especially with the console-friendly Steambox, or they may even leave console gaming for good.

But if Sony copies their own PS+ model, and furthers it… It will be a shining example of what the PS4 offers over the 720, putting pressure on Microsoft to lower their fees, or risk players moving on over to the PlayStation lifestyle.

What are you doing in anticipation for tomorrow’s big event? What do you think of the rumors that are coming out regarding the price? Is $529 too much? is $429? Will Sony include a new PSEye with each system? Are any of these rumors true? So many questions, so few answers, so many so’s – So, let us know in the comments what you think, and make sure to follow us on Twitter at Seb and Dan, because that is where we usually make up rumors first.