E3: PlayStation Plus Details Announced

For those waiting to hear if and when Sony would start charging for their online service PlayStation Network, you can now rest easy: the pay portion of PSN, called PlayStation Plus will be an optional addition to PSN rather than a replacement.  The features offered will include access to demos early, free avatars and themes, reduced prices on games (different games for a limited time), access to full versions of games for a limited time, and more.

Full details are below, but it sounds like, at least from reading through everything, that this will put PlayStation’s network on par with Xbox Live in regards to what is being offered from a gaming perspective.  One thing that I am curious to see is what kind of games the no-time-limit free games are; I’m all for getting something for free (especially when I’m paying for the service to access them.. I guess that makes them not really free).

PlayStation Plus will cost $49.99 a year, same as Xbox Live now.

Press Release below:

Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. (SCE) today announced that it will offer PlayStation®Plus, a new subscription service package on PlayStation®Network. In addition to the current free to use existing features and services, PlayStation Plus brings value-added offerings including exclusive services and content on June 29, 2010, worldwide.  PlayStation Plus will further enhance PlayStation Network, which has recently achieved a cumulative number of registered accounts of over 50 million globally.

By accessing PlayStation®Store via PlayStation®3 (PS3®), PlayStation Network users will be able to purchase membership*1 to PlayStation Plus, providing members with new options to expand and enhance their gaming experience and enabling them to gain an exclusive set of features and content.  For users’ convenience, PlayStation Plus will be available in different subscription options of 30 days (Japan: 500 yen, Asia: HK$38), 90 days (North America: $17.99, Europe: euro 14.99) and 365 days (Japan: 5,000 yen, Asia: HK$233, North America: $49.99, Europe: euro 49.99).

PlayStation Plus features include*2:

  • Full game trial*3 – Members will have access to full versions of designated PS3® and PlayStation Network titles including PS one® Archives (PS one® Classics).  The titles on offer will be available for download on PlayStation Store for a stated period and change every month.  Members will be able to play the full version of the game for a designated period and even after the trial period expires, users will be able to continue playing the game by purchasing the game on-line*4.
  • Games – Member will be able to play the full version of designated PS3 downloadable and PlayStation Network titles including PS one Archives (PS one Classics) and minis*5 with no limit of time as long as membership is effective.  These games will become available exclusively for PlayStation Plus members at no extra cost.
  • Special content – Content such as avatars and custom themes many of which are exclusive will become available for PlayStation Plus members at no extra cost.
  • Discounts – Members will have access to exclusive discounts on designated PS3 and PSP® (PlayStation®Portable) titles.  Titles will vary every month on PlayStation Store.
  • Early access – Members will have early access to designated new game beta trials, game demos and video content prior to public distribution.
  • Automatic content downloads and updates – PS3 will automatically download and install designated game demos and game updates and also download the system software update data*6.  PS3 will automatically start up at a designated time to download content and will turn off after the download has completed.

Since its launch in November 2006, PlayStation Network continues to gain strong support from users around the world.  It offers a broad range of on-line content and services, including on-line gaming, video chat and text messaging with other PS3 users on-line, as well as access to many games, videos and comic content downloadable from PlayStation Store.  Tailored to enhance the experience for PlayStation users, PlayStation Plus will further enrich the PlayStation Network gaming experience.

SCE, with its strong lineup of entertainment content and services on PlayStation Network, will deploy various measures to provide entertainment experience to PlayStation users, and further expand PlayStation platforms.

*1 PlayStation users can purchase PlayStation Plus membership through PlayStation Store on PS3 only.  Users need to install PS3 system software version 3.40, which will be released on June 22nd, to enjoy PlayStation Plus.
*2 Content will vary by region.
*3 Expiration date will vary by content.
*4 Users will continue to enjoy games with previously saved data.  Any trophies earned during the trial will also be unlocked.
*5 “minis”  are not available in Japan.
*6 As the install requires users agreement, it will not be installed automatically.

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