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Online play behind a paywall? Say it ain’t so, Sony

Yesterday news broke on Kotaku that Playstation Plus would be rolled into a new service called ‘Playstation World’ (or World of Playstation, depending on who you talk to) which would like include new services like the not-so-mysterious Playstation Cloud. The bombshell in this news, of course, was conjecture that online play – something that Sony has stridently kept free for two generations – would go behind this paywall. At first I didn’t believe it.  I mean could Sony be this dumb? It’s a quick and easy buck, sure, and we all know that Sony needs as many bucks as it can get… but surely they have to understand that there is a growing number of people who flat out refuse to pay for online play.  And with the advent of phone, tablet and possibly a Steambox, all with free online play (not to mention the Wii U) that people may just turn away from console gaming entirely as it’s become far too expensive.

So bummed as I was I reached out to just about everyone I know in and around the industry, which isn’t very many people – of course – I’m just a fat dude ‘enthusiast’ from the east coast… but I have made friends over the years.  They all came back with the same answer.  ”It’s happening.”

The thing is that this doesn’t affect me personally. Like 94 of the 100 people on my friends list, I already have PS+.  I have no plans on dropping it. So online play being wrapped into it won’t affect me or any of the people I play online with. And I presume it’s this thinking that Sony is banking on from keeping this from turning into a PR disaster. But what they seemed to overlook is that even though it doesn’t affect me *personally* it still pisses me off. I have a hunch I’m not alone.

There are many things about the videogame industry that are infantile and that includes its fans  – and with that, me.  I don’t like Microsoft. This doesn’t have as much to do with the Xbox as it does the way they stronghanded and stole their way into OS dominance. But I hate them. I just do. And I have a podcast where I spout off at the mouth like a petulant child. And one of the things that makes me foam at the mouth the most is the fact that Microsoft charges for online play.  I MEAN HOW IN THE WORLD CAN YOU CHARGE FOR ONLINE PLAY THAT IS MOSTLY HOSTED ON YOUR OWN INTERNET CONNECTION! We aren’t idiots, we know the vast, vast majority of these games are peer-to-peer and they ones that aren’t, like Battlefield 3, have servers provided by EA and not MS or Sony.  Sure, Sony and MS do have infrastructure in place to handle things like friends lists, matchmaking, etc and that costs money. But they are also making money by having those things, so adding a charge on top of it seemed greedy.  It made me rage at Microsoft.

So now, come this fall when I get home with my PS4 after getting shot at in a Walmart parking lot I’m going to pay to play online with my tail between my legs. My stupid fanboy defense of Sony’s shoddy online infrastructure at the start of this generation will now be statements I’m *EMBARRASSED* to have said. Most rationale people will tell me, rightly, that I’m an idiot for having said that stuff in the first place and you can’t put faith in a corporation to follow your ideals.  And they are right, I was an idiot and there’s no reason for me to feel like Sony was my ‘friend.’  But, Sony Corporate – is this how you want your most valuable fans to feel?  Embarrassed?  Is our reward for spending 6 years saying “Yeah but the PS3 has free online play, like it should be!” eating a giant pile of crow?

It’s insane that I even feel this way. I’m a 35 year old man embarrassed about what I said about a videogame. And I have a feeling that even putting this out there is just opening myself up to “U MAD BRO?” and other lame trolling attempts.  But I don’t think I’m alone in feeling this way. Like I said before, I understand that Sony needs to make money… but please, for sake of the infantile internet and the grown infants like myself that take part in it, don’t do it at our expense.

This is probably the stupidest thing I’ve ever written.

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