The weirdness of mass-market economics, m$l vs psn.
So this is about the playstation network on PS3 vs the microsoft live(?) thing on xbox, xbox 360 for on-line games and other on-line services.
On paper it seems like a no-brainer: zero-cost on PSN for multi-player games and all of the internet based services the XMB provides vs a yearly subscription for microsoft multi-player games and all of the internet based services they provide (even those which already require a subscription?). Oh and the one you pay for is the one full of fucking adverti$ing???
M$ are totally nuts right - surely everyone would just go with PSN?
Except, once people start paying for stuff they just assume it's "better" (and i'm sure a bit of viral/illegal marketing helped that idea take hold as well) and will argue as such to their death. Apart from that once you pay for something the whole "you may as well use it" factor comes in: once paid for people will naturally want to use the paid for service rather than the free one, and network effects start to kick in and suddenly everyone is using the paid service for all multi-player games, despite their best interests taking second stage.
So it's kind of sad ... that the only way Sony could possibly counter this is by just charging for their service too - as they have with the PS4. Very few people will want to pay for both (and to be honest, you'd have to be a bit thick in the head if you did) and so it forces everyone to make a choice. This breaks up the advantage of the network effects and although some will stick to what they know and are already paying, the magic factor for one vendor is instantly evapourated. By being that insignificant bit cheaper and leaving some services free anyway (not to mention the games) Sony are instead creating a positive network-effect in their favour and thus under-cutting years of effort by M$. (Apart from in the case of the PS4 vs xbone actually creating a games machine and not a gimped water-cooler/us-only-tv/football thing).
Still, it's kinda dumb that the only way to fight a paid service is to charge as well and free just can't compete. Somewhat fucked, more than just dumb.
On a side note I did start with PS+ a few months ago myself but it was just for the games - I have zero interest in online mutli-player and don't have a PS4 anyway (SotC+Ico-HD pushed me over, although TBH I couldn't get into the former and forgot how to play the latter - even though i've previously finished it on a borrowed copy). I stopped buying games about 18-24 months ago so there's been a constant stream of good games that I never played that I thought I might one day. Many are ones I wont ever like or bother with but there's enough to keep me going for a few years already at the rate I play (and some I never even saw in the shops here at the time and certainly cannot be found there now).
Paying for this type of subscription service pretty much goes against every free software (and otherwise) bone in my body ... but for me it's not even an hours labour and less than 2 cartons of piss and in Australia it's substantially less than a single full-priced game so from a personal perspective it's pretty much insignificant. When my utility bills and rates are hitting around $8K/PA these days it somewhat changes how you think of anything under a grand (fortunately I have no mortgage, ooo-yeah!). Although with a small garden, good freezer, and a bit of smart shopping decent food is still cheap as shit here in Australia so those high costs aren't as bad as they sound - although it was a bit of a one-off, i'm currently going through a second vac-pac whole rump that only cost about $4/kg (~$2/lb). It's no $30/kg steak but it's great for curries and stir-fry (and the cat) and i don't mind having to use my teeth occasionally anyway.
The main (rather big) downside is that I can't share the games with friends.
I guess i'll see if they end up adding adverts. That is my new bug-bear at the moment: pretty much all investment today is based on something as stupid and non-producing as advertising dollars. I can deal with a certain amount but it's so overbearing now that it makes viewing the web or watching TV, well, unbearable. Google, i'm looking at you.