Sony Worldwide Studios president Shuhei Yoshida has promised that the surprise decision to charge for online multiplayer with PlayStation 4 is not a money-grabbing scheme and the money gained from it will be reinvested into the system to fund improvements.
When CVG asked him about the decision he replied, “That’s [was] a big decision, what we internally discussed and decided is that we will continue the free access to online play on PS3 and Vita, so that’s clear. But because on PS4 the online connectivity features such as second screen, auto downloads and share features – these are one big pillar of the PS4 experience and we will continue to invest in this area to expand and improve these online features and services.
“If we keep giving away online access for free, the natural pressure is that we have to cut down on the cost to provide this free service. But that’s conflicting with our goal of being able to provide very robust and great online services going forward. So we decided that on PS4, because we want to continue to invest and improve our new services, we’ve asked the most engaged consumers in the online activities to share the burden with us so that we can continue to invest.”
It was revealed during Sony’s E3 press conference that players will require PlayStation Plus to access the online features of games on PlayStation 4 similar to Xbox Live’s Gold subscription, however it will only cost $5 and includes access to Plus on PlayStation 3 and Vita, as well as numerous bonuses.
“To make the pain a little bit less we will continue to offer free content with instant game collections, discounts and early access to betas on PS4 as well,” Yoshida added.
“So at the beginning we typically picked from older games for the instant game collection on Vita and PS3, but because everything is new on PS4 we decided to make a smaller version of Drive Club with all the online features open, included in that instant game collection on day one.
“In addition to that we add one digital game every month, so they get high quality indie games as well on top of what they get on PS3 and Vita. So hopefully that makes people’s decision easy to join PS Plus.”
SCE America VP of Publisher & Developer Relations Adam Boyes has confirmed to Joystiq that free-to-play games on PlayStation 4 will not require PlayStation Plus to play online, “As far as free-to-play games are concerned, it’s the publisher’s decision whether they put it inside or outside of PS Plus.”
PlayStation 4 will launch this holiday season in Europe and North America priced at £349 / $399.