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Sony studying PSN premium subscription

But any new business model would exclude services currently available for free

Sony Computer Entertainment has denied suggestions that it is ready to start charging an Xbox Live-like subscription for the use of the PlayStation Network, underlining that multiplayer functionality, Home and other features currently free would remain so.

But it is looking closely at the idea of adding a new revenue stream into the Network model for premium content and services, according to Kaz Hirai, executive VP and president of the corporation's Networked Products and Services Group.

"SCE will further increase sales by offering users new entertainment through the combination of hardware, software, peripheral and PlayStation Network," he said in a presentation to investors yesterday. "Especially in the online area, we are studying the possibility of introducing a subscription model, offering premium content and services, in addition to the current free services."

One of the key selling points of the PlayStation's online functionality to-date has been that it is free, when compared to the Xbox Live Gold membership - for which users are required to pay GBP 39.99/USD 49.99 currently.

But the company has underlined to GamesIndustry.biz that users would not be expected to pay in the future for content and services they currently enjoy for free.

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