PlayStation Plus has seen "significant growth" says Sony

There are 150 million PlayStation Network members but Sony still won't disclose how many are paying Plus members

At a pre-launch PS4 event in New York City today, Eric Lempel, vice president of Sony Network Entertainment and head of global marketing, gave us an overview of what PlayStation Network and the PlayStation Store looks like on the new console. During the demo and other hardware overviews Sony presented to us, it was abundantly clear that Sony is putting PSN's community and social connectivity front-and-center on PS4.

While most of the PSN functionality remains free to use, one clear difference with PS3 is that you must be a paying PlayStation Plus subscriber to access online multiplayer. While Microsoft has always required a paid Xbox Live Gold account for online multiplayer, millions of PS3 players enjoyed online gaming free of charge. Lempel explained to GamesIndustry International that, quite frankly, Sony needs the revenues to maintain and continue to improve PSN.

"There's a ton of value in the network. We've built up the network over the years and made a significant investment... and it's quite honestly hard to keep everything [free]," he said. "The network's gotten so much better and it's completely redesigned on PS4. And the investment in Plus gives the user a ton of value, so putting multiplayer in there will continue to help us build the network up for our users. It's a massive infrastructure to run this thing, and now with some of these social features there's a lot going on."

"The network's gotten so much better and it's completely redesigned on PS4... It's a massive infrastructure to run this thing"

Eric Lempel

Lempel believes that Sony still has an edge over Xbox Live, however. "What I will say is we kept everything else free to the user. So for example, we've got 11 partner apps right off the bat... that are not gated at all. This is something our competition isn't doing," he noted, referencing apps like Netflix which do require Xbox Live Gold subscriptions to use.

Lempel thinks that the investment Sony has made into PSN and PlayStation Plus has really paid off with "significant growth" on PS3 and Vita in the past couple years, helping to boost PSN accounts to 150 million worldwide. PSN is now in 59 countries and there have been 3.2 billion "pieces of content" downloaded since the service kicked off in 2006. That said, when we pressed him on how many pay for Plus subscriptions, he simply said that Sony doesn't disclose that information.

For those who do pay to subscribe to Plus, Lempel thinks those gamers are basically getting their money back right away in the form of instant game collections. "If you really look at the value you get from the instant game collection, especially if you have multiple consoles, it's an unbelievable value. Right off the bat, these two games we're giving away on day one are over $30, so it's a great deal for the user," he stressed.

A one-year subscription to Plus costs $50 and Sony also offers a three-month option for $17.99 and a one-month option for $9.99. Contrast and Resogun will be available to download for free at PS4's launch for Plus members, and while Drive Club was originally going to be available for Plus users at launch, that game will still be offered on Plus when it releases, Lempel said.

Sony is definitely doing what it can to entice players to use its services. Each PS4 retail box is coming packed with a $10 Sony Entertainment Network wallet credit for PlayStation Store, a 30-day free PlayStation Plus membership trial, and a 30-day free Music Unlimited service trial. On top of that, there's a sense in which PS4 users automatically become evangelists and viral marketers for the platform as they hit the share button on the controller to broadcast live gameplay, share clips, screenshots and more, whether on Facebook, Twitch or Ustream. Lempel remarked that viral marketing wasn't the ultimate goal of all the sharing options, but he agreed that it certainly helps get users engaged with more content. Sometimes you can't beat the value of pure word-of-mouth marketing via the community.

"First and foremost we just want to help people discover content. It'll certainly help get the word out... but the intention is really to give gamers a place to show off their accomplishments, show people what they're doing, what they like, and get them talking," he said.

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Latest comments (9)

Luke Herbert Game Designer 8 years ago
With all the incentives you get as side from the instant game collection I can see why they are seeing a significant growth.

These days I see more people with PS+ than without on my PSN friends list
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John Bye Lead Designer, Freejam8 years ago
Frankly I don't understand why anyone who has a PS3 wouldn't have PS+ these days. It's fantastic value for money, and has given me a chance to play tons of (often great) games I probably would have missed otherwise, as well as getting big retail hits like Mass Effect 3, Arkham City and Assassin's Creed III for free. I actually bought a cheap Vita recently, largely because I had a couple of dozen free games for it queued up on my PS+ account.

How Sony make any money from the service baffles me. I've only had to buy a couple of games so far this year, I've had so many great freebies from PS+.

Edited 2 times. Last edit by John Bye on 13th November 2013 2:04pm

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Rick Lopez Illustrator, Graphic Designer 8 years ago
I second everything "John" said...and I want to add that I have just subscribed for a full year. Its only 50$ and my PS3 harddrive is practicaly full because Ive downloaded so many free games, like Galaga DX, Little Big Planet Karting, Battlefield 3, jetset radio future... and then we have game discounts and then you have all the promotional stuff, demo's, specials, early access to games, etc. I probably make back the money I pay for a PSN+ account. So at least to me its a good deal. Affordable, accesable and allows you ways to save and even offset the money you paid for the subscribtion. No complaints here.
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Show all comments (9)
Adam Campbell Product Manager, Azoomee8 years ago
How Sony make any money from the service baffles me. I've only had to buy a couple of games so far this year, I've had so many great freebies from PS+.
Analyst projections of how much money they'll make from the service on PS4, (particularly with + mandated for multi-player) is quite interesting.
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James Brightman Editor, North America, GamesIndustry.biz8 years ago
@Christian, I think it's anything from free trailers and demos, to full game downloads or non-game content like TV shows or movies
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Michael Vandendriessche Studying Computer Science, K.U. Leuven8 years ago
I've been a PS+ member since the beginning. I recommend PS+ to everyone who wants to play games on their ps3/ps4/psvita. For the price of one game, you get many games every month for a whole year!

Currently playing Remember Me. While it's not the best game ever, it's still pretty cool and i'm really enjoying it. I would've passed it if not for PS+.

And since everyone who has PS+ has the same games, you'll be sure to find someone online even on older titles.
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Nicholas Pantazis Senior Editor, VGChartz Ltd8 years ago
I would like to echo the people above on PS+. It's an incredible service. As a long-time PC gamer I scoffed heavily at Xbox Live. I ultimately caved and used the service, but always felt like I was being taken advantage of. With PS+ I voluntarily subscribed, and couldn't be happier. It's the only reason I'm not disappointed with my Vita. It's also the main reason I'm buying a PS4 at launch. Indeed I'll now be getting regular free games on 3 different platforms. Sony has me locked in good.
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Klaus Preisinger Freelance Writing 8 years ago
So this news tells us, every PS3 owner has two accounts on average, or the average PS3 has had two owners during its lifetime. Sounds about right.
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Nicholas Pantazis Senior Editor, VGChartz Ltd8 years ago
@ Klaus I have 3 accounts, one for each region. I also have a friend's account on my PS3, which they may be counting as well. I also know people who created new accounts just to ditch old ones. I would be surprised if there are more than 50 million active PSN accounts (log in and use some service/game every month), but it's still good growth. Surveys and polls have shown more PS3s have been connected to the internet than Xbox 360s, so I'd say Sony is making progress, even if this number is pretty meaningless.
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