Sony’s sudden focus on online suggests that the Japanese firm believes now is the time for online to truly blossom. “Things are going to happen very quickly over the next few years,” SCEE president David Reeves told MCV. “It’s important in the long term for us to get into the digital distribution of content.
“You have to move away from the cliché of online. PS3 will be a totally different world of network entertainment. It’s a move into a different era. It will be billable and have a full commercial model behind it.”
Confirmed features to date include video and voice chat, messaging, game lobbies, score rankings, friends lists, content download, micro-payments and in-game shops. As well as this the firm confirmed that PSP online is finally going to kick into action, with the ability for handheld users to download old PSOne games due shortly.
A crucial difference between this service and a system like Xbox Live is that Sony will be allowing licensees to connect their own game servers to the network, giving developers a far greater level of freedom.
However, at GDC this week Microsoft announced that it also intends to open up its Xbox Live network, possibly in an attempt to counter Sony’s plans.