The Japanese arm of PlayStation platform holder Sony has spoken openly about the possibility of introducing a monthly charge to use some aspects of the currently free PlayStation Network service.
Servers and the like have running costs, and we would face difficulties if our business depended solely on the sell-and-forget model,” SCEJ's Masayuki Chatani told Nikkei.
After we sell the hardware, though, we continue to sell products such as content and services. We expect to see considerable growth in digital content, such as game download services, avatar items and the like.
We can also accept payment in a growing number of ways. In addition to single-payment packaged software, there are also schemes like monthly fees or per-item charges. I think this variety of payment methods will bring about a diverse range of playing methods, too.”
It's not the first time that such talk has raised its head, though Sony has always stated that PSN will remain a fundamentally free service.