Pachter on PS3 online play: Sony “isn’t so profitable that it can afford to be magnanimous forever”

The rumours of a pricing structure for PSN, and exactly what that might entail, have been snaking around the internet for quite a while now – with no official word from Sony. Talking to Critical Gamer however, Michael Pachter of Wedbush Morgan Securities seems to think that the death of free online play on PSN is inevitable.

In answer to our question regarding a paid – for PSN service, Pachter was quick to put in that he ‘really can’t say’ what Sony will do. Pachter being Pachter however he was happy to give us his educated guess, which amounted to a charge for online play on the PS3 being an inevitability:

It seems to me that online game play can bear a monthly subscription (something as affordable as $50/year)… Free online play is a good marketing tool, but I don’t often hear consumers say “I bought a PS3 because PSN is free”… more often, I hear people say “I bought a 360 because of Xbox Live”… Sony gives a ton of value for free, but the company isn’t so profitable that it can afford to be magnanimous forever.

These comments certainly allow for a ‘premium’ PSN service that complements, rather than replaces, the free one currently running. Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised if a compulsory subscription is announced for online play on the PS3, however; Michael Pachter certainly wouldn’t be…

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Written by Luke K

Luke plays lots of videogames, now and again stopping to write about them. He's the editor in chief at Critical Gamer, which fools him into thinking his life has some kind of value. Chances are, if you pick up a copy of the latest Official PlayStation Magazine or GamesMaster, you'll find something he's written in there. Luke doesn't have a short temper. If you suggest otherwise, he will punch you in the face.


  1. Pachter? What value does PSN have? There’s nothing there to warrant a subscription fee. What will the “premium” service have, because everything about PSN is half-assed. Sony tried charging for Qore, and it wasn’t enough to justify a fee.

    • funtime /

      This is what Xboys actually believe

    • D.Vader /

      Half Assed? Please, PSN doesn’t have all the bells and whistles, but it generally plays games LAG FREE.

      Cross game chat is nice, but adds more overhead to a network. Much of the features you love about XBL are likely the same features that deteriorate the performance of the network.

      Also Pachter is a bit off here. I know of PLENTY of people that got the PS3 because the online was free.

    • Raz /

      XBOX360: So…when are you going to start charging for online access? You’re kind of making me look bad. You had your fun, now hurry up and level the playing field. I’m getting a bit nervous.

      PS3: ..You probably should be.

      In all seriousness, I can’t imagine Sony will go from free to paid – but I do see them eventually offering a premium service. PSN needs a LOT of work before that starts happening though, so I wouldn’t hold my breath.

    • ((but I don’t often hear consumers say “I bought a PS3 because PSN is free”)) –Wtf is that? thats one of the biggest reasons i hear. Free online gaming is a very worthy bragging point for ps3 owners. Patcher’s got it all mixed up.

  2. Key Doss /

    PSN is awesome! 90 percent of games and content i would not mind paying for. unlike other systems charging for old tired content. The online cummunity is more mature than other consoles. futhermore is a business and they are in this to profit. so im down for it. i love my Monster Block Box…. i mean it only does…EVERYTHING lol

  3. oldest gamer /

    As if Live has anything of value that cannot be had for free on PSN. All gamers pay to play on xbox live so they can use the multiplayer component of a game they already paid for. If they didn’t pay for live, they would be ripped off buying a $70 game for no online play. The same $70 game for PS3 included online play, period. Same matchmaking, same game types, same functionality. There is a reason why the PSN subscriber list dwarfs xbox live, it is free and a very good service. In my opinion, a much better service than live will ever be.

    • Nevellin /

      The problem, I think, its the cost of everthing on PSN. Sony is probably paying a lot for this service and in XboxLive you really get something much better. People REALLY buy 360s because of Live and Sony knows it. Maybe, if they start charging for PSN, this service can grow and be awesome in some months.

      • oldest gamer /

        nice but people also buy PS3 because they will NEVER pay to play online games (myself included)

    • Wildbill /

      Xbox live has WAY more users than PSN, therefore Xbox live dwarves PSN. Get your facts straight.

      • Wraith /

        How can XBL have MORE users when EVERY PSN owner has FREE access to online and only about half 360 owners have a gold service? Last I checked XBL users did not equal 35 million users. I think it’s you who has his facts garbled.

  4. Fred /

    @ Jonah Falcon

    For someone owning a gaming website you sure are short-minded, ignorant and biased.

    “Everything on PSN is half-assed”… WHAT?

    I buy a game with online play, I get home, I put the game on my PS3 and I play online with no problems whatsoever, for free! What is half-assed on this?

    What is half-assed is gaming journalism full of idiots and fanboys.

  5. Tim slaps Jonah Falcon /

    i own 2 ps3’s
    2 360’s
    and 2 wii’s

    and guess what.. yep i love my ps3’s the most.. and yes i agree the psn free service is better than a $50/£40 a year service for 360…

    one thing i find funny about pachter is his blind love for the 360..
    he make remarks regarding the recession and that the 360 is the better choice with dealing with the high costs but i payed £50 for the adapter and another £40 for the years worth of Xbox Live… then the £229 for the Elite console..

    total = £319 for whole package for 360
    ps3 total = £249 for whole package


  6. Darius /

    I hear tonnes of people saying they got a PS3 cause internet is free, PSN is fine just needs some tuning and added features, nothing crazy and out of proportion that everyone makes it, got the premium service survey through. Some stuff sounds cool and is good as optional paid bonus. The only thing they need is a better invite system and cross party chat to be free. The premium stuff would be decent if done cheaply.

  7. Pachter, STFU.

  8. Krazyface /

    I honestly have never used xbox live as I’m too afraid to buy the console, but I’ve always thought those who pay for it were throwing their money away. If Sony start asking me for cash for a service that has always been free, I’m afraid I’d just have to give it up! I like my PSN, but the single player has always been the most importiant thing for me and unless all games go the same way as Assassins Creed 2, it wouldn’t be a big hardship for me to drop out of the online community.

    • half_empty80 /

      In deciding on getting my PS3 over the 360, free online was one of the factors. In my estimation, PSN is a great service, even more so when you consider it is free. However, given the choice between being an offline gamer and paying for online, I would go back to single player only.

  9. Jay /

    I own all three and I think that live is better than PSN… that doesn’t mean that PSN is bad, it just lacks a couple of things that I like from live but its good.
    For me the big difference is were your friends are playing, I have tons of friend with 360s so I buy most of my multiplatform, multiplayer, for the 360. If you really complain for a charge of 4 dollars a month, you should change your hobby, gamming is expensive.

  10. Tres21 /

    honetly the person who makes the most sense 2 me on here was Darius wit his comments psn isnt bad but it could def use a few tweaks here & there nuthin major but as long as they both keep addin im good, i do hope psn stays free forever or at least a core free cuz i dont wanna hav 2 pay for both

  11. BattleX /

    If I look at the speed of the network itself, and the content quality I’m enjoying Xbox Live a lot more than PSN at the moment (Hidden Bonus Feature: Less Kids).

    What most of you don’t seem to understand, maintaining and building a serverpark for this amount of users costs shitloads of $$$ and if they could settle for about $3 a month they can probably break-even or at least compensate a bit.

  12. Wildbill /

    If anything Sony should add a service that just has more benifits like live television and that new MLB app. but keep online gameing free!

  13. matt /

    Both systems have good and bad points for online play.

    most games on both systems are lagg free,
    xbox 360 more hackers and annoying kids with mics
    ps3 less hackers and less annoying kids with mics
    360 better cross in game chat
    why should you pay for online gaming anyway 90% of pc games are free to play online for example css etc,
    so why should pay for 360 online
    ps3 free online.

  14. gatormatt /

    @ Wildbill: Actually PSN has more registered users than Xbox Live simply because PSN is free. Google it if u don’t believe me.

  15. Mr.Jiggles /

    I bought a PS3 because PSN is free (and offers better connectivity than LIVE).

  16. jake m /

    You have offered nothing in the way that xbl marketplace has to offer and there store is more invitible …I’ve been sony fan for a very long time and still am but I’m very disapointed at also there is still no plastation movie store in Australia wtf ….

    I’ve heard early 2010 ya right more like 2011 again …why not offer full games instead of the psn dull boring ones eg…..

    Seriously sony needs to lift it’s game ..I will rather pay and get awsome content ,then have a free online with nothing availible on the psn store for purchase WHERE IS CROSS CHAT GAME ALSO ????????????????????????????

  17. o0RECON0o /

    maybe while your at it you should google the fact that ps3 will soon be charging for their online service, or look it up at

    • KrazyFace /

      Seriously wee man, I’d think twice before expecting to gain ‘facts’ from N4G. Anyway, shouldn’t you be under a bridge some place, freaking out small children?

  18. o0RECON0o /

    and 360 is way better and faster then sony will ever be online, but of course you wouldnt know that while you are exalting your ps3 as god… god of crap online that is. PS3=piece of shit 3, psp=piece of shit plastic

  19. gatormatt /

    @ o0RECON0o: You are the true definition of a fagboy… I mean fanboy.

  20. gatormatt /

    @ o0RECON0o: You must own stock in M$, or work for them.

  21. its_midnight /

    Sony has said it them self that online play would be free of charge. the psn would be free. that’s the whole reason why a shit load of ps3 fans (must i said millions more than xbox) buy a ps3.Sony take free away from fans then you better be prepared to get shit on by micro box. if you going to take that chance than good luck beaten micro. :'(

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