PS3 shows its online hand

It’s war on the next-gen console battlefield. Just as Microsoft announces its first music videos on Xbox Live, a Sony Playstation bigwig gazumps it wi

It’s war on the next-gen console battlefield. Just as Microsoft announces its first music videos on Xbox Live, a Sony Playstation bigwig gazumps it with juicy details about the PS3’s online plans.

The big news from Tokyo is that Sony will be offering a free basic service from Day One so you can play games online. That’d be an improvement on Microsoft’s equivalent Xbox Silver service, which only provides access to community features and downloads.

The online portal, which was rumoured to be called HUB but now seems to have the catchy moniker ‘Playstaion Network, will also offer other Xbox Live staples such as voice and video chat, unique gamer IDs, matchmaking and ranking.

It’s also certain to have its own version of the 360’s ‘Marketplace’. The company has confirmed the PS3 will have backwards compatibility with old games, and yesterday’s news of PSP game downloads strongly suggests an equivalent will be available on the media centre-style console.   

One area where the services may differ, though, is how the pricing works. Sony will apparently be letting games publishers run their own servers in the PNP, which means they could potentially charge fees themselves for multiplayer access and other content. Whether or not this will work out more expensive than Microsoft’s ‘all you can eat’ deal remains to be seen.

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