NYT: Previews Sony's Online Plans

Today’s New York Times appears to have a preview of Thursday’s announcement. Looks like Sony’s plans are less like the 360’s LIVE system and more like the PS2’s on-line system - but with a twist. They will have some central servers and will make them available if need be.

Excerpt below.

that’s not particularly good for the PS3

But this is an improvement over what they did before, right? The PS2 “network” was basically - if you want to provide servers, go ahead. Now, they’re filling in the gaps.

Edit: I’m not suggesting that this is better than LIVE. Sony isn’t offering anything nearly as solid. I’m just saying it sounds better than what they offerred up before.

I’m not saying it’s terrible either, but man, it’s kind of disappointing.

I think subsidizing a free network is a good move. Isn’t that what EA does with the Battlefield games? I like the sound of XBL and all but I don’t see myself paying monthly for it. That said, I haven’t felt like actually getting an Xbox or a 360 yet so my opinion is mostly useless.

Agreed. Their E3 presentation made it seem they were offering up an answer to LIVE. The reality doesn’t live up to the impression they tried to leave.

I don’t see where it’s necessarily a bad thing. If the frontend application is done right, I don’t even know if the end user would notice that stuff is run on multiple servers or not. While this explains a little on how it’s going to operate, I don’t see where it gives any real information on what kind of quality you’ll get or how well integrated it all will be.

Not bad. Just not as good as I’d hoped. The beauty of LIVE is that it’s a backed system. Something goes wrong, MS is all over it to fix it and bring it back online. Also, because it’s a backed system, they can and have added new features to make it even more robust.

But at the heart of the matter, I basically don’t like the idea of MS having the on-line space with little competition. Sony stepping up and really offering more than MS for less would have been a great thing for gamers. Instead, they’re offering less for less. Granted that second less is actually “free” but still.

Sony’s XBLA alternative sounds much better though. And in that space, MS seems to be moving in slow motion.

Problem is, if there are end-user difficulties (can’t connect to server, bad ping, etc) users are gonna be screwed. Who do they go to for help? They’re gonna contact Sony who will tell them to talk to the game manufacturer… it seems like a sort of low-ball approach that’ll bite em in the butt eventually.

Let’s be realistic, you’re never going to get the full benefit of a service Like XBox live for free.

What you will get is something more akin to the PC then the PS2. Games that want to go online will be able to via a variety of methods. What the PS3 will offer in addition are basic standards such as universal login, friends, chat, etc.

There may be additional features either at launch or via system update but it will never have the infrastructure that XBL has, but then you’re not paying 50 bucks a year for it either.

I have to agree with the characterization of it being “less for less”. Not too compelling.

I can see why developers are perfering Sony’s system.

Free free free free free. Comparing this to XBL Gold is pointless. Sony is allowing free online MP, MS is not AFAIK. They could stand to at least match the features of XBL silver though.

I’m just not that big a fan of the instanced, player-hosted multiplayer on XBL versus the server-based PC experience. And it looks like Sony is giving developers the ability to deliver a more PC-like experience. If Epic wanted to put up a bunch of dedicated UT2007 servers for drop-in/drop-out PS3 gameplay (or maybe even cross-platform gameplay), it looks like they could do that on Sony’s system, but couldn’t on XBL.

I like that it’s free. I just want to be able to play online. I don’t care all that much about a lot of the XBL things.

I guess if it doesn’t work – the connection drops, games die, etc., that will be a big negative, but I’m assuming that the basic matching and launching will be ok.

Anyway, it will be awhile before I even care on a personal level since the PS3 is so expensive. We won’t have one until Xmas 2007 at the earliest, if even then. At that point I’d compare online services and use that as a purchase criteria.

I guess that’s the big question mark, and until those questions are answered, I think it’s gonna be difficult to figure out which service is “better.” While free has a lot going for it, isn’t “free and sucks” worse than “pay service?” And I’d think the level of ass-hattery would be higher on a free service than on a pay one - which gives me cause to shudder, given the level of ass-hattery I’ve heard about on XBL.

You’d think pay to play would raise the barriers to entry, but there are a ton of little bastards playing WoW. I ask you, would your parents have paid $15/mo. for you to play a PC game when you were in middle school? Mine wouldn’t.

Which developers are these?

Online players in general are asshats. I can keep track of friends, see what they’re playing, message them in game, and send and receive invites across all games with XBL. How much of those features are in Sony’s free online service?

I do agree that dedicated servers run by game companies can be very cool. Allowing you to get away from the peer-to-peer limitations of XBL. (For the love of GOD give me a good online mech game with a persistent world!) Is there anything like that in the upcoming Live Anywhere to link in PC servers to a cross-platform game?

On different podcast (1up, next gen) when developers are pressed, you can hear the warm glow when they talk about how they can’t talk about ps3 online and they are quick to defend sony without details. Plus the odd comment from developers on different forums.