Post E3: Sony's Networking Strategy update
In addendum to our previous story regarding Sony Computer Entertainment America's Broadband Strategy, several new facets of their overall plan have recently been disclosed.
RPGfan recently reported SCEA's plan to ship their Networking Adapter for the Playstation 2 in August 2002 for a retail price of $39.99. The Network Adaptor will provide 10/100Ethernet connectivity as well as provide a 56KV.90 analog modem for narrowband users. SCEA does not have any plans to release the PS2 HDD in North America at this time.
The Network Adapter will ship with a bundled disc which will consist of start-up instructions, a product manual and documentation. The disc will also house connectivity selections through major ISPs (Earthlink, Prodigy and AT&T WorldNet among others) as well as providing product registration options for those without existing online connections. The bundled disc will also include online game demos, though specific titles have not been disclosed.
SCEA states that they will not have a subscription fee for any first party online software, though 3rd party publishers will be responsible for housing their own server content, as well as governing what subscription fees, if any, will apply.
What does this mean? Essentially, subscription fees for 3rd party online gaming will be determined by the software publisher, not by SCEA. Most MMORPG's for the PS2 will be expected to carry a modest monthly subscription fee. For those unfamiliar with online gaming economics; online subscription fees cover costs such as server maintenance, information security, technical support and software improvement.
RPGfans who may bellyache at the cost of paying monthly to play a title like Final Fantasy XI should remember that their subscription fee is used to keep the game's servers running smoothly, keeping their character information safe from hackers, and investing in the future enrichment and expansion of that newly established online world.
SCEA's approach to online gaming is similar to that of the PC industry, but fundamentally different from Microsoft's vision of a unified, single-subscription, online gaming network for the X-box.
Contrary to rumor, SCEA has no intention of abandoning stand-alone software for online games. MMORPG's will simply be a new option for RPGfans, not a replacement. Their open developmental model for online gaming allows third party publishers to decide the extent of online content, if any, for their titles. SCEA firmly sees the Playstation 2 as the home of great online and offline titles.
Only time will tell which strategy will emerge triumphant, but one thing is certain: RPG's will be a much more deciding factor in the broadband wars than they were in the console wars.
Very special thanks to Alyssa Casella, PR Specialist for SCEA, for providing us with further information regarding Sony's Broadband Strategy.