Is it time to start charging for the PSN?

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With the recent news of the LittleBigPlanet servers being shut down and the complete debacle that was the SOCOM beta we have to ask the question…

Is it time to start charging for use of the PlayStation Network.

Anytime the question is asked people point to the Xbox 360 Live network failing as proof that the charge model is not flawless and granted it isn’t but it also needs to be mentioned that Microsoft partially refunded people for the inconvenience by offering them a full Arcade title for free.

What can be pointed to is the regular pattern of online play issues through the PS3. The list is growing rapidly of big name games that have brought the PSN to it’s knees, a list that now contains Metal Gear Online, LittleBigPlanet, SOCOM, GTA IV and many more.

The problem here is that Sony expects the publishers or developers to stump up for their own servers and you can ask any IT Manager in the world and they will tell you that the accountants are never convinced that you need that much power, that is until the servers crash and you start losing money.

The way that Microsoft handles this is by having a huge server farm entirely dedicated to Xbox Live that can handle surges in load by automatically turning on new servers and shifting load from one machine to the next, so while a game may only be using half a server for most of it’s traffic if it suddenly needs the power of 30 servers these can be brought online in a matter of minutes, or maybe hours, and the load can be handled. 

But all of this costs money, a lot of money and you cannot honestly expect Sony or the developers to fork out this much money for a “just in case” scenario. However if they were charging R10 ($1) per month they would almost certainly have enough money to create a decent server farm and compete with Microsoft on an even platform.

Until this happens the PSN will always be playing second fiddle to Microsoft’s network and will always be susceptible for being taken down.

Thankfully LittleBigPlanet is now up and running again and hopefully with enough protection this time for when the game actually gets released… though to be honest I wouldn’t be surprised in the least if the servers come down again when it gets released in Europe and the rest of the PAL world.

Last Updated: October 29, 2008

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