A PSN ‘Gold Service’ could benefit indie developers (like Train2Game students…)

With the E3 expo just around the corner, it’s now that time of year when games industry rumours are appearing thick and fast. We’ve already heard that GTA V might be making an appearance, but E3 isn’t just an event for developers to show off their shiny new games…they also use it to reveal a variety of other games related innovations.  The Project Natal and PlayStation Move control systems are probably going to be the headliners in this department, but there are reports that an announcement about a Premium Service for the PlayStation Network will prominent on the undercard.

Now, usually rumours about this sort of thing can be labelled under the banner of ‘wild speculation’ However, this information has originated from the well-respected VG247, and as a result has been taken very seriously by the video games press. So, what’s actually going on with this story?

Well, VG247 claim that a ‘highly placed source’ says Sony is set to unveil a premium subscription gold service for the PlayStation network that will cost “less than £50 per year”.

Cynics may suggest that Sony are merely attempting to imitate the success of Microsoft’s Xbox Live Gold service, while some PlayStation gamers will no doubt have concerns that they’ll have to play for the privilege of playing their favourite games online.  Well, it seems that PS3 users have nothing to fear in that department as the report says

“Nothing planned will impact the service’s current free aspects.”

Or to put it bluntly, you’ll still be able to play, say Modern Warfare 2, online without having to pay extra. (Unless you’re happy to give Activision money for extra DLC maps anyway)

Of course, details of what this proposed Premium Service would involve are sketchy at the moment, but it’s likely Sony has something up their sleeves.

What we do know is that according to VG247, the PSN Gold subscribers would get one free PSN game a month from a choice of “two to four” every month. Their source adds:

“If you work it out, PSN games cost an average of £6-9 each, so over a year you’re basically going to be breaking even,”

For those unfamiliar with PSN games, they’re games that are bought and downloaded from the online PlayStation Store for both the PS3 and PSP consoles.  These games started out as mainly re-releases of classics from the original PlayStation, but now there are more and more independent games available from the online store. Independent games available include the highly successful Flower which has won varies titles including Best Independent Game at the 2009 Video Game Awards.

Now, with the prospect of Sony offering a ‘set menu’ of PSN games for Gold subscribers, it’s entirely possible that some of these will be independent games. So, with these games being available for ‘free’ as part of the subscription fee, we could see PlayStation users take chances on buying independent games rather than just going for something they already played and finished ten years ago.

Essentially, it’s unlikely there has been a better time for a Train2Game student to try and get into the industry. Digital downloads are getting more and more popular and with innovations like Steam, Indie Bundles and the possibility of independent games being heavily pushed on the PlayStation Network, it means there are plenty of places available for Games designers, developers and artists to demonstrate and distribute their work.

Of course, we’ll need to wait until E3 to see what Sony actually reveal, but if free independent games are part of any package then excellent news. If they aren’t then fine, it’s not a massive problem because plenty of independent games sell well on the PlayStation store. Whatever happens, the future seems very bright for the games industry and who knows, maybe in the future a Train2Game graduate will make a huge announcement at the biggest games expo of them all.

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