Sony is to add a paid premium level to its PlayStation Network. Sony Computer Entertainment CEO Kaz Hirai announced that a two-tier model will see users paying a subscription fee for extra content, but confirmed -- to the relief of PS3 owners everywhere -- that online gaming will remain free.
It seems odd to mention such a scheme now, having just announced the forthcoming Sony Online Service content store. It's not been ruled out that PSN may be rolled into the Online Service when it arrives, but that could be months or even years away. Sony clearly wants to start milking its hefty base of PlayStation owners as soon as possible to improve its sickly bottom line.
Sony is already making money from media content through PSN with the introduction of movie downloads last week. Perhaps premium content could include an allowance towards movie or TV downloads, or access to newer films. Sony is keen to reassure us, however, that everything which is currently free -- including online gaming -- will remain free.
We reckon the subscription will unlock extra content in games, perhaps new arenas for online play or credit towards paid downloads. For more information, and reaction from hardcore gamers, check out our sister site GameSpot's story.