There's been a bit of talk over the alleged leaked Premium Playstation Network features, and how much anyone would actually want to pay for those services. Some people are interested in possibly getting free games, PS1 Classics, and discounts to all content. Others would prefer the beta access, and supposed user-to-user challenges that allow a bit more customization. But in the end these features are just icing on a cake, and have little to do with what being online with a console is all about.
Unlike Xbox owners most people feel that since Playstation 3 already offers free online services there's no reason for them to be charged for. Copying the things Xbox Live already does then offering a slew of useless additions won't help. If Sony really wants to start winning the console wars, then whoever is in charge of this Premium service outline need only look to a few simple things:
1. A More Intuitive Grouping System
What's the point of being online with friends if actually connecting to those friends is a hassle? There's no reason I need to go into MAG, then wait for all my friends to get onto MAG, then start playing the game. Microsoft got it right on their first try, let me group up with people. Even if the most I do with that service is talk to my friend while he's playing a completely different game as I am it'll help. Community building is supposed to be easy, intuitive, and fun. So basically, everything Playstation Home isn't.
2. More Game Content
At a point in time where DLC is starting to take over, gamers want to feel like what they're buying is really a complete experience. Many games now are simply cutting out content to make sure the game arrives on time, only to sell us the missing levels/areas/whatever later on. Even worse are the games that make us pay multiple times for the same title, by selling us content that's already packaged on the disc. It's like a slap in the face, and Sony would win a lot of points by just giving gamers some of that content back. It doesn't even have to be unique, or even exclusive content. It just needs to extend the life of our favorite games for another hour or so.
3. Be Reasonable with Pricing
Games are an expensive business, but this doesn't mean that a game related service needs to cost a lot. When I sign into Xbox Live I expect that my money is going to give me quality online service, and let me play with my friends. That's all I want, and I think the price point works just fine. If I need to sit down and weigh the pros and cons of subscribing to a service then that company has already failed. I should be able to look at the list of things it does, take note of the price, and immediately say 'perfect'.
4. Game Soundtracks and Art
It may seem random, but if you're looking to promote PSN by saying you've got exclusive content and at the same time trying to encourage use of the Playstation 3 as the only multimedia tool a home could need...well why not? Many games today have some astounding music from very different backgrounds, and coupled with art packages, maybe even a few more unique themes and you've got a really unique bonus.
The problem with offering so many different services, is that most people won't use them. Narrowing down to a list of four or five very accessible things and promoting the hell out of them is far more effective then offering a list of things I would barely use, or alternatively believe should be free. Most people are all ears when it comes to a Premium Playstation Network offer, just as long as they like what they hear. So make what we have to hear short, sweet, and simple and no doubt Sony will see a long list of people willing to give it a shot.