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PS3 Online Service -- the details we've wanted for a year

We just know that everyone's been asking "PS3's online service... how's it work?" among other, less kind statements (but still thinking about the same thing). Well, quite a few people have sent in this tidbit of filet-mignon-quality information. Let's start with more general statements, then we'll attack the actual online service and how it works. Let it be known: "the PS3 is designed from the ground up as an online device - unlike the PS2, which suffered from a number of major problems on that front" (but the PS2 service had more active members than XBox Live! Of course, that was from the sheer number of PS2's out there...). Read on, noble warriors, and see the magic that awaits you in November...
  • PS3 has a fully upgradeable OS -- like the PSP, which we'll compare the PS3 to a few more times...
  • In comparison to the PS2's service, now there's a big hard drive, even on the lower end model. That's good.
  • "The PS3 will support multiple user profiles on the console - so when you turn it on, you select your own profile, and you're instantly logged into your own PlayStation Network account as well as activating all your own settings for the system. If you share a console with multiple different people, or if friends come around to play often, this is an incredibly useful feature."
  • Complete web browser! You can even use bookmarks and such. That's handy if you want to, well, browse the web.
  • There is a Master Account and an Associated Account -- Masters can limit the other accounts to the amount of time in the Playstation Store, among other things, probably.
  • It's easy to sign up for an account! Easy is good.
  • Many argued over the "free online" announcement. Let's just quote the article. "Oh - and it's all free, too. The only place you'll be asked to fork over a penny is when you purchase something in the PlayStation Store - all of the online services, from sign-up right through to voice and video chat, are free, as is normal multiplayer gaming." Awesome.
    • In the same vein, "the only things you'll pay money for are paid-for downloadable content, or subscriptions to premium services like massively multiplayer games."
  • Texting is easy and more intuitive than the on-screen keyboard other services may use (like the original Phantasy Star Online for DC). Also, voice and video chat! Hooray! Now when you get fragged by an 8-year old calling you a n00b, you can see the little snot's face and commit it to memory. If you know what we mean.
  • "It's worth noting that the system does show you friend sign-ins and new messages received in overlays on top of the game you're currently playing - just little notification windows which pop up to tell you about something happening with your friends list." Hopefully it can be turned off, too... unless you like random pop-ups while in some sort of intense match. Also, Phil Harrison says an OS update may make it possible to pause a game to check messages and such without signing off of the game... if users desire such an option.
  • The PlayStation Store is your central hub for managing downloads, premium services, shopping... everything. Heck, if you wanted, you could probably put in an internet order for pizza and never, ever leave that seat.
    • The store doesn't use an arbitrary, sneaky "points" system. All is in your local currency.
    • There will also be homebrew titles to check out and download, such as fl0w. You'll also be able to download any "classic" PSX and PS2 titles you may have missed out on... as well as some PSP games.
    • Rumors are that soon enough, you will also be able to download music and movies from the store, what with Sony being a giant in both of those fields.
Goodness gracious... this was just the information we thought was important! Read the article! It's quite refreshing to know that they haven't just tossed something together. This sounds pretty solid and if it's any indicator, the OS updates will just make it better. What do you guys think? This is a viable competitor for the XBox Live, is it not?

[thanks to everyone who sent this in! Also check out Joystiq's take on this info!]

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1. One major thing this is missing that Xbox Live has: In-game messaging. Say you want to send a message that says "come join" or whatever you like to say to your friends, you have to quit your game forget what you were doing just so you can talk, and then boot up the game again. And if they reply, you've just got to quit again...and so on. Unless you decide you'd rather spend your time in the main menus waiting for a reply instead of playing games. And if it doesn't have that, it won't have chat across all games - another awesome feature of Xbox Live. And the list goes on of what it is missing. So Xbox Live will be better - but we already knew that. And if you say it will get better with updates, so will Xbox Live - another update is coming in November, so by the time the PS3 is out Xbox Live will be even FURTHER ahead. And yes, I am a Xbox 360 fanboy. No need to point out the obvious.

Posted at 3:56PM on Oct 14th 2006 by hot zizzy 0 stars

2. ill believe all this when i see it but whatever i am not one of those people that lives for online so i could care less, im still buying the ps3 with or without a good online strategy/service.

Posted at 4:03PM on Oct 14th 2006 by dudeugotnochanceinhell 0 stars

3. Like the first poster pointed out, XBL on the 360 has a HUGE advantage in that it can multitask a lot better. the PS service does not have that ability, because Sony doesn't want to allow for it. While the cell might be able to do it (I think that the cell can multi-process in a similar way to how the triple threaded core of the 360 does), Sony has not implemented it yet, and that is a major downfall.

Posted at 4:15PM on Oct 14th 2006 by dragonjoe 0 stars

4. Keep your panties on guys; PS3 aint even out yet, and, the firmware is upgradeable..so, im not worried if a few xbl-like functions are missing at the outset.

A huge plus for me is the built in browser..which MS cant seem to do on 360 after a year on the market.

Posted at 4:23PM on Oct 14th 2006 by Caramella Bongo ... how are you today? 0 stars

5. fl0w isn't homebrew. PS3 will support Flash homebrew just like PSP. I also expect some kind of C++ homebrew support just like PS1 and PS2.

Posted at 4:58PM on Oct 14th 2006 by ps3fan 0 stars

6. im not buying the ps3 for homebrew, and i know i am not alone on that because $600 plus so i can boast about flow is just embarrasing

Posted at 5:03PM on Oct 14th 2006 by dudeugotnochanceinhell 0 stars

7. Free, FREE You xboys can keep paying your monthly fees


Posted at 6:09PM on Oct 14th 2006 by Richard 0 stars

8. In response to Richard:

Like they say, if it's too good to be true, it probably is.

I'm thinking though Sony is probably hoping people jump on downloading content they have to pay for online to help subsidize their online gaming expenses. Also, maybe some of the features that are missing now in comparision to Live are missing because of the cost incurred that isn't being funded by any other way.

Posted at 6:28PM on Oct 14th 2006 by portorikan 0 stars

9. FREE.......eat that xbox fanboys......

Posted at 6:34PM on Oct 14th 2006 by Carnie 0 stars

10. I'd like to know when the article was written, because I imagine that many features not even discussed in the article will be implemented.

Posted at 7:10PM on Oct 14th 2006 by cheese 0 stars

11. @ cheese -- the original article was posted Oct. 13th and I wrote this up earlier today... as for other implementations, we can only hope. If not out of the box, I'd expect an OS update by the end of the year.

Posted at 7:29PM on Oct 14th 2006 by ndoerr 1 star

12. ndoerr, yeah. Updates for PSP have been pretty good, and I expect they'll be better with PS3. Initially the online component will be nice to have but I'm sure it will evolve very quickly in the first couple quarters. I've had the 360 for almost a year now and not really any vast improvements, frankly. Only now is there a cam for the 360 and there are barely any games that support it, but I hardly consider a cam a must own peripheral.

Posted at 8:13PM on Oct 14th 2006 by cheese 0 stars

13. #4 got it right, Im tired of people bashing sony, you cant bash something that you havent seen. The online service will be fine and if not then its upgradeable. PS. (The point system IS a sneaky tactic)

Posted at 6:24PM on Oct 14th 2006 by pkilla 0 stars

14. X-360......6+ million sold
PS3........0 million sold


Posted at 11:34PM on Oct 14th 2006 by murc 0 stars

15. yea everything will b in the updates, so its ok if a few things are missing at first.

Posted at 2:01AM on Oct 15th 2006 by JonSt.Fu 0 stars

16. i was one of the many who sent this in to ps3fanboy and joystiq, and it's funny to see the different takes on reporting it.
joystiq pretty much dismisses everything as old news that everyone already knew and decrees it as an unviable online solution that sony will fail to actually implement and blame on the game developers. (big surprise!)

in fact, it sounds like sony will actually have a pretty decent online service this time around but until we get a chance to use it there's no point in trying to compare it to xbox live. i could be totally off on this, but i think the reason we haven't been hearing much about it could be because sony doesn't want to tip their hand to microsoft just yet. live is getting an update this tuesday and i 'd put mony on the fact that if microsoft had all the specs on sonys online strategy they'd do their best to implement anything sony had going for them into a live update on or around the ps3 launch in order to detract from their service. as it stands now, sony knows all about what live has to offer and can do their best to match or try to exceed that service.

Posted at 3:02AM on Oct 15th 2006 by get over it 0 stars

17. I think alot of what Joystiq and xbots in general are not thinking about is that the online web browser could probably be used to access game websites and there would be game-specific features that could be accessed or checked out. Bungie runs stats for Halo games on their site, but you have to go to a computer to check it out. Not so with PS3. In fact, I would not be surprised to see the web component translate into web-page based server browsers or for access to other game-specific functions while in game. These of course are just ideas, but nevertheless...

Posted at 11:04AM on Oct 15th 2006 by cheese 0 stars

18. While I respect both systems, I admit I lean towards Microsoft. They tend to be more straight forward and honest about what the user is getting in a console. This sounds like the Guild Wars/WoW debate of the past. Guild Wars boasted a WoW-like experience for free. This was not the case. As fun as Guild Wars was, it couldn't compare to the streamlined play of WoW. Blizzard had cash flow to pay developers to make updates out the wazzoo. I am not a WoW fanboy, believe me. I own both games, and play both games just as frequently, which is...never.

My point is: Boasting that it'll have the same experience for free may be just Sony playing their chips before they get their hand. It could be fun, but the support won't be the same.

Posted at 11:36AM on Oct 15th 2006 by Zac LaCombe 0 stars

19. PS. the point system is only sneaky is you have the inability to READ.

Posted at 11:38AM on Oct 15th 2006 by Zac LaCombe 0 stars

20. Predicting the support for free online play on PS3 will be crap compared to XB live is like saying the original Xbox gameplay will suck compared to the PS2's (prior to the xbox being released). Online play for Xbox 360 is not all wine and roses. Saints Row is virtually unplayable online, compared to other games that play excellent. I thought Xbox Live was supposed to alleviate such problems? Sadly it is not the case.

Posted at 12:46PM on Oct 15th 2006 by cheese 0 stars

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