With Sony scaling back some of its operations and cutting 10,000 employees from its global workforce to deal with one of its biggest losses in history, analysts are guessing that the company may change the way it does business in the gaming space. Some are even going so far as to predict that the nature of PlayStation Network may change in the wake of the company's big changes.
"I think it's unlikely that they will require a fee, but think they will strip down the free version to multiplayer and not much else in order to encourage people to pay the fee," Wedbush Securities' Michael Pachter told GamesIndustry International.
Billy Pidgeon of M2 Research agrees with Pachter.
"Providing networked services for online gaming is not inexpensive, and charging for these services would help Sony defray those costs," he said. "I think Sony would best benefit by continuing to build out on the currently employed freemium model, charging for enhanced, tiered and incremental items, services and add-ons to add value to the online gaming experience," he tells GamesIndustry International. "The PlayStation Plus program provides great incentives for subscribers, and Sony can get more revenue from advertising, item transactions and specialized services to enhance specific aspects of online gameplay such as custom content and rules for use for individuals, guilds and other groups. Sony should also move quickly to shift paid content other than gaming to the network."
Pidgeon added that Sony will need to beef up its network entertainment offering if it wants to compete with Microsoft's Xbox Live.
"Clearly Sony reporting their biggest loss ever is not good for any divisions of the company, including SCEA. Sony's culture has created a lot of animosity between the various divisions of the company," Asif Khan, CEO of Panoptic Management Consultants tells GamesIndustry International. "If the company had a more synergistic culture I don't think Sony would have faltered as badly as they have. SCEA would be better off as a spun off company, but Sony would not as SCEA has some of the best margins and earnings growth in the entire organization. If I had a chance to impart any advice to the new management team it would be to stop making so many products. Streamlining their product line would lower costs and in turn help out their profit margins, which have been downright atrocious."
IDC research manager Lewis Ward thinks that "a version of the PS4 will be 'baked' into a high-end Bravia TV set."
"My thinking is that a PS4-Bravia combo along these lines would be something unique that Sony could certainly build, it would likely be an especially efficient use of production resources, and that savings could be passed on to customers. They'd get a PS4 for an incrementally higher price than the cost of a high-end Bravia HDTV," Ward commented.
Ward notes that this offering would be "a specialty SKU" because of the long life cycle of televisions.
Source: GamesIndustry International