Sony Worldwide Studios president Shuhei Yoshida has defended the company's decision to charge customers for online multiplayer on PlayStation 4.
In an interview with CVG at E3, Yoshida explained the move was necessary to maintain a high quality service and facilitate improvements and expansions.
"That's [was] a big decision," he said, "what we internally discussed and decided is that we will continue the free access to online play on PS3 and Vita, so that's clear. But because on PS4 the online connectivity features such as second screen, auto downloads and share features - these are one big pillar of the PS4 experience and we will continue to invest in this area to expand and improve these online features and services.
"If we keep giving away online access for free, the natural pressure is that we have to cut down on the cost to provide this free service. But that's conflicting with our goal of being able to provide very robust and great online services going forward. So we decided that on PS4, because we want to continue to invest and improve our new services, we've asked the most engaged consumers in the online activities to share the burden with us so that we can continue to invest."
"If we keep giving away online access for free, the natural pressure is that we have to cut down on the cost to provide this free service"
During its E3 press conference Sony revealed PlayStation 4 owners must subscribe to PlayStation Plus for $5 a month to play online multiplayer and access a number of additional benefits.
"To make the pain a little bit less we will continue to offer free content with instant game collections, discounts and early access to betas on PS4 as well," Yoshida continued.
"So at the beginning we typically picked from older games for the instant game collection on Vita and PS3, but because everything is new on PS4 we decided to make a smaller version of Drive Club with all the online features open, included in that instant game collection on day one.
"In addition to that we add one digital game every month, so they get high quality indie games as well on top of what they get on PS3 and Vita. So hopefully that makes people's decision easy to join PS Plus."
During the press conference Sony confirmed PlayStation Plus memberships will carry over to PlayStation 4, so current members will have access to all of the benefits across PS3, PS Vita and PS4 for one price.
Sony later confirmed in a Tweet that PS4 users that aren't Plus members "can still enjoy single-player games and access to media services won't require Plus".
PlayStation 4 will launch this Christmas in Europe and North America for 399 USD / Euros or £349 GBP. A free PlayStation Plus version of Drive Club will be available to Plus subscribers at launch.
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