Summary:

Functionality aside, one of the biggest differences between Microsoft’s Xbox LIVE gamer network, and Sony’s PlayStation Network (PSN) has be…

Ps3 Xbox 360

Functionality aside, one of the biggest differences between Microsoft’s Xbox LIVE gamer network, and Sony’s PlayStation Network (PSN) has been the cost: If you want to play against other gamers on Xbox LIVE, you need to pay around $50 annually for Gold service (though various retailers offer discount cards); multi-player on the PSN is free.

But in a statement to VG247, SCEA president and group CEO Kaz Hirai revealed that the company plans to launch a premium, pay-to-play service on the PSN: “We are studying the possibility of introducing a subscription model, offering premium content and services.” No details on pricing, what the premium content would include, or a launch ETA — but Hirai made sure to note that it wouldn’t be in lieu of the free service.

Sony (NYSE: SNE) is already making money through PSN Store game downloads and add-ons; the company said October was its “highest month” in terms of revenue, with downloads up 60 percent year-over-year (via Gamasutra). But adding a subscription option would definitely move the company closer to its goal of getting the games business “profitable” by 2011 (via the AP).

Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) has kept mum on how much money it makes from Xbox LIVE Gold subscriptions, but leaked documents (revealed by our own Joe Tartakoff, when he wrote for the Seattle P-I) showed that subscription revenues from Feb 2008 to June 2008 were at least $280 million.

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