Sony to launch online service with PlayStation 3

Following in the footsteps of Microsoft's Xbox Live, Sony has confirmed that it will be launching a new online service with its PlayStation 3 console, which is due out in November. The service, known internally as PlayStation Network Platform, will allow users to purchase games, as well as communicate and compete with each other online. It will be available free of charge in its basic form, although users will have to pay for subscriptions for some game services and premium content. Regarding the possibility of also providing movie and music content through the service, Sony stated that its strategy would be for "more than just games." No pricing for the service was announced, although Sony may have to charge less than Microsoft considering the PlayStation 3 console's high expected price.

In related news, Sony also announced that the PlayStation 3 will be region-free for gaming. This means that games purchased abroad will work on US consoles, and vice-versa. The move is primarily designed to combat piracy, as users who desire to play imported games with current consoles are forced to resort to mod chips, which allow consoles to work with illegally copied games. Making the PlayStation 3 region-free should encourage publishers to use the Blu-ray format's large capacity to store multiple language tracks, and thus sell the same copy of a game throughout different regions. Differences between PAL and NTSC standards could still cause issues, though.

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