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Published February 7, 2015

Since Christmas, when Sony’s PSN and Microsoft’s Xbox Live got Distributed Denial of Service (DDOS) attacks and were unavailable for some time, the PlayStation Network has had several problems. I don’t know what the network was like before, but in the short time that it has been back up since that DDOS, PSN has been very unreliable. I did a quick Google search of “psn down” before starting this and what do ya know! Several news articles from the past few days detailing how users had been reporting that they had issues with PSN, including but not limited to issues with playing Destiny, and ultimately that PSN was back up after only being “intermittently available”. Not to mention the several instances of maintenance, which may or not help — if it did, would the network still be having such frequent problems?

The worst part about it is just how frequent these PSN problems are. The network being down for hours has been quite common since the hack over Christmas. I’ve had an Xbox Live Gold membership for the past few years and certainly did not have as many problems with that as I have experienced with PSN in the short time owning a PlayStation 4. The only problem I encountered with Xbox Live was over Christmas, but they quickly resolved their online issues. It took Sony several days to make PSN serviceable.

Now, I understand that you can still play games without online connectivity. However, in a gaming age where even single-player games require an internet connection, that is becoming harder to do. Games like NBA 2K15 require you to be connected to their servers to really play the game. Then there’s also the issue of people receiving codes to download digital games but then not being able to redeem those codes because the network is down.

I want to turn away from the problem itself and toward what Sony has done to make amends for their terrible online service. A couple of weekends ago Sony gave everyone a 10% off coupon for their PlayStation store. While it’s always nice to save money, 10% isn’t that much. I bought a game for $3.75 (Contrast) and one for $14.99 (Never Alone) — the savings amounted to about $1.80 with that coupon. The discount was so miniscule that I bet many people never bothered to use it. Sony also gave those who had a PS+ membership by Christmas an extra five days added to their membership. Oh boy, an extra FIVE days! This PS+ membership didn’t affect the millions of people who unwrapped their new PS4 Christmas morning.

I wasn’t expecting much from Sony — it’s not like PSN was down months. Although, a 33% off coupon and a couple weeks of PS+ for everyone would have been nice and a kind gesture to all of their new customers, myself included. However, these PSN problems have continued to the point where people should really be questioning if Sony is doing anything to improve their online network.

Maybe Sony should consider having PlayStation 4 owners not have to pay to play their multiplayer games online. I think, after the long history of problems that Sony has had with their PlayStation Network (not too mention how easily the company’s private documents and emails were hacked), that it would only be fair to let PS4 owners enjoy their games online with no additional charge. PlayStation Plus for the PS4 could become what it is like for other Sony systems — users can play online for free and a PS+ membership gives the user free game rentals (Guys, they aren’t free games — once yous top paying for PS+ you lose them. At least Microsoft let’s you keep your Games with Gold even when your Gold membership expires), early or sometimes exclusive beta access to some betas, the ability to have game patches and system software updates download automatically, and exclusive store discounts, among other perks.

Making online play free makes sense, at least to me. There’s no reason that gamers should have to shell out 50 bucks a year to play their games online if PSN is constantly having issues. I would argue the same thing about an Xbox Live Gold membership but Xbox Live rarely has issues. I definitely feel like the $60 (although, I wouldn’t mind if they reduced the price) that users pay for online play actually goes to making sure the Xbox Live servers work. PlayStation users pay $50 a year to… make sure Sony can pay their “engineers” to work on the network? I feel like because Sony allows free online play for the PS3 they should allow it for the PS4. Could you imagine if Titanfall was released just for the PS3 and PS4? PS4 players would be PO’d that they were paying to play online and couldn’t consistently play a $60 online-only game because of the PSN issues.

If Sony put more effort into keeping their online network stable and working, maybe I’d feel content with PlayStation Plus being so expensive. However, until Sony can assure consumers that their PSN actually will work for two days in a row, I’ll advocate that online play for the PS4 be free.

What do you guys think? Are you okay with the way the system is now? Wish online play was free for the PS4? Drop a comment below!

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