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Sony’s PlayTV update charge sets a dangerous precedent

Sony’s PlayTV update charge sets a dangerous precedent

Sony's PlayTV update charge sets a dangerous precedent

Sony has revealed it will be charging owners of PlayTV – a digital television hardware add-on available in Europe and Australia – to upgrade the system’s software.

As stated on the PlayStation Blog:

“The guys at Cambridge put a great deal of effort into this update and, unlike the previous free updates, we will be charging a reasonable amount for the new features.”

I believe this sets a dangerous precedent that could have serious repercussions for the future of updates. Think I’m being paranoid? Take a look at DLC.

It started out innocently enough – a few extra levels or characters for a few quid. Then it started becoming more sinister. Extra content that would normally be included on the disc started being ‘Premium’ content, costing you extra to play the stuff that just a few years before would have been free.

Then it progressed into how things are now – we rarely see a game released that isn’t supported by a ton of DLC. Barring Final Fantasy XIII, what big-name releases are there that have eschewed DLC? A handful at most. Then look at things like Sonic Adventure, which is charging players to unlock the sections which were unlocked for free in the original release. Not only are you expected to pay again for the game, you’re expected to pay once more for features you had the first time you paid for the game.

A spin-off of the DLC obsession has introduced Project $10, which has seen those of us (most of us) who purchase games second hand unable to actually play some of the damn things online without paying another premium to unlock it. All of this comes from the seed of DLC.

And so Sony is introducing this charge for an update – a charge for a piece of hardware that only a small percentage of PS3 owners have. It’s an experiment to see what the reaction of PlayTV owners will be. Will they revolt? Ignore it? Or just blindly gobble it up?

If it’s the latter, you’ll probably start seeing a few experimental charges levied here and there for bigger updates to add-ons. To games. To the PS3 itself.. ‘Hey, why not purchase this Premium update – with cross-game chat!’ they’ll say. ‘We know these features might have been offered for free in the past, but this is Premium so offers far more value!’ they’ll throw in.

And this is without even mentioning that many of the new features being added to PlayTV are already available on other, dedicated digital TV systems out of the box.

Soon enough, we’ll be paying a fee every time we want to switch on our damn consoles.




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  • David

    I take it that it’s a one off payment rather than a subscription. TBH PlayStation Plus has already set the precedent for having to pay for updates like these so it probably won’t make as much of an impact as it might sound. Ultimately it’s price that’ll deteremine whether or not it’s worthwhile for consumers.

  • Pionir

    I’m not very impressed that they’re going to charge for an update, especially as it’s supposedly never going to contain HD support (because the hardware can’t support the UK Freeview HD implementation) so how much can they actually add?

    Series link? It’s something that should have been present to start with and has been promised for over a year: http://blog.eu.playstation.com/2009/06/19/playtv-update/
    Updated TV guide? IMDB works fine in the browser so what’s the point?
    Social features? Great, we can spam our facebook friends with what we’re recording / watching.

    Considering no mention was made about charging for updates this is a bit cheeky to say the least. I’ll not be bothering, that’s for sure.

    If they really want to make more money, release a new bit of hardware with HD support.

  • James H

    I agree that HD support would be worth paying a bit for (although that whole scam is really annoying anyway – btw your “HD ready” TV can’t actually pick up HD???), but series link should have been added a long time ago and should be free, afterall the Sony HDD recorder we have for our other TV came with series link.

    Any idea exactly what is going to be in the update?

  • Ian Dransfield

    This post has a list of the new features:

    http://blog.eu.playstation.com/2010/08/20/playtv-is-set-to-get-even-better/

    Worth adding? Absolutely. Worth paying for? I’m not so sure.

  • James H

    I couldn’t care less about the community features because I mainly use PlayTV to record things while I’m out or which my wife doesn’t want to watch and then transfer them to my PSP to watch on the commute to work, so the only feature I would use is the series link, which would be really useful, but should be free!

  • Axe99

    At the end of the day, if it’s taken someone’s time and effort to produce something, those people need to be paid! As long as it’s an optional update, so that people can choose whether they go for it or not, then it’s not an issue. The big thing about certain ‘other’ gaming subscriptions is that without it you can’t play online at all. This update doesn’t mean that the existing PlayTV (which is excellent, and value for money) changes.

    Would any of you guys like to work for free? Other than for a charitable cause, of course ;) . Didn’t think so ;) .

  • James H

    By that logic we would have to pay for any update for anything. Do you expect to pay Microsoft for a security update? Of course not. It’s part of the service that you expect when you purchase the product. These people are being employed by a massive corporation, they’ll get paid whether or not we pay for the update, all that changes is that the profits of said big corporation increase.

    Not that I have anything against large and profitable businesses – I work with many myself – but I just think that this is yet again eroding the levels of service that we should expect and demand when we are handing over our money. In almost every other sector of the economy consumers are demanding more and more for their money (particularly in these “parlous economic times”). Why should it be any different with video games?

  • David

    Ultimately it’s a business, companies are always going to do what’s suitable for them over the consumer.

    As for the subject of HD, I didn’t buy my TV expecting to be able to pick up HD broadcasts. Freeview HD just wasn’t around then and as such it was unrealistic to expect support in the future. Furthermore it’s not Sony couldn’t really have predicted the DVB-T2 issue so it’s not their fault. I would love to see an HD upgrade and I would even preorder the new hardware since I use PlayTV a lot, but I’m not holding out much hope for a PlayTV HD until Freeview HD becomes avaliable throughout the UK.

  • Derek

    The initial release of playtv left a lot to be desired, and was not worth the £70. However knowing that firmware updates would be comming along it was worth the risk, and has shaped up a lot.

    A free update for series link, forget the chat crap, would probably keep me loyal to Sony until the new hardware comes out, but now I have to pay for it it opens up the market for other suppliers.

  • Derek

    Axe99, we payed for the promise’s implied in the literature, and didn’t get it, we shouldn’t have to pay again for somethig that was promised, Sony are renagin on the contract!

  • rippedoff

    As part of the PlayTV FreeView branding, Sony purposely hobbled a number of features to what could have been a reasonable PS3 PVR addition (ignoring the idiotic packaging of PS3 and PlayTV).

    Well, I only use my PS3 for BR & DVD playback, as a PlayTV PVR and a media hub as well as Linux computer with only occasional standalone PS3 game play. I also updated my PS3 manually, so when buying the PlayTV, i expected the same update mechanism as available for the PS3 firmware itself. That is, download the PlayTV update to a USB stick and manually update pointing to the new file on the USB stick but PlayTV doesn’t do that as you must be net connected to update! And it’s not on the list of new PlayTV features, neither is removing the FreeView hobbling or improving the DTV EPG mechanism for Australia (without adding more FreeView hobbling)!

    Needless to say, I’m stuck on firmware v3.15 thanks to Sony’s retrospect removal of other-os functionality that i had paid for (or which I will suffer BD playback issues in a few months)!

    It’s bad enough that i had to change the original PS3 HDD as PlayTV caused stuttering when playing back a recorded program, now Sony want to be paid for adding new features when the base product itself is still flawed!

    It’s also not enough that Sony already know what its customers look at on the web, what BR disk they watch, what games they play, who their friends are, and probably much more, and all this data gathering with no disclosure that such data collection occurs! Now Sony wants to know all about its customers TV viewing habits.

    All this while Sony argue in court for the freedom to remove features customer have already paid for (based on some non negotiable EULA). And if this is swallowed by the courts, expect to see Sony re-offer these deleted features to its customer base at a later date – for a fee.

    I can only say that my biggest mistake was buying a PlayTV to add to my PS3 when I should have returned the PS3 to the retailer and asked for a full refund!

    To say I’m pissed off is an understatement but no doubt some fanboy will jump in and defend Sony’s illegal behavior.

    Guess for me it’s time to boycote all Sony products.

  • LogicPTK

    @ rippedoff &
    @ Derek

    Bloody Well Said!!

  • Rob W

    They don’t publish that you have to pay for this major update on their blog posts. I have just ordered the Play TV knowing it’s shortcomings but thinking I could patch those with the new update. I will not be paying for a load of corny social networking features when all I really wnat is Series Link which should be available by default. I will be cancelling my order of Play TV now and put my money into a proper solution. This just goes to show that at the end of the day you pays for what u get. By the time I’ve forked out for the current Play TV, the fee for the update just to get the privalege of series link, the new Play TV2 hardware when it’s finally released so I can get Freeview HD, and then any subsequent updates they decide to charge for I may as well have invested in a proper solution with all it’s extra features on top – go check out the Humax HDR Fox-T2. Oh – and they update their system for free!!! Their solution will be cheaper in the end!!!

  • Rob W

    I hope that the comment about Play TV charging for their update is correct, cos they have just lost a sale as a result if it is true! My order is now cancelled! They need to learn that some updates just have to be supplied free to stand a chance of staying in competition. As a potential new customer I was horrified that I might have to pay for future updates just so I could get the features other PVR’s supply as default. Not a good marketing strategy guys! Others potential customers will follow the same route and Play TV have just lost a valuable customer base that they could do with gaining.

  • P martin

    There is a good argument. But look at it this way the cost you have paid for a recordable freeview solution when you already own a ps3 is relatively cheap. I have the update and there are quite few new additions like they have increased default recording times. So you can allow recording to start and end up to 30 mins to enure they are recorded in full. The rest are minor tweaks.
    The humax freeview recorder has so many bugs and it costs a small fortune.

  • Umercy

    Xbox fan boys here

  • SirJun

    The PlayTV 2 update is a complete rip off. Don’t do it. A line needs to drawn or else these blood sucking corporations will start charging for every update. The only reason people have paid the redonkulous £6.29 fee is to get series link, (which should have been a day one feature in the first place!)

    2 years of waiting for series link .. a feature even a budget PVR bought in Tesco has ..and Sony bundle it with unwanted social features to justify charging us for it. Sony can KMA…

    Still considering paying Sony for this update? Then read some of comments on PSN product manager James Thorpe’s Blog

    http://blog.eu.playstation.com/2010/11/19/make-watching-tv-a-social-experience-playtv-live-chat-upgrade-now-available-from-the-playstation-store/comment-page-3/#comment-117941

    Sony r the new Apple. Charging for updates that should be FREE. Sony hang ur head in shame. What next? Charging for bug fixes and patches?

    links to more reactions

    http://community.eu.playstation.com/t5/ … p/11896392

    http://community.eu.playstation.com/t5/ … 857#M52840

  • Ginger Princess

    I have playtv and paid for this update as it does do slightly more than series link, which for the one off fee I would, and have, paid for it.

    It worked fine until yesterday when playtv failed to load, after trying various fixes I rang Sony customer support.

    First they suggested deleting the game data info and reinstalling the software from the disc. Unfortunately they do not tell you this will delete all of your recorded shows.

    So I did the re-installation and sure enough lost 53 GB of recorded shows but could now watch tv again. So I ran the update to get series link etc back and – it stopped loading playtv again.

    Annoyingly after the re-installation, but before the update, the recording schedule was blank, no shows set to record at any time yet it is still able to turn on the system and record shows I had set up before it broke. Although whether they are actually recording is another story as I can’t access playtv to watch them!

    So another call to Sony, explained what had happened and what I had already done to try and fix the issue.

    The Sony response

    1. Try deleting your data and reinstalling from the disc – already tried and that doesn’t work.

    2. It’s your hard drive that’s corrupted, put a different hard drive in your console and try again, you’ll be able to watch tv if it works but you loose all of the other data on the system eg. game save data, downloaded movies/games, all your settings etc. – Whilst this may get play tv working, who has a spare hard drive for a ps3 hanging around just waiting for a fault on the system? If you upgraded your hard drive then you may have the original but if you upgraded the hard drive surely this would have been for a valid reason, like the one in the console wasn’t big enough for all your needs so you put in a larger one that was. If that’s the case why would you swap back to the smaller original one?

    3. Sony is aware of a problem with the software and are working on a patch to fix the issue. But they have no time frame for when this will be released – I asked if they could let me know when this has been released and they told me to ‘watch the forums’.

    This last part (3) is the bit that annoys me most.

    First they only revealed this information when I had questioned their other solutions to the issue.

    If they are aware of an issue and are working on a fix, why are they still allowing customers to download it and taking their money for it.

    Their first 2 solutions involved me loosing data or having to have another drive handy. Surely if they know the fault is with the software then telling people to swap hard drives is just a waste of time? Or is this the real plan, tell customers to try everything else so they can buy time to fix the problem?

    They have not released any information on their own forums letting people know there is a problem. They cannot even tell me which forum to watch for information on when the fix is released, how long this will take or how it will be delivered (software updates are normally found from an option on the menu in the playtv software, but the fault stops you from reaching this menu).

    Sony FAIL!

  • Geolight

    I’m in Oz and when I heard of the premium update and we in Australia will get with it, I was baffled, we don’t get much, most of it is for UK and Europe yet they charge us around $15 for something they should give for free anyway.

    Improvements keep coming via software so that more people keep buying the hardware. the argument that devs needs to get paid, well, they are, by more PlayTVs sold.

    Now, I decided that this is the last time I am buying Sony, I mean I like their PS3, but there are many things that don’t fully work due to DRM and management decisions and not technical good reasons. boring, though should have expected it, Sony is known for this kind of crap….

    The norm is if you buy hardware you don’t expect to pay extra for software updates and fixes. when you buy software, you are expected to pay for major new releases that have huge advances and changes and not just for fixes.

    the result… Sony is on my off list oooh and they can keep their crappy premium update and shove it were the sun does not shine……

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