Sunday, 5 June 2011

PlayStation Welcome Back Program now available to all users , Xbox Live Diamond announcement expected at E3

The PlayStation Network is back, the PlayStation Store is back, and PS3 owners are happily playing multiplayer games on their consoles again. Even so, Sony is making good on its promise of free games and incentives to every PSN subscriber, and has opened the doors on the Welcome Back Program to all comers. As a special thank you, Sony has an array of downloads for PS3 and PSP gamers, all of them available to download right now.

PS3 owners will be able to select two free games to download. The list of titles includes Dead Nation, inFAMOUS, LittleBigPlanet, Super Stardust HD, and Wipeout HD + Fury. You can select the games from the “Welcome Back” section in the PlayStation Store. PSP owners can visit the same section of the PlayStation Store on their device and pick two games from the PSP version of LittleBigPlanet, ModNation Racers, Pursuit Force, and Killzone Liberation.

Sony is also giving all PSN subscribers access to PlayStation Plus for free for 30 days, just to give all of their users a taste of the services available to paid subscribers. That means even free players will be able to access online game storage for game saves, auto-downloads and updates, and more. Don’t worry – you won’t have to give Sony your credit card number to get the free 30 days – it’ll auto expire at the end of the free period if you don’t sign up for a subscription.

Current PlayStation Plus memberships will get 60 days added to their subscription for free. Paying members of Sony’s Music Unlimited service will get 30 days added to their subscriptions. But wait, there’s more: Sony is also giving PSN users 100 virtual items in PlayStation Home to customize your space or character with, for those people who actually use PlayStation Home.

In order to be eligible for the free games and downloads, you have to have a PSN membership that’s older than April 20th, the day of the initial hack. The program begins today, and runs until July 3rd, and all of the content you get – including the free games and any music you download – are all yours to keep forever.

Xbox Live Diamond announcement expected at E3

Up until now Microsoft has offered two tiers of Xbox Live service. The first is Silver level which is completely free and gives you basic access to online features and the Xbox Live marketplace. Gold membership is the paid-for upper tier that adds multiplayer, access to services like Zune and, as well as Video Kinect features.

We thought Xbox Live would stay at two tiers for the rest of this console lifecycle, but we were wrong. Microsoft is apparently going to unveil Xbox Live Diamond during E3 next week.

The new feature that Diamond level brings is the addition of Microsoft’s very own subscription TV service. With it, Microsoft will be in direct competition with other settop box service, but Microsoft has a major advantage for a new entrant due to the millions of Xbox 360 consoles already sitting under TVs in homes across the U.S.

The TV service is expected to fully integrate with the existing live sports offerings, music services, and Kinect control/avatars. It’s apparently something Microsoft has been working on for a while under the codenam Orapa. That suggests quite a healthy line-up of content from launch and on display next week.

via Pocket-lint and WinRumors

Matthew’s Opinion

If Microsoft has acquired the licenses required to offer a good range of content then this makes a lot of sense and could prove very popular. As well as good content, Microsoft will have to keep the price low. The early adopters are most likely going to be existing Gold members as the price hike above what they already pay is going to be significantly smaller than any Silver member considering it. Saying that, a TV service may draw out those Silver members not willing to pay for the multiplayer options Gold service brings.

Xbox Live Diamond will be announced at a very fitting time, too. It should take a bit of the attention away from the Wii 2, and is really kicking Sony when it is down, especially considering Sony Pictures just got hacked.

With Gold membership costing around $60 a year, how much do you think Microsoft will charge over and above that for Diamond level?

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