Sony's enhanced, subscription-based PlayStation Network plan is reportedly a successful venture.
The PlayStation Network has been a free service since launch, with users able to play online for no cost and pick and choose the content they wanted to pay for. With the launch of PlayStation Plus on June 29, 2010, Sony offered a host of enhanced services exculsively to subscribers, for a cost. According to analyst firm Forecasting & Analyzing Digital Entertainment (FADE), the service is catching on, adding to the PSN's revenue stream.
FADE estimates that the PSN earned $49.4 million in revenue during the second half of 2010, showing around 40% growth over the same period in 2009. Xbox Live Arcade brings in more revenue than the PSN, but is growing at a slower pace with just an 18% increase. The top selling PSN titles of June-December 2010 were Scott Pilgrim with 190,000 copies sold, and Castle Crashers with 143,000 sold.
Based on the download numbers of free titles offered only to PlayStation Plus subscribers, FADE believes that 100,000+ PlayStation 3 owners have taken the Plus plunge. Plus subscribers either pay $50 per year or $18 for three months, so the service could be bringing in millions in revenue in its infancy.
Plus continues to improve its offerings, recently allowing users to play Double Fine's latest downloadable title, Stacking, for free at launch. The idea of paying to receive discounts, demos you can wait a week for, and "free" games you only own until you stop paying still feels a little off to me personally, but with offerings like Stacking it does become more appealing. Maybe Sony will take some more of the edge off as it evolves PlayStation Plus in 2011.