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Sony Invite You To FirstPlay (But First Pay) Sam's avatar
FirstPlay (But First Pay)
Following transatlantic industry protocol, Future Publishing have today revealed that a European version of their 'subscription-based interactive online magazine' will be heading to the PlayStation Network this Spring, just shy of two years after the North American version of the service, Qore, was first broadcast. Arriving in the UK during March and across the rest of the continent throughout 2010, European PlayStation 3 owners are promised access to a blend of reviews, previews and exclusive access to downloadable content.

Content is due to be released weekly, with UK episodes costing 99p a pop or £8.99 for a three month subscription, a saving of about £3, or a piece of cheap DLC if you prefer to think in Gamerville currency. The collective pockets of Sony and Future Publishing will also be lined by six premium video advertising slots per episode that will provide click throughs and deep web links to the PSN Store. The bespoke editorials will be provided courtesy of the Official PlayStation Magazine team whose content is sycophantically described by Sony as "informed, impartial, relevant" and being created "with the right production values".

Will it be gamers who ultimately benefit from FirstPlay's weekly exclusives or is the partnership between Future Publishing and Sony just a thinly veiled attempt to fill their Scrooge McDuck style money vault?

Editor Opinions
Sam's avatar

The Internet is a big old place and full of people who are just desperate to let you know what they think about anything and everything, especially when it comes to the video game industry. And do you know what? They're happy to do it for free, or at least on the off chance that you might accidentally hit one of their advertisements. It's for this reason that I thought Qore was a bad idea when it first started two years ago and it's still this reason why I think FirstPlay is a bad idea now.

The whole thing smacks of desperation. I can just see the scenario now, Future Publishing notice that their magazine sales are dropping off and decide to recreate their business model online. They rope in Sony with the lure of cold hard cash, scan in their magazine content, add a few HD videos and mention the words 'bespoke' and 'editorial' constantly to con the unsuspecting gamer into thinking they're paying for something special. As if their modus operandi wasn't blatant enough already, they then announce the show will contain six adverts every week so they can milk publishers and gamers at the same time like an ambidextrous dairy farmer.

Don't get me wrong, I think there is a place for a monetised channel on PSN, especially when you consider that the service is free and most of us quite happy pay our yearly subscription for XBL. However, for the fee they are charging I would expect to see guaranteed beta invitations, exclusive demos and possibly some unique DLC. Instead the preview video seems to indicate that the only unique content we're going to get is the occasional video of Sony made PS3 exclusives. What other publisher in their right mind would limit their publicity to a handful of gamers with more money than sense?

For me, the putrid icing on this rotten cake is that the editorial content comes from the Official PlayStation Magazine team, with the statement that their reviews are impartial akin to announcing that smoking cures lung cancer. For a long time I bought their magazine purely for the demo disc and there was a definite bias towards Sony developed and published games, both in review scores and page space. Whether the same is true these days, I'm not sure, but I wouldn't expect anything less from a publication with the word 'Official' in it.

There will probably be a few people out there who are willing to part with their hard earned cash for FirstPlay episodes, but I for one will avoid spending my coppers on the service, just for a corporate influenced insight on the Sony developed PS3 exclusives.