Sony announced this online network aimed for users of PlayStations in 2006. Included with PSN is an online store where a user can purchase online games and videos. The most basic version of PSN is free. However, a user has the option to upgrade to PlayStation Plus by paying a subscription fee. Currently, the following services are available to users of PlayStation Network and PlayStation Plus: online instruction manuals, user profiles, online IDs, user registration of master or sub accounts, PlayStation video game console warranty, friends list, instant messaging integration, lobbies and matchmaking for online gaming, multiplayer gameplay, scores and ranking, trophy system, avatars, voice and video chat, internet browser, block list, comments for display on gamer profiles, and parental control. As always, there are many more features that are available with this ever-expanding network.
An online ID is the player’s username on the PSN. These IDs cannot be changed once selected, and the system supports one PlayStation Network account per user. Each online ID can also contain avatars that are usually associated with certain games or game characters.
The trophies are the PSN’s way of tracking achievements, and were introduced to the PlayStation 3 network in July 2008. Four varying types of trophies can be awarded. These trophies are bronze, silver, gold, and platinum and issued to users for certain achievements or reaching milestones within games. A platinum trophy is awarded to a player only if he has earned all trophies underneath the platinum.
Sony has also launched the PlayStation Store, which is a shopping-based online service for the PSN. Within this online store, users can purchase items with actual currency, PayPal, or PlayStation Network Cards. The content that can be purchased is movie trailers, game trailers, game demos, games, and game add-ons. If a gamer has a PlayStation 3 or a PSP, films and television shows are also available for purchase through the online store.
PlayStation Plus is a paid subscription service launched in 2010. With a paid subscription, a user has upgraded services on the PlayStation Network in addition to the original PSN service that is available. With PlayStation Plus, a gamer can have game and system software updates download automatically to the PlayStation 3 in addition to demos. Subscribers also have early access to game betas and downloadable content in addition to a free account on Qore.
While this is only an introductory article on the many services PlayStation offers, many other features can be found by browsing around the service or reading on Sony’s website. This service has made it very easy for PlayStation owners to be more involved in their games.