The debate wages on as supporters of both platforms argue over which online service is actually better. Playstation 3 gamers argue that PSN is the better choice of the two, offering a free online service for gamers to compete online, download the latest game demos, themes, and trailers. Recently, Sony released its optional PS+ service to mixed fanfare. PS+ is a service that offers exclusive content to subscribers before it becomes available for free on the PSN. Deals are offered on PSOne classics (usually ranging between free and $3.00), and there is also an option to play entire games for free as long as your subscription to PS+ is current.
Microsoft offers a different campaign over at the Xbox 360 camp. The service isn’t free (especially if you want to take advantage of Live’s many features), free demos are frequent, updates happen more often, and additional services like Facebook and Twitter have been added.
As a gamer, you have three choices for online gaming depending of the console you choose: Xbox Live (Xbox 360), PSN (Playstation 3), and the optional PS+ (which is more like an upgrade package to the free PSN service).
How do you decide which system and service is right for you? It really depends on your gaming habits. As a gamer who owns both systems, I find myself playing a hodgepodge of genres. Popular franchises like Call of Duty, for example, have a healthy user base on Xbox Live. If you’re into first-person shooters, you will always find a group of gamers willing to humiliate you with their skills. There is one thing that has been noticed about Xbox Live; games older than 3 weeks (which don’t fall under the COD, Gears of War, etc., category) suddenly become abandoned by the community, so if you’re a budget gamer who waits to buy his games after the hype has died down, finding online competition is near-close to impossible.
It has been argued that Xbox Live gamers will quickly move on to the next best thing because time is money. Unless the game in question is something like COD – where its community will always have a healthy pool of gamers to compete against – they feel their money is being wasted.
PSN gamers take a different approach on the subject. Since the service is free, games that are more than a year old still have a healthy balance of online competition. While it’s well documented that this game isn’t perfect, competition can still be found for SNK-Playmore’s KOFXII on the PSN, while none exists on Xbox Live. Even classics like Soul Calibur IV still have a healthy online community on PSN.
It stands to reason that different mentalities exist between the two online communities. It would seem that Xbox Live gamers – who have to pay for their service unlike Playstation 3 gamers – focus primarily on popular releases to take full advantage of their pay service. Playstation 3 gamers seem more relaxed when it comes to their gaming habits, and this could be from PSN being free. Even though you will find a large community of Playstation 3 gamers playing the latest and greatest online, the budget gamer who buys that 3-6 month old title will still find competition online.
Both gaming platforms have something to offer; we are not biased towards either console. But for the budget gamer looking for an online experience, the PSN is the better choice – only because there is still a vibrant community of gamers still playing older releases. Where the online budget gamer is concerned, this is a plus.
Mike ‘STGuy1040′ Pittaro