Sony has announced PlayStation Plus, a new online service forPlayStation 3 owners. While the features of the free PlayStation Network service will remain unchanged, Plus adds game downloads, auto-patching and other exclusives.
The premium service will launch on June 29 and cost $49.99 for one year or $17.99 for three months.
Cross-game voice chat has been requested by gamers in the past, and it’s something that Microsoft’s Xbox Live Gold service (which also costs $50 per year) already offers. Now you’ll be able to do it on the PS3 too, according to Joystiq.
When playing with a friend over the Internet, you’ll be able to switch between games without interrupting your voice chat conversation. Cross-game chats must be initiated by a Plus member, but they will include non-Plus members so long as the premium subscriber is present.
In addition to getting exclusive or early access to beta testing periods or playable demos, Plus members will be able to play some full games for up to an hour before choosing whether or not to buy them. Finally, they’ll get access to the already-launched Qore premium video series, which offers glimpses at new games and gamer culture.
Many of the new features are already available to Xbox Live subscribers, but if you want to play the Xbox 360online, you have to get a Gold subscription. The PS3 already offers basic online play without charging its users. Since the benefits are just icing, not essentials, will you spend $50 per year for a Plus subscription?
Not too long ago we got word that Google is working on a TV search project with Dish Network, and now there’s every indication the search giant wants even more direct involvement with the television ecosystem. According to the New York Times, they’re partnering with Sony and Intel in a new Android-based platform literally dubbed Google TV.
The new set-top box will allow users to surf online video from the comforts of the couch, and will compete with the likes of the Boxee Box and the Popbox we got our hands on at CES this year, the Roku set-top device, and to some extent video game consoles that have the ability to stream content from Netflix, Amazon Video on Demand, and others. Beyond straight up video, the idea is to give users an interface to access popular social sites like Twitter and browse photos on sharing sites like Google-owned Picasa on their TVs as well.
As with Android itself, Google TV will likely be an open source platform, with Sony stepping up to manufacture the first hardware that will run it — likely including both set-top boxes and internet-connected TVs. Meanwhile, peripherals manufacturer Logitech is reportedly working on accessories for Google TV devices like a remote control with a small keyboard.
The project is reported to be a few months in already, although without official commentary from Google itself the news technically remains in rumor status. Would you be interested in having a Google-based TV experience?