PSN And Live Subscribers: Dead Heat
Over the past year, most analysts have projected that Sony's PlayStation 3 will eventually catch Microsoft's Xbox 360 in terms of overall worldwide sales. At this point, with the gap narrowing throughout many months of 2008, it seems almost inevitable. However, if you want another example of the PS3's rise, check this out:
Microsoft's John Schappert spoke at the Tokyo Game Conference this year, and during his keynote, he announced that Xbox Live had reached 14 million global subscribers. Now, only a few months later, Sony has revealed this exact same number for the rapidly growing PlayStation Network! That's right, to celebrate the PS3's birthday over at the official PlayStation blog, they say the Network now sees 14 million active accounts. Now, the differences here are clear: you do have to pay for the Live membership and it takes no effort whatsoever to sign up for the Network (it's free). Therefore, logically speaking, one has to be more assured of playing online with Live if they're going to spend the money. For many PS3 owners, signing up could be an afterthought and they never spend much time playing online at all. Sony also revealed that 273 million pieces of content have been downloaded from the Network, but they didn't say how much of that content is free, and how much holds a price tag.
In this way, one can easily make the argument that the numbers don't tell the whole story; that Xbox Live remains far more active overall. However, here's the other point: numbers don't lie. If it's 14 million vs. 14 million, that's the same number of people who could feasibly go online with each system. And with the Network looking much better than it did two years ago, and with PlayStation Home around the corner, and factoring in that it's free...well, could Sony put a dent in the 360's bread and butter? Or have they done so already?
11/19/2008 Ben Dutka