President of Sony Computer Entertainment Europe, Andrew House, has confirmed in an interview published on the Playstation website that a premium PlayStation Network service is coming to the PlayStation 3, with details expected "soon" - likely at next month's E3. House also confirmed that the current PSN "as you know it" will remain free and unchanged.
The confirmation comes via an article published on the UK PlayStation site, where the SCEE President answers questions posted on the official PlayStation forums. Answering a question about whether PSN will become a paid service like Xbox Live, House said "I can assure you that the current PSN as you know it will remain a free service. It is something that our competitors don’t offer and something that shows our loyalty to the PlayStation Community."
He then went on to explain, citing comments from Sony boss Kaz Hirai, that the company is currently looking at introducing a premium service "to sit alongside the current free service." Speaking to CVG late last year, Hirai said that they were "studying the possibility of introducing a subscription model" which would be "in addition to the current free services."
According to a report from Joystiq, the new service is going to be called "PSN+" and will give subscribers access to a rotating list of PSN content such as PSP Minis, PSone Classics, exclusive DLC content for games, discounts on the PlayStation Store and "first hour demo access to full retail titles." The report also says that subscribers may get additional warranty protection for their PlayStation, access to the much desired cross-game voice chat, a cloud-based saving system and the ability to auto-patch recently played games.
Although Joystiq's source speculates that the service will cost $9.99, there is unlikely to be any details until E3 2010 in mid-June.