Sony (NYSE: ADR) announced that it is increasing the price for its PlayStation Plus memberships. Effective September 22, 2016, membership prices will increase to $59.99 in the U.S. or $69.99 in Canada for 12 months, or $24.99 in the U.S. or $29.99 in Canada for three months. The monthly plan price will remain at $9.99 in the U.S., but increase to $11.99 (Canadian dollars) in Canada. For current members, the new prices will go into effect on their renewal date. The annual rates represent a $10, or 20 percent, increase.
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“PlayStation Plus strives to enrich your PlayStation experience through a world-class service built for our fans. This marks the first time that PS Plus membership prices will increase in the U.S. and Canada since the launch of the service in 2010. The new pricing reflects the current market conditions while enabling us to continue providing exceptional value to our members.
As a member, you will continue to enjoy the benefits and features that enable shared experiences, such as online multiplayer, free games, and exclusive discounts. You will also continue to get exclusive benefits such as online game save storage and discounts across the PlayStation digital services.
If you do not wish to continue your subscription, please be sure to cancel it by turning off auto-renewal in your account settings before September 22, 2016,” said Greg Lewickyj in a blog post announcing the change.
Interestingly, this announcement wasn’t made in a separate blog post, said Gamespot. Instead, the announcement appeared as an update to a July 27 post titled “PlayStation Plus: Free Games for August 2016.” Select games are free to PlayStation Plus members. Members can also play online with other gamers, get exclusive deals and discounts, and utilize online game save storage. It is not known how many PlayStation Plus users there are in the U.S. and Canada, but as of fiscal year end 2015, PlayStation Plus had 20.8 million subscribers, according to a Sony report.
Legit Reviews called the handling of the price hike “underhanded” in an August 23 post. Some took to social media to complain about the price hike:
Rob Williams wrote a blog post for TechGage where he ranted that he has always disliked Microsoft and Sony’s requirements to have a paid subscription to play games with their friends online. He called the price hike “ridiculous,” and said the free games aren’t a sufficient incentive to subscribe.
Despite the fact that this is the only price hike in the U.S. and Canada since the launch of the subscription, clearly, fans are not happy and we haven’t seen any damage control on the part of Sony to address players’ concerns. Could this cause higher-than-average churn, starting next month? Could Sony have handled the announcement better? We say “yes” on both counts.
We always encourage subscription companies, no matter their size, to be open and transparent about their terms, including their pricing and auto-renewal policies. Sony should have made a clear announcement about the increase, rather than burying it in a blog post on a completely different topic, and it should have notified individual subscribers personally about the rate increase. By including the information matter-of-factly in an update to a previously published blog post, Sony has likely alienated some players. If the price doesn’t cause them to balk, Sony’s handling of the price hike might.
Make sure your subscription company follows best practices for price increases and knows the law about auto-renew subscription plans and offers. Sign up for our free webinar, Know the Law: Auto-Renew Subscription Plans and Offers, on Wed., Sept. 21 with Lisa Dubrow, Esq. and our publisher Kathy Greenler Sexton. We’ll cover placement of offer copy, auto-renewing subscribers or members, trial offers, raising prices, cancellations and more.