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Publishers decide whether to require PS Plus subscription for F2P games on PS4 (update)

Samit Sarkar (he/him) is Polygon’s deputy managing editor. He has more than 15 years of experience covering video games, movies, television, and technology.

The free-to-play MMOs DC Universe Online and PlanetSide 2 won't require PlayStation 4 users to subscribe to PlayStation Plus in order to play them, publisher Sony Online Entertainment confirmed to Polygon today.

Sony announced during its E3 press briefing Monday evening that online multiplayer gaming on PS4 will require a Plus subscription, which costs $9.99 per month, $17.99 for three months or $49.99 for 12 months.

But in an interview on the E3 show floor, DC Universe Online creative director Jens Andersen said, "We are a free-to-play game; you do not have to pay for PlayStation Plus to play [DC Universe Online]." He added that PS4 players will be able to play with their PlayStation 3-owning friends, since both versions of the game will share servers. DC Universe Online became a free-to-play title in November 2011.

A representative for Sony Online Entertainment said that the same is true for PlanetSide 2. The company said last week that both games are on their way to PS4 this year.

We spent some hands-on time with the PS4 version of DC Universe Online. The most noticeable improvements over its PS3 counterpart were performance and textures: The frame rate held up well even when there was a lot on the screen, and texture fidelity was higher as well.

According to Andersen, Sony Online isn't just using assets from the Windows PC version of the game; it's customizing them for the PS4 version, and adding more detail to faces and other elements. The studio is also tweaking the interface to reduce clutter; those changes will eventually make their way to the PC and PS3 versions.

Tramell Ray Isaac, senior art director on PlanetSide 2, told Polygon that because the MMO first-person shooter is such a skill-based game, it doesn't make sense for Sony Online to allow PC players to share servers with PS4 players. But the studio is planning to support keyboard and mouse usage on the PS4 version. According to Isaac, the content between the PC and PS4 versions will be identical, and Sony Online is exploring options like letting players carry over their leveled-up PC characters to PS4.

Update: Shuhei Yoshida, president of Sony Computer Entertainment Worldwide Studios, told Polygon that the PlayStation Plus subscription requirement is up to publishers for free-to-play PS4 games. "As far as free-to-play games are concerned, it's a publisher's decision whether they put it inside or outside of the PlayStation Plus requirements," he said.

Yoshida listed two other free-to-play titles that have been announced for PS4, Zombie Studios' Blacklight: Retribution and Digital Extremes' Warframe, and said they won't require a Plus subscription, either.