A look at Sony’s Qore

The PLAYSTATION Store update early Friday morning brought us some treats — we were able to get demos of both Battlefield: Bad Company and Sid Meier’s Civilization Revolution, and we are now able to purchase Wolf of the Battlefield: Commando 3 and Novastrike for ten bucks a piece. While we are used to getting demos and fully playable titles, Sony’s online magazine of sorts, Qore is also available.

Qore is like the new PlayStation Underground. For $2.99 per episode or $24.99 for a yearly subscription, we are privy to getting “exclusive” demos, interviews, wallpapers, themes, and the PSN game Calling All Cars. Also, as an added incentive, if you buy the yearly subscription, you are guaranteed a spot in the SOCOM: Confrontation beta when it’s released. I myself am a huge Sony fan, and I have high expectations for their endeavors. But I must say, they are taking it a bit too far this time.

Qore in and of itself, is a great concept. It’s like having an interactive television show on your PS3 every month. The problem is simple. Why are they making us pay for this service? PSN delivers everything Qore is offering every week for free. It’s hard to imagine a good reason to pay for a demo. Themes can be found all around the net, or you can create one yourself. The PlayStation Blog has a post instructing on how to do just that. Sites like GameTrailers or Gamevideos provide ample gaming videos for free. They can be viewed immediately, and downloaded much quicker than using the PS3. It seems the only real reason why anyone would purchase this is for the SOCOM beta.

The invitation to the the beta is the only real selling point. Chances are there won’t be another beta released every month. The only thing that is left is the content you’re now paying for when it used to be free. This method is different from purchasing or pre-ordering a game from retail in order to get exclusive content. You can always fall back on the fact that you bought a game at the normal price, and whatever extra item you receive is basically free. We’ve seen this recently with the Metal Gear Online beta. Pre-ordering the full game got you a spot. It was a blast to play, and it made players feel like they were apart of something special. Some magazines come with special discs with bonus content on them too. The magazine still costs the same amount regardless of the disc. In the old days, this was the only way to obtain these extras. Something similar could have been done with SOCOM, but Sony felt they could cash in by making Qore the only way to be invited.

Earlier in the week, it was announced that Sony teamed up with IGA Worldwide to bring in-game advertising to the console. Whether it’s related or not, Qore also has ads within it. While you are able to skip through the six minute Hulk trailer, you cannot skip through the other ads that come up when you want to view other content. If the service was free, ads would be acceptable because it has to be paid for somehow. Since it’s not, it feels like we’re paying to be marketed to.

A possible solution to this is to provide tangible material to subscribers. If you must charge a fee, throw in some cheap swag. PlayStation Underground used to send me CD cases, pens, and demos, and I didn’t pay a dime. The same can be done with Qore. At least then it will feel more like a club. That’s just my opinion of course. I know I’d hate it if a demo for Mercenaries 2 was only available through Qore.

So what do you think? Is Sony nickel and diming gamers with Qore? Maybe there’s some arguments and/or solutions that I haven’t thought of.