Sony may now advertise that it has 17 million registered PlayStation Network accounts, but that Xbox-Live-sized stat provoked new questions and skepticism that a Sony rep answered for us today.
The Sony 17 million stat first popped up at CES and immediately drew a parallel to the 17 million Xbox Live users recently claimed by Microsoft.
Sony's 17 million returned in the press release MTV Multiplayer received yesterday, a release stuffed with impressive numbers that confirm PSN to be a well-stocked and actively used service.
Microsoft has been aggressive in promoting Live and the games played on it, which didn't make that company's 17 million figure all that surprising. But Sony has been quieter about their service, ramping up attention on it only recently with the 2008 introductions of its video store and the social environment "Home."
Those factors led to my skepticism about that 17 million in the press release we covered today, as well as of the 2.1 million PSN members Sony claimed to have added in December. I thought I found one loophole: the fact that PSN accounts (like Xbox Live accounts) could be registered online without a console and that those accounts were needed, as of fall 2008, to participate on Sony's official web forums.
I posed those questions to a Sony rep and asked if the company could provide PSN stats for just PS3 owners. This is the response, via a spokesperson for Sony:
"The PSN numbers (17M and 2.1M) include people who have created accounts on PS3, the Web site and PSP. Note that since the implementation of single sign-on, PSN ID and PlayStation Underground IDs (which were often created at the same time when first making a PSN ID) were automatically merged and rolled over. Additionally, since PSN is a free online gaming service, some households create multiple IDs so that a father can keep a separate list of friends, trophies and stats from that of his daughter for example."
There you have it. Sony's explanation for the 17 million.
Don't worry, Xbox fans and haters, I'll continue to inquire about Microsoft's Xbox Live stats as well, when the next opportunity arises.