PSN's 20 mil. vs. Xbox Live's 17? Not Impossible…

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The friendly banter that generally goes on between the console giants went strangely awry this week. VideoGamer.com (currently under the microscope for a recent Resident Evil 5 article, where a proclaimed “expert” had no experience in the topic of discussion) has posted an article in which an Xbox UK rep dismisses claims Sony has made that they have topped 20 million members on the Playstation Network, while Xbox Live sits at 17 million. Xbox Live isn’t just tied to the Xbox 360, it goes back to November of 2002 when it launched on the 360. To my knowledge, the account database has never been purged, therefore all accounts from November of 2002 are all still there. And Sony is saying they’re already at the 20 million mark? Perhaps there is an error in their aggregator and it’s an honest mistake, but I agree with Microsoft’s Stephen McGill, it seems little suspicious.

While other sites point out the obvious, like 21 million PS3s sold should not translate to 20 million PSN accounts, or perhaps the fact that the PSN is free could lead to muliple registrations, I have a few other points to bring up. As was addressed on one other website: Xbox Silver is also free, and of the 17 million accounts, Silver members are “accounted for.” Yes, PSP owners may have multiple accounts on each console – one for each friend, several for various region to download items from the various stores, and in some cases, it was simply easier to say “nah, I don’t like that name any more” and switch to a new one. When the Xbox 360 had “Gamerscore” that you wanted to keep, it was cause for a lot of people to change their gamertags less often.

Still, 20 million members in only about 2 years? One reason the higher number could be the 50 million PSP’s that have been sold, now having access to the PSN. This has been overlooked by every article I have read on this topic thus far. It’s quite simple to imagine users flocking to the free service when provided to them wirelessly, anywhere they go.

I’m a little unsure, myself, as to how much I believe the numbers, and how much it is a marketing tactic… but I don’t find it quite as impossible as the majority of other bloggers I’ve read this week. What’s your take? Leave a comment or visit the WinBreak forum.

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