I’m well aware that the PS2 operates currently without any sort of central online service, and that most games have no subscription fee.
However, in my opinion, what makes online games fun is playing with good people. With Xbox Live, or a similar service, when you come across good people, you can add them to the friends list, and then pick up games with them over and over again with ease.
Now, if you’re the type of person that doesn’t care about playing video games with friends of yours, and you just want to get online and “pwn noobs”, then this doesn’t apply to or affect you. In fact, you are the type of person that usually doesn’t make it onto my friends list.
However, with the added functionality Microsoft is promising with the new Xbox Live service, and what I can only assume Nintendo will follow suit with, it just seems a little bit lacking if Sony decides to forego that completely.
And since, on top of the already obvious fact that they are not releasing their next generation console first, and reports that they have to rework the entire system since the development consoles they sent to video game companies overheated and melted due to improper cooling, I would think they’d want to be as competitive as they can get.