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PlayStation (Games) Portables (Games) Sony Entertainment Games

Sony Pondering Downloadable Game Rental Service For the PSP 50

Posted by Soulskill
from the physical-media-is-so-last-decade dept.
Joystiq has brought attention to a recent survey commissioned by Sony to gauge interest in a rental service for PSP games that would operate by downloading the games to the console. The plan, as Sony puts it, "will enable you to download a fixed number of games during your subscription period ... you will be able to change the games you have chosen for the download once your subscription term renews." The survey goes on to gather opinions on various details such as pricing, the number of available games, and how games are added to the catalogue.
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Sony Pondering Downloadable Game Rental Service For the PSP

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  • Rent vs buy (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Bifurcati (699683) on Thursday May 21, 2009 @05:12AM (#28037297) Homepage
    Sounds awesome, but surely this is a risky sort of business move for game designers? I know we can rent games at the video store, etc, but that's usually very short term. Assuming the subscription period is of a significant length (i.e., the one month), then it would really negate the need to purchase games unless they have significant replay value.

    I just wonder what sort of pricing structure you'd need to justify that.

    • by tepples (727027) <<tepples> <at> <gmail.com>> on Thursday May 21, 2009 @05:25AM (#28037349) Homepage Journal

      Sounds awesome, but surely this is a risky sort of business move for game designers?

      Video games first appeared as coin-operated machines, and the arcade model isn't too different from the rental model. Nor is the MMORPG monthly fee model much different from the rental model.

      • by omnichad (1198475)
        Yes, and how much did Pac-Man cost to develop?
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by rob1980 (941751)
      I'd be interested to see in how the rental money is divided up once it's lifted off your credit card. Perhaps a larger portion of that will go directly into the hands of the designers as opposed going into Blockbuster's pocket. If that's the case, then a pricing structure similar to or slightly cheaper than any current rental service may suffice.
  • I smell a scheme that will end up causing many gamers to pay more than what they would if they were to buy the game. It would be better if you could 'buy' the game rather than 'rent' it. If you want to try a game, you check out the demo before making a decision. Or am I reading this wrong?

    Also, what will their method of dealing with data loss, etc? Just what will the prices be, compared to going down to your local store? I personally like the idea of having a disk, as I can lend it to a friend if they'r
    • by Xest (935314) on Thursday May 21, 2009 @05:40AM (#28037407)

      That's the crux of it. To me downloadable and rental are two words that shouldn't be used in the same sentence.

      In classic video rental stores you'd rent for a fraction of the price of buying because it meant the video store could buy the film for £10 and rent it out 15 times at £1 a time to make £5 profit. It had to be rental because it was a physical object that they could only allow one person to access at a time.

      Of course, that limitation is gone with downloadable content, it's a limitation that has to be created artificially and of course the vehicle for delivering that has to be DRM. Quite rightly as you say, every rental service I've seen so far that creates this artificial limitation ultimately results in a bad deal for the user in that if they want to keep playing it they'll end up paying more than they would've if they could've bought it through classic means in a shop. The same goes for the likes of XBox live's video marketplace in that you might as well just buy the DVD if you're planning to ever watch it more than once and of course watch it at your own pace rather than their artificially imposed time limitation.

      As an aside though I'm not sure what you mean about XBox live marketplace content being slow to come down - I've always had it come down at 240k/s which is the fastest my connection can download at. If you're having issues downloading from there the bottleneck is almost certainly your connection so may be worth checking. The same goes for other download services like Steam, Direct2Drive etc. - download speeds have just never been an issue as far as they max out my connection. I just wish I had a faster connection!

      I have not and will not ever use a software rental service. If I'm paying for software or media I wish to use I want to pay once for that digital and keep it. I don't want to be billed over and over for it. After all, it brings all the classic issues with this approach such as what if they close the store down and I only got half way through playing it and can't re-rent it to finish it off? What if I buy a game that takes two weeks to complete, get half way through it in the first week when my rental expires then they bump the cost up to twice as much if I want to finish it off in the second week?

      • by Swizec (978239)

        As an aside though I'm not sure what you mean about XBox live marketplace content being slow to come down - I've always had it come down at 240k/s which is the fastest my connection can download at. If you're having issues downloading from there the bottleneck is almost certainly your connection so may be worth checking. The same goes for other download services like Steam, Direct2Drive etc. - download speeds have just never been an issue as far as they max out my connection. I just wish I had a faster connection!

        You'd be surprised how very incredibly slow download services start seeming when you live in a country with affordable 20/20 FTTH. The only thing that ever maxed out my connection were incredibly popular torrents.

        • by Xest (935314)

          True it's all relative I guess!

          When 240k/s is all you can get, hitting it is quite pleasing ;)

        • You'd be surprised how very incredibly slow download services start seeming when you live in a country with affordable 20/20 FTTH.

          What country, and how hard is it for a U.S. resident to immigrate?

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        Even if you buy it, the DRM will prevent you from reinstalling it on your new computer once it's activated.

        On hte plus side, DRM has caused me to explore more smaller publishers, who still treat their customers fairly, and tend to produce higher quality games as well.

      • by that IT girl (864406) on Thursday May 21, 2009 @06:44AM (#28037683) Journal
        That last sentence was my first thought--how long would a rental period be? I also am uncomfortable with renting software in the first place--just too many ways it could go wrong.

        Also, I'm just waiting for the DRM to be cracked (you know, about a day after it's released) and then the bitch-and-moan fest begins. They're just setting themselves up for it at this point.
      • by StikyPad (445176)

        To me downloadable and rental are two words that shouldn't be used in the same sentence.

        Actually, the concept was pioneered by the Sega Channel [wikipedia.org]. It had its limits, but was probably my favorite method of game distribution of all time. Large selection, low cost, nearly instant delivery.. what's not to like? It beat the hell out of paying $50 for a game, and then having it rot away in a drawer once you finished, or else selling it back to the store for a fraction of what you paid.

        Very few games have high re

  • Whilst I quite like my PSP (running custom firmware), the one thing that it is pretty poor is at providing games which you can pick up for 10 minutes and play.

    Every game I have seems to want you to dedicate at least 30-40 minutes on it. This might not be a long problem for long trips, but for whiling away 20 minutes on a bus journey isn't going to work.

    Downloadable content may be able to resolve this issue although my gut feel is that, based on the way I play the portable, I probably should have got a DS.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by flows (1075083)
      I've had my PSP for 2 years now, daily companion of a 15/25 minute bus ride to work. I can recall a couple games that made me walk into my office still playing, none had me dedicate that time for fear of losing a save game or having to replay some area. Suspend works every time unless you turn the device off while it's writing to the memory stick. I can pick it up on the way back home, right where I was.


      On topic, I rather have 1 good game at a time and play it to exhaustion (any good game, from Puzzle Q
    • by Jaysyn (203771)

      Odd, my PSP suspends whenever & where ever I want it to.

      • Just because you can suspend, doesn't mean the game doesn't demand attention for an extended period of time. Maybe that's what the poster meant.

        I know I would hate suspending my games of Lumines (the first game I bought) because it was a lot harder to jump back in at the faster paces of later levels.

        • I know I would hate suspending my games of Lumines (the first game I bought) because it was a lot harder to jump back in at the faster paces of later levels.

          The problem with such games is that they need to kick the game into high gear faster. If I were making it, I'd have the speed in single-skin mode increase about five times faster, so that there isn't as much time to sit and make single color bonuses over and over [youtube.com].

      • by flows (1075083)

        Odd, my PSP suspends whenever & where ever I want it to.

        I've had my PSP reset on power up more than a couple times, specially first couple months i had it. Maybe it was the game/UMD fault. I remember Pirates Gold as the worst example, Tony Hawk's close second. Or could it be just firmware, and it got better. Or maybe the unofficial battery? I bought one of those "double capacity" batteries after ruining my official one converting it to Pandora (by clipping a leg off a chip).

        • by feepness (543479)

          Or maybe the unofficial battery? I bought one of those "double capacity" batteries after ruining my official one converting it to Pandora (by clipping a leg off a chip).

          I suspect this is your issue. If I put my stock PSP down and don't pick it up prior to the battery fully discharging I lose my suspend point.

          Your battery may be discharging or simply not communicating with the PSP properly.

  • DRM? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Can someone tell me the difference between a "rented" downloaded videogame, and a DRM that prevents you from playing when you don't pay?

    I don't mean to bash, but from a technical viewpoint I don't see anything new, or that will be easy to get through the /. crowd.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Sockatume (732728)
      DRM is the technology that allows the rental to operate, or rather, to not operate when it's not meant to. They are the same thing at the end of the day. What's "new" is that it's probably the first time a major games company has gone with download-rentals. There's been talk of it for ages but the closest I'd seen so far was one-day game licences for N-Gage Service titles.
  • I wonder: who's interested in this kind of throw-away gaming? I like to buy games for the sake of playing them over a long period of time. I still have my GameGear and all of my games for it.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by sakdoctor (1087155)

      1. I like to own good games.
      2. I prefer to "rent" bad games.
      3. I don't want to waste my time playing bad games.

      Therefore...

      • What about a services that would let you rent a game for two days for a couple bucks, then if you like that would go toward the purchase of the full game. I know when I was into console gaming back in the original NES days, I would have loved that. I remember buying a couple games that I beat inside of three days. $50 bucks back then to a kid making $20/week... that really sucked :)

    • by Sockatume (732728) on Thursday May 21, 2009 @05:56AM (#28037483)
      Demos. Few companies will be willing to dig out and rewrite their old demos for MGS or whatever for download, whereas a one-day rental just requires the company approves the title for rental purchases with Sony. It's something that's more common in mobile phone gaming - the N-Gage service has mandatory demos, but they're usually very short, so £1-£2 for a 24-hour "pass" is a better taste of the title. And in the case of short, not-very-replayable games like MGS-Mobile, it saves you spending £8 on a title you'll clear in a lunch break.
  • I can't see this model working well. There's only a handful of games that are "decent" on the PSP. There might be some good titles trickling out this year. But this would likely work for some when the newer revision of the PSP comes out that does not have the UMD Drive.
  • ... like the kind of idea that I've been suggesting the PC games market adopt in order to counter the rampant piracy.

    • by hairyfeet (841228)

      Uhhh...because if you do that you end up with too many situations like this [metacafe.com]? I can't count how many times I've had to go crackalaka on games I had just shelled out good money for because for one reason or another they simply refused to work. Since nobody accepts opened boxes of software you would probably be setting yourself up for a massive class action suit when whole groups of customers found out they spent $50 on a paperweight. Even if you switched to DLC like this I can't see the corps giving back 30-4

  • The PS3 will get the same thing for it's PSN games. I've have no issues with paying £5 a month to rent a handful of games. The reason I don't play most of the games on there is that there are no demos and I can't get a refund if they're shit. £5 or £50 a year would be a bargain in my eyes.

  • The Math is There (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    I've been waiting for this to hit the gaming industry for a while now. If you sit down and really think about it, this has the potential to save people a lot of money.

    Look at Rhapsody, for example. $14.99 a month for their "to go" subscription. That plus a compatible portable player buys you access to 99% of their library. There are still a few assholes who won't let you have a few of their songs without buying them outright but we ignore those folks.

    Where's the "good" math on this? Think about it. Let's sa

    • I don't feel that comparison with Rhapsody is quite in order.

      First, the number of games that I'd want to play, and WOULD play regularly is pretty low. It's not that I don't like to game; I've been playing since the Atari 2600 days. It's just that with a few exceptions, most games are just "prettier" versions of titles that came out before it. To me, while the physics and graphics are MUCH better, Gran Turismo == Pole Position... you drive in a circle while trying to beat a certain time/other cars. Castle Wo

  • For the right price, and the right games, I'd go for this. I currently buy a $60 game and play it for -maybe- a week. I can count on 1 hand the games I've played longer than that in the last 5 years.

    Currently, my solution to this is GameFly. But even then... My GF account has gone largely unused for the past 3 or 4 months. There's just -nothing- I care about right now and I'm renting a few old games that I might play once and send back.

    I guess what I'm saying is that this would work not because it's a

  • By introducing new services, Sony may force you to download a new firmware which make your "homebrew" software inoperable. (The new ones have special motherboard that made installing custom firmware impossible).

    Look what we have from Sony: Special AIBO memory sticks, New PSP motherboards, and BMG rootkits. What else do we need from them?

  • I don't want a PSP and never will own one. When I travel (like a did for three hours to and from Manhattan for work yesterday) I read and prepare notes for work (journalist for a living) or read non-fiction works.

    The second PSP games become downloadable at the PSN store and playable on the PS3 I can see myself shelling out money for at least ten games that I've kept track of since the PSP's launch.

    I don't care if the games are low-resolution, just allow me to play them in a window on my HDTV. I know the PSP

  • Currently, if you want to download a game DEMO to your PSP it's easy.
    Just connect to the store through your PSP and download it, then start playing.

    On the other hand, if you want to download a full Game, things get different.
    You can do one of two things. First, you can use your PS3 to download the game from the online store, then use the PS3 to transfer it to your PSP, then play.

    Second method. Use your computer to go to the online store, and download the game. Then put it on a portable media (like a
    • Wrong.

      You do know that you can buy downloadables directly with the PSP now ever since last October with firmware 5.00. Do you have an old firmware or something? Because obviously you don't love your PSP enough to know that.

      Also the second method you describe using the PC version of the PSN store is incorrect, what you do is hook your PSP directly to the PC with a USB cable, a PS3 is not required as an intermediary.

      • by meerling (1487879)
        Admittedly I haven't checked in the last couple months, but when I did check earlier this year, those are the instructions that Sony had posted on their site. If they have changed their instructions, I apparently haven't heard about it. If there were any other instructions, they were not visible on that page. I will check again and see if I can find those new instructions. I really want some of those games.
  • I would sign up for this. Most games I play have little to no replay value, such as RPGs, action/adventure. Even Loco Roco I thought I would go back to, but I don't. For me game rental is cheaper per game and per unit time. The download bit is even better since the main disadvantage with Gamefly is availability and the real mail round trip.
  • They've been able to offer rentals for a looong time, but just haven't done so.

    If you check the information on your PSN downloads (hit triangle and choose information you see fields that say:

    Starts: (when you bought it)
    Expires ( just has a "-")
    Hours Left (Which says currently "No Time Limit")

    Same goes for the PS3.

  • It sounds as if the game industry is following the media, cable, internet and other communication industries into a fixed monthly cost payment structure.

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