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PlayStation (Games) Portables (Games) Sony Entertainment Games

Sony Pondering Downloadable Game Rental Service For the PSP 50

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 @06:12AM (#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 Xest ( 935314 ) on Thursday May 21, 2009 @06:40AM (#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 sakdoctor ( 1087155 ) on Thursday May 21, 2009 @06:41AM (#28037409) Homepage

    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.


  • by calmofthestorm ( 1344385 ) on Thursday May 21, 2009 @07:14AM (#28037561)

    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.

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

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 21, 2009 @08:13AM (#28037821)

    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 say you have one of those fancy 30,000 song iPods. Indeed, if you bought individual songs from iTunes, it would cost you $29,700 to "fill" it up. Less if you bought full albums or had a few CDs in your collection to rip first. I'm going to take piracy out of the equation here because I'm trying to make an argument for legitimacy and honestly on the part of the individual consumer.

    Now, look at Rhapsody. If you spent $29,700 on their "to go" plan at 14.99 a month, that would buy you a subscription good for 1981.32 months to access all current and future releases. That's 165.11 years. I doubt any of us are going to be alive that long, let alone be in full command of our ability to hear.

    I use Rhapsody as an example because it should be a business model the gaming industry adopts. Imagine paying a flat fee...let's be generous and say $49.99 a month since, like Rhapsody, we want the subscription price to be a median of what one physical unit might cost. Most games are $50 to $60 new much as most CDs are anywhere from $15 to $20 new. What would that $49.99 a month get you? Again, unlimited access to the library of either Sony, Microsoft, or Nintendo...depending on who's console you have.

    I'd say this would be perfectly profitable for the industry. They would draw in a whole new audience this way. The prospect of only having to pay that one fixed price would be so appealing that I have to think money would be made left and right on the deal. Instead of a million gamers buying a dozen games a year (maybe about $600 a person in spendings), you suddenly have 20 million gamers paying you $600 a year. I call that profit.

    I'm wondering how long it will be before Amazon catches on to this and goes to the publishers to hash out an all-you-can-eat deal with them as well. I'd gladly fork over $20-$30 a month to read all I can. Sure, I could go to the library for free but Amazon is in a unique position to offer their customers the entire literary world.

    Some people don't like the idea of not "owning" anything. I have a friend who is very much against digital distribution. I ask him, however, what "owning" really means and how it's made his life better. Is having a game or a book or a CD that you listen to a few times and then forget about for years really that much more appealing? Seriously? Sounds to me like throwing away money.

    Let's talk about the environment. Digital distribution helps out here as well. Imagine...no more packaging. No plastic disc cases, no plastic wrap, no paper manuals. Imagine the savings there...both to nature and your wallet.

    I'm not saying this is all going to happen over night, but if you do the math and also look at our "on demand" society, I think you'll agree this is the direction we're headed...it's all about who is going to get their feet wet first.

  • Re:Rent vs buy (Score:3, Interesting)

    by rob1980 ( 941751 ) on Thursday May 21, 2009 @08:25AM (#28037911)
    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.

Beware of Programmers who carry screwdrivers. -- Leonard Brandwein