At the ongoing E3 conference, Sony revealed its answer to Xbox Live Video Marketplace, adding online movie sales and rental to PlayStation 3 consoles. And to help persuade people to make the most of the service, the company also confirmed that from September, current 40GB consoles would have their storage upped to 80GB.
Given the strength of the competition it’s facing – not just from Microsoft, but from online rental companies like Netflix, and Apple’s online TV service – Sony has sensibly decided not to hold back. Initial content comes from a decent range of providers including Fox, MGM, Disney, Paramount and Sony Pictures.
Prices seem pretty reasonable too: television shows can be viewed for $1.99 per episode and film rental prices range from $2.99 to $5.99. If you want to buy the film, it will cost between $9.99 and $14.99 to download.
According press releases, the service went live right after the announcement but unfortunately, even though I’ve donned my stars and stripes afro and taken a peek at the US PlayStation store, the system doesn’t seem to be fully implemented yet. There is a placeholder however, so it could be seeing though my cunning disguise.
Even though Sony did manage to drum up some semblance of support from major studios, it is still trailing well behind Xbox 360, especially now that it has Netflix and its tens of thousands on titles on board. However, Sony does have an ace up its sleeve: PSP. Everything you buy or rent from the PlayStation Store can be transferred directly to the PlayStation Portable for viewing on the go.
The 80GB price juggle is a pleasant surprise, especially seeing as Sony said there would be no price cuts following rumours of Xbox 360’s 20GB model discount. However, while you’ll soon be able to pick up an 80GB PS3 console for $399 (the current price of a 40GB model), it will lose the backwards compatibility that is still just hanging on in current 80GB models across the pond.
We’ve yet to receive confirmation of when these price cuts or the TV and movie service will be reaching the UK and rest of Europe. We’ll let you know as soon as we hear about it.