PlayStation 3 Movie Downloads
As part of Sony’s long-range plans for its newest gaming console, the PlayStation 3 will be getting a movie-download service as well as additional music and HDTV capabilities.
The PlayStation platform continues to evolve both in software and firmware revisions, noted Phil Harrison, president of Sony’s worldwide studios, in an interview with gaming publication 1UP. Even during the heyday of the earlier console, the PS2, Sony noted that the platform would be destined for more than gaming.
The inclusion of a hard drive in the PS3 is part of a larger strategy to boost the PlayStation’s presence as an entertainment hardware device, rather than just a game machine. Harrison noted that, in the future, it is possible that the PS3’s hard drive capacity will be increased to take advantage of digital downloads and offer more storage options. The 10-year plan, he added, includes not only games but also other forms of content, such as movies and TV shows.
Although he did not state when the download service might be available, Harrison noted in the interview with 1UP that the PS3 has a hard drive and e-commerce capabilities, and that it “doesn’t take a rocket scientist” to figure out that the two will come together soon.
In creating a movie and music download service, Sony will be putting itself in competition most directly with Microsoft, which launched a similar service last November. Called Xbox Live Video Marketplace, the Microsoft download service allows Xbox 360 Premium owners to buy movies and TV shows.
The strategy was applauded by some analysts, with a report from research firm Emerging Media Dynamics estimating that the service would generate up to $92 million for Microsoft in 2007, and possibly up to $762 million by 2011.
Creating more demand for the PS3 could help to soften Sony’s losses as well. Some analysts have estimated that Sony is losing money on every PS3 sold, as consumers buy more Xbox and Wii consoles.
The move to integrate movie downloads with its console is not surprising, given the arms race mentality that has been rampant in the gaming scene for the past year, noted Forrester Research analyst Paul Jackson.
“When you have Nintendo, Microsoft, and Sony all competing against each other for the same audience, you’re going to see the rollout of new games, new features, and different services,” he said.
Currently, Nintendo seems to be winning the battle, Jackson noted, although it is much too early to declare it the wartime victor. Nintendo has shown an advantage by having a lower-priced console and hardware that is easier for developers to use, said Jackson, which increases the number of games available.
“Conversely, Sony is having a hard time, and there’s been some bashing of the PS3 among gamers,” Jackson noted. “Sony has been kind of standoffish, some may say arrogant, and now they’re finally acknowledging that they’ve made some mistakes, and there are some new directions they need to go.”