PSP game rentals planned, music downloads under consideration - Reports

As alleged customer-survey scans surface, <i>Develop</i> magazine reports game designers were briefed on service; CNET claims record-label talks could yield iTunes competitor.


Patapon 2

Last month, Sony Computer Entertainment America director of hardware marketing John Koller told GameSpot to expect "a lot of announcements coming up to E3 and particularly at E3." In particular, he was referring to the PSP, which was the subject of three reports today indicating that big things are in store for the handheld.

Game rentals and music downloads on the way?
Game rentals and music downloads on the way?

Last night, gaming blog Joystiq received a screenshot of what was purportedly a Web survey about a game-rental download service for the PSP. The text on the shot says "the service will enable you to download a fixed number of games during your subscription period...[which] might renew weekly, monthly, or for some other time period." Sony already offers games for sale via digital download, including the download-only Patapon 2.

The survey goes on to ask basic market-research questions about pricing, subscription periods, maximum monthly rentals, and what number of new games respondents would want to see added each month. The survey also asked if the "recency" of the games on offer would be a factor and how strongly respondents would want games on the release date itself.

Interestingly, the supposed survey also promises that "at launch, there will be an extensive catalogue [note European spelling] of games to choose from." Such a scenario is reminiscent of the PlayStation 3 video store, which had movies and TV shows from Lionsgate, Warner, Disney, Paramount, Turner Entertainment, MGM, and (of course) Sony Pictures Entertainment on day one. That service was unveiled via a surprise announcement during Sony's 2008 E3 press event.

With Sony saying that the PSP's UMD optical-disc format "isn't going away," any digitally distributed PSP game rental service would presumably complement physical game rentals. That service appears to be well under way, according to a Develop report today. Citing unnamed sources, the European game-industry magazine said it "can confirm" that back in March, Game Developers Conference attendees were "briefed" on the service behind closed doors.

The third PSP report of the day came from CNET's news blog, which reported that Sony has been meeting with record labels about an iTunes-like music download service for the PlayStation Newtork in general and PSPs in particular. However, "the sources said the talks are only preliminary and no deals have been struck."

When asked for comment on all three reports, Sony reps said, "These are all rumor and speculations, which we cannot comment on."

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