PlayStation 3 Could Be First Home Console To Fully Embrace Digital Distribution

June 17, 2010 Written by Mike Hartnett

E3 is coming to a close, and with it goes many memorable moments from across the gaming industry; PlayStation Move, killer exclusives and brand-new titles, just to name a few. One new addition that had many PlayStation 3 owners excited was the announcement of PlayStation Plus, the enhanced online service for the PlayStation Network. Now this may seem like just another new addition to the PSN, but, in reality, may indicate something much bigger coming down the line.

Over the past few years, the PSN has gone through some pretty impressive changes. First the PlayStation Store was transformed from a feeble web-based application to a full-blown, robust online marketplace. Then came a slew of new PSN titles along with the first full PS3 retail games: Gran Turismo 5: Prologue, Warhawk and eventually Burnout Paradise. This got the ball rolling and caused many to wonder if industry-wide digital distribution was starting to rear its head. This proved to be true… sort of.

Next came the PSPGo and Sony’s plan to bring every PSP title released straight to the PlayStation Store for PSP owner’s to enjoy without the limitations of physical media. Although PSPGo sales haven’t been all that great, Sony did deliver by making hundreds of PSP titles available for download directly through the PSN, even though they may have missed a few. Again, this brought the idea of complete digital distribution to the forefront of most gamer’s minds.

And so we come to E3 2010 and PlayStation Plus. Sony announced that, once enrolled in the service, users would have the ability to download full, retail PlayStation 3 titles and play them for up to 1 hour to see if they liked them. Additionally, if users signed up for a 1-year membership between June 29th and August 3rd, they would be able to download the full, retail version of LittleBigPlanet absolutely free, yet another PlayStation 3 game on the PSN. Now, the utilization of this new feature means we’ll potentially see dozens and dozens of disc-based titles hit the online marketplace, leaving room for us to speculate that Sony may be heading straight for complete digital distribution.

With newcomers like OnLive entering the gaming scene, it’s clear that digital distribution will play a major role in the gaming industry throughout this console generation and on into the next. Even though this particular editor, and most likely many others, believe that digitally delivered content needs to exist alongside physical media so that users have the almighty power of choice, we’re no doubt going to see a huge rise in the amount of gamers who purchase their games through online outlets like the PSN as opposed to retail stores over time. Expect big changes over the next 6-12 months, as it’s looking like the PlayStation 3 just might be the first home console to fully embrace digitally delivered retail titles. Ready or not, here it comes!

We at PlayStation LifeStyle would love to hear what you think about the idea. Do you think PlayStation Plus is a sign of things to come, or is this just a coincidence, and PlayStation will continue to remain a retail centered brand? Let us know in the comments below!