By Jared Newman | Thursday, May 21, 2009 at 2:24 pm
At this point, everyone but Sony is talking about a redesigned PSP that ditches physical media in favor of digital downloads. Whether you believe that or not, several reports suggest the PSP will eventually focus more on Web transactions with a download-to-rent service.
The evidence came from Joystiq, which reported on a survey gauging interest in a rental service. The questionnaire says this kind of offering “could be developed” and sought feedback on price points, subscription packages, desire for new releases and the number of titles added per month. From the nature of these questions, it seems like Sony is considering paid subscriptions rather than a la carte rentals.
Today, Develop magazine writes that game developers were briefed on the nature of this service at the Game Developers Conference last March. Several studios were reportedly given information and documents on the service.
Download-to-rent video games are an interesting proposition because they alleviate some of the uncertainty downloaders face, knowing they can’t sell the game back to GameStop once they complete the game. The trade-off, obviously, is no ownership of the real gems. If Sony does implement subscription rentals for the PSP, I hope the company figures out a way to bridge this gap.
I’m thinking some sort of incentive plan for purchasing games would work nicely. Gamefly, for example, lets renters keep the games they really like at used game prices, and adds discounts that get better the longer you’re a member. This is what keeps me subscribing through boring spots on the release calendar.
Sony would be wise to implement something similar. Even better, the company could make like Napster or ZunePass and let subscribers permanently hang on to a game every few months. That would keep customers happily forking their money over to Sony, not the middleman.