Sony has ruled out a PS3 games-on-demand service for the PlayStation Network, leaving Microsoft with a clear run on trialling the ins and outs of a potentially retail-free future for software.
“[A games-on-demand service] is not something we have planned, just because the size of the games is massive,” PSN director at SCEA Eric Lempel told IndustryGamers.
“With Blu-ray we can put up to 50GB on a dual-layer disc, while Xbox 360 is still on a 9GB media. So technically it's possible, but I think the issue would be ‘do you want to download 40 gigs and keep that on your hard drive?’. I think there's great opportunity there in the future, and it's something we'll always look at, but for the time being it's not a direction we're going in.”
The claims come despite the fact that Sony has been one of the pioneers of the console digital distribution movement, with a number of titles (such as Ratchet & Clank, Warhawk and Pain) seeing simultaneous release on both PSN and Blu-ray. Publishers such as Ubisoft already offer full-game PSP downloads on the service.
Elsewhere in the interview, Lempel added that he thinks PSN is now on-par with Microsoft’s Xbox Live network.
“I don't think there's a lot of catch up with XBL anymore,” he told IndustryGamers. “In some cases, I think we've got more, and we've got some other things they don't have.
“In terms of strengths, of course we're still free, and we're giving you a lot for free. It's not just free online gaming, but we've got PlayStation Home, which is a massive community and application that's totally free to use.
“I think there's a lot we're doing that in some cases they're not doing, and I don't see a lot of things they're doing that we're not.”
PSN has certainly evolved considerably since its inception alongside the launch of PS3 in late 2006. Many of its key additions – such as Trophies, cross-game invites and in-game XMB – have appeared as a direct result of the innovations championed by Microsoft’s network.