It's going to be one of those days where every story seems like a it's a bad day for Sony... According to MTV Multiplayer, Sony is now charging publishers 16 cents per 1GB of content served as DLC on the PlayStation Network as of October 1, 2008.
That is major. I cannot stress enough how this could effect the amount of content available on the PlayStation 3. I don't know for sure why Sony is doing this, but I can make an educated guess: the PlayStation Network is free for users.
Bandwidth is NOT cheap. YouTube pulled in $500 million in revenue last year and didn't make a profit. Of course, YouTube has higher traffic than 99.9% of websites and services out there, but the rule of expensive bandwidth holds. Why do you think so many ISPs are beginning to throttle downloads and charge for overuse?
You might be saying, "16 cents is pretty cheap. What's the big deal?" Well, let's do some math:
1GB Game Demo downloaded 1 million times = .16 * 1 million = $160,000 to the publisher.
I think DLC packs will mostly be safe because they are paid, but we might see a price increase to account for bandwidth costs to the publisher. Free content like demos, however, will most likely slow down. Now, take a look at multiplatform games and a publisher's hypothetical thought process:
I can put my demo up on the Xbox 360 for free, but putting it up on for the PS3 will cost me money. In fact, the better my game is and the more people that download it, the more I'll have to pony up to Sony.
Clarification: Publishers will only rack up charges for free content during the first 60 days of life on the service. Paid content will be charged as long as it is live.
It's not a big leap at that point for a publisher to forgo a PS3 demo. "You get what you pay for..." I've said time and time again: I willingly pay for Xbox Live and deem it a valuable expense. I prefer Xbox Live to PSN for almost everything and I hope Sony finds a way to avoid hurting publishers.
Sony's company line, made in an email to MTV Multiplayer, is:
“Appreciate the opportunity to jump in here, but we respect the confidentiality of our business agreements with our publishing partners. Of course we work closely with them to bring their amazing content to our growing audience, and we are focused on ensuring we, and our publishing partners, have a viable platform for digital distribution. We foresee no change in the high quality or quantity of demos and games available on PSN.”
I foresee a change. A big, big change.