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More PS3 Problems: Sony Sticks Publishers With Downloadable Content Bill

This story was written by Tameka Kee.
Now you can add something else to the growing list of gripes that game publishers have against the Playstation 3: *Sony* is charging them a "network bandwidth fee" for all downloadable content they make available through the PlayStation Network. The 16-cent-per-gigabyte fee was quietly rolled out in the beginning of Q408, and publishers have to pay it even if they're giving the content away for free. That may not seem like much at first, but if a 1 GB, free demo got downloaded by a million users, that's an extra $160,000 a publisher would have to kick back to Sonyand that's on top of the development costs. 

Distributing content via Microsoft's Xbox Live is free, and as MTV Multiplayer reports, a contrast has some publishers rethinking their entire downloadable-content strategy: "It definitely makes us think about how we view the distribution of content ... when it is free for us to do it on the web, on Xbox Live, or any other way including broadcast than on Sony's platform," one publishing source said. MTV Multiplayer's other sources also echoed that sentiment, which could point to fewer exclusives and a slimmer downloadable-content library for the PS3 in the future. But in an emailed statement, Sony (NYSE: SNE) suggested it wasn't buying into that fear: "We foresee no change in the high quality or quantity of demos and games available on PSN."

So who should foot the bill? Given the growing popularity of downloadable content, both Sony and Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) need to offset the costs of all that bandwidth use. And they way they do that is to pass it along to a third-party. Sony's choice to charge publishers may be unpopular, but on some levels it's better than the alternative, which is to charge gamers. That's essentially what Microsoft does with Xbox Live, since gamers have to pay subscription fees to use the service, in addition to buying downloadable content; usage of Sony's PlayStation Network is free.

Photo Credit: wlodi

By Tameka Kee

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