Myopic Publishers "outcry" "PlayStation Network Bandwidth Fee"

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In a "letter" to Publishers, Sony has stated that it will charge said Publishers with a .16¢ USD "Bandwidth Fee" per 1024MB of data that is downloaded for all of said publishers content distributed through Sony's Playstation Network. Although the details of this "letter" has not been fully disclosed, it has been reported by MTV Multiplayer's, Steven Totilo, that one source said, “It’s a new thing we have to budget. It’s not cool. It sucks.” On the other hand several vital factors are remiss.


If the claims are to be understood correctly, All Publishers who choose to have their content distributed on Sony servers via PSN will be charged .16¢ USD per 1024MB of data that is downloaded. Ergo the Electronic Arts' "Skate 2" demo which weighs in at 1,730 MB will amass a bill of $ 270,331.25 USD if it were downloaded 1 million times. For "Skate 2", this is a cognizant necessity. As the old adage goes, "you have to spend money to make money" however, a more concentrated; focused demo in terms of conveyance, content, and size can drastically reduce the cost of publishing said demo. On the other hand there are games that really do not require demos to be published. Where demos helped is by making an otherwise confusing game more coherent and lay but if erroneously developed, a demo can harm sales. The recently released Resident Evil 5 demo didn't solidify sales but instead "cooled" it. A demo probably didn't help Codemasters' "Clive Barker's Jericho" or Edios Interactive's "Conflict Denied Ops" either, but instead exposed them as the truly dreadful games that they are.

Allocating Cost to the Proper Department
Let's face it. Demos are marketing tools. Much like a music video is for a record company, demonstrations are a 'taste' of what's to come when the full retail copy becomes available. So the question is, who foots the bill for demos? or more appropriately, who SHOULD foot the bill for the demos? One thing is clear. Obviously, the consumer shouldn't have to pay for demos unless they elect to. When will someone elect to purchase a demo? When it's packaged with a game that wouldn't otherwise reach its sales potential on its own ( Zone of the Enders, Crackdown, Dragon Quest 8, magazine pack-ins) or when said game dictates that it will sell (Gran Turismo 5: Prologue). Like any aspect of promotion, demos fall into the same category of promotion as teasers, trailers, and advertisements therefore the cost of the demo should come out of the marketing budget.

Means of Distribution

As mentioned previously, a few Publishers did not like the idea of being charged the PSN "bandwidth fee". Judging by what has been circulating, the publisher will be charged per 1GB of data distributed on Sony servers but a few publishers have found ways around this. The very design of the PS3 is to "customize your own experience" and likewise, Konami and Midway (to name a few) went against the grain and implemented various mean by which DLC can be added to there games. Midway/Epic allows users to download user created content via PC to storage device so that content may be added to Unreal Tournament 3. They also provide an in-game link to download add-ons of the most popular of the user generated content. In contrast, Konami (to much chagrin) has a completely separate online store from PSN where users can download add-ons for its multi-million seller, "Metal Gear Solid 4 :Sons of the Patriot". Given these two examples, it seems that Sony might want a more focused distribution scheme than its peers where only marketable content can be displayed while free content can be housed in-house and installed through various means.

In the end it is really up to Sony as to "how", "when" and "if" this fee is actually implemented and it's up to the Publishers to either post content on PSN or not. Demo's that may be heavily ad driven and promoted are basically paying for themselves since advertisement revenues are probably already being reaped by the Publishers to begin with. And who knows. Sony can always "WAVE" fees and charges to select Publishers (2K Gaming, Electronic Arts) for making good content. I mean really... would you charge 2K Games for Grand Theft Auto 4 content? I doubt it. Personally, I'm going to download Codemasters' "Clive Barker Jericho" (- 821 MB) and Edios Interactive's "Conflict Denied Ops" (- 989 MB) 2 or 3 times so I can get them to be billed for such fodder.