Sony introduces Amazon download store; faces PS3 Blu-ray lawsuit

It’s a day of good news and bad news for Sony. The good news is that it’s launched an Amazon store for downloadable content which could get new sales from wary customers. The bad news is that it’s facing a class action lawsuit over charging $150 to repair damage allegedly causes by a recent PS3 firmware update.

The Amazon store works on a simple system: customers buy the game on Amazon just like any other product and receive a download code which they then type into the PlayStation Network to get hold of the game. That might sound pointless, but in practice there may be many users who haven’t yet registered their credit card details with Sony yet, either because they can’t be bothered or aren’t comfortable doing so through their PS3. But as anyone who is already registered on Amazon knows, the 1-click ordering system makes you much more likely to buy low-priced goods without the moment of hesitation that comes from typing in card details.

The system may also clock up some sales among users who don’t spend much time exploring the Play Station Network (largely because they are busy gaming), but might be more likely to browse Amazon (for example, when killing time at work.) Another advantage of the system is that people can pay for the games on Amazon and then give the code to somebody else as a gift. Given the price of the games, players might want to stick a few on their Amazon wishlists to make virtual stocking fillers.

To promote the launch, Amazon is offering credit for one download code with each purchase of a 120GB PS3 or a PSP-3000.

Meanwhile, the company is facing court time over the PS3 version 3.00 firmware update issued last month, which reportedly caused the Blu-ray drives on some machines to malfunction. That’s gone down particularly badly with users who’ve been charged $150 by Sony to repair the problem.

If and when the case goes before a judge, the claimants will have to prove it was indeed the update which caused the problem, as opposed to it being a mere coincidence and the malfunctions simply being a hardware failure.

The case has been brought via a class action suit (PDF). That means that if a trial goes ahead, any users who can show they have been affected by the same specific issue can automatically join as plaintiffs rather than have to bring a separate case. If the court did then find against Sony, all the plaintiffs would automatically qualify for any relevant damages.

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