Sony has announced it will not only allow PS3 owners to pre-order games through the Playstation network, but will also allow advance downloading.
The new system, which is clearly based on PC services such as Steam, will not allow users to play games before their official release date (well, not unless they figure out a hack, which should be even harder on a console.) Instead the game will only become active on release day, likely meaning you can countdown to midnight in the comfort of your own home rather than waiting in line outside a store and being mocked by viewers of a local newscast.
The change appears to be designed to prevent the current problem of large numbers of users trying to download huge files at the same time on release day. It’s also possible that users will take better advantage of the option to download files in batches, pausing and resuming depending on demand both on their own broadband connection and Sony’s servers.
The existing auto-download feature from PlayStation Plus will work for any pre-ordered games, while other users will have to download them manually.
The usual schedule will be that regardless of how early the user places an order, payment is taken two days before the game’s official release date, either from the PSN wallet or, if needed, a linked bank card. Users can cancel a pre-order through the PS3 until the day before payment is due to be taken. After that they can cancel through a manual request to customer service until the day before release. Once release day hits, cancellation isn’t allowed.
Not all games will be available with the new feature. The first will be the Move-enabled fantasy game Sorcery (pictured). It will be available on 22 May in the United States though, despite the new download system, British users will have to sit staring at the icon for the installed but unplayable game for a further three days.
Sorcery can be downloaded right now. Sony hasn’t yet said how far in advance games will normally be ready for pre-order downloads.