January 11, 2013, 8:30 AM —
So you're at work goofing off on Google+ or Twitter and your friend mentions a hot new downloadable game you need to check out.
If you're an Xbox 360 owner, you log into Xbox.com, buy the game and queue it to download on your Xbox the next time you turn it on. If you're a PC gamer running Steam, you log into steampowered.com, buy the game and queue it to download to your home PC running Steam. If you're a PS3 owner... well, you write the name down on a post-it note and hope you remember to take it home with you. (The scenario doesn't apply to Wii U owners since there aren't any hot new downloadable games hitting that system yet. Hopefully that will change soon!)
But it seems like Sony is finally catching up! Back in December Sony started testing a web-based SEN (Sony Entertainment Network) store in parts of Europe and Australia. Euro-based Engadget editors gave the store a whirl and found that it worked but was a bit clunky.
Now it seems the store is almost ready to roll out in an official capacity. Shawn Layden, Sony Network Entertainment COO told Cnet that the web-based store should launch this month. That's the good news. The bads news is that we'll "eventually" be able to buy a game and have it automatically downloaded to our PS3. Honestly Sony, without the auto-download feature a web-based store kind of misses the point. I suppose it'll be fun for window shopping at least.
What would be great is if the game started downloading as soon as we purchased it. If you're a Playstation Plus subscriber you know that updates get downloaded in the middle of the night while your PS3 is "off" (in standby, really). Why couldn't a game start downloading in the middle of the day while you're at work? If Sony could implement this feature, they'd leapfrog the Xbox 360 by at least a little bit.
It'll be great to see a web-based store fully deployed though. It should be good for Sony's bottom line too, facilitating all those impulse buys that Steam and Microsoft already coax us into making. Admit it, Steam gamers: how many games have you purchased during Steam sales and never played? I know my pile 'o shame is sky high.
Read more of Peter Smith's TechnoFile blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Follow Peter on Twitter at @pasmith. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.