Sony is putting a videogame spin on popular online movie streaming services such as Netflix by giving members of its PlayStation Network access to a library of blockbusters for a monthly fee.
The enhancement to PlayStation Plus memberships was unveiled at the E3 videogame extravaganza that ends Thursday in Los Angeles.
Sony began letting Plus members download any or all of a dozen hit titles including "inFAMOUS2" and "Little Big Planet 2" to the Japanese entertainment giant's PlayStation 3 (PS3) consoles linked to the Internet.
"We've seen this model work for movie entertainment at home: movies on demand," PlayStation digital platforms director Jack Buser told AFP.
"Tons of people are using Netflix and Hulu where you have instant movie collections, and still buying movies and still going to theaters."
An annual subscription to PlayStation Plus costs $50, with three-month subscriptions sold for $18. People get to keep downloaded games as long as they remain members of Plus.
Blockbuster titles made for videogames are typically priced about $60 when they are released.
"I remember when I was in college, before I got in the videogame industry, and I couldn't afford all the games that I wanted to play," Buser said.
"Now, for less than five dollars a month you can have access to all these great games," he continued. "There are expensive cups of coffee that cost more than that. This is a revolutionary model and a win all around."
Not all of the more than 1,500 videogames tailored for play on PS3 consoles will be available at PlayStation Network, but Sony promised to steadily expand the digital library.
Part of the strategy is to captivate new PS3 owners with instant collections of hit videogames and to entice longtime owners of Sony consoles to try titles they opted not to buy.
Sony hopes that spending more time at PlayStation Network will translate into players spending money on other online offerings including films and music.
"With PlayStation Plus you tend to engage more," Buser said. "You come to get the great value of membership and might stick around to see what else PlayStation has to offer."
Sony would not disclose the number of Plus members, saying only it was "rapidly growing."
Sony has been working to pump up its revenue after posting a record $5.8 billion loss in its latest annual results.
The company logged a record full-year loss of 456.66 billion yen in its latest business year, the fourth consecutive annual shortfall, as it struggles to stem losses at its television division.
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