Mass Effect 2 for PS3: Downloadable and On Disc at the Same Time

By  |  Wednesday, January 12, 2011 at 1:49 pm

Another Playstation story to take eyes off the current hacking unpleasantness, perhaps?

Sony announced that Mass Effect 2 will be downloadable through its Playstation Network on January 18, the same day that it goes to brick-and-mortar retailers. I’m not aware of any previous big-budget PS3 games that launched as downloads day-and-date with their retail counterparts.

Mind you, Mass Effect 2 isn’t a brand new game — last year, it launched exclusively for the Xbox 360 and Windows — but it’s a darned good one, and a sign that publishers are getting cozier with the idea of full game downloads.

We’ve seen this trend on the Xbox 360 as well. Last December, I noticed that Xbox Live’s Games on Demand offerings were creeping closer to their retail release dates, with hit games like Red Dead Redemption and Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands landing on the download service within seven months of their boxed versions.

But day-and-date releases are a world apart from even the slightest delay, because there’s no time for the game’s value to depreciate. Once a game’s been on the market for a month or two, used copies become available, sometimes at huge discounts. Xbox Live Games on Demand are rarely a better deal than a used copy, and sometimes don’t even match the game’s new price at retail. You essentially pay a premium for instant gratification.

That won’t be the case with Mass Effect 2, at least for a month or so. And this seems so relevant now that Sony’s litigating to fight piracy. After all, isn’t convenience the best way compete with free?

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