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Sony is announcing today that it will offer online storage so that gamers will be able to store their game saves online instead of on their machines. The storage in the cloud could be a much more convenient way for PlayStation Network gamers to access their saved games, since storage space on their hard drives is limited.

The new feature shows that, even though Sony shipped the PlayStation 3 video game console in 2006, it can continuously update the hardware with new features through web-connected updates. These updates have become a critical way to keep users happy and get them to use their consoles more than they otherwise might.

The free storage isn’t available to everyone. Sony will offer the online storage to PlayStation Plus subscribers, or those who pay $49 a year for premium service. As such, the online storage is a kind of enticement to upsell gamers from the free version of the PlayStation Network to the paid version. It’s also a way to one-up gaming rival Microsoft, which doesn’t yet offer this feature.

Cloud storage is also a good way to back up data in case the user’s game console storage fails. The update will be available in the v3.60 release of the system software for the Ps 3. It will be available on March 10 and will be automatically enabled for PlayStation Plus subscribers who install the update.

Susan Panico, head of the PlayStation Network in North America, said the new feature is Sony’s way of continuously enhancing the value of its paid subscriptions for loyal gamers. Sony has more than 70 million users for the PlayStation Network, but it’s not clear how many of those are paying subscribers. About 70 percent of the players log into the service every week.

With the game saves, PlayStation Plus members can store up to 150 megabytes of PS 3 game save data and a maximum of 1,000 data files per PlayStation Network account. All previously backed-up data can be restored once per 24-hour period. New titles will have the capability to offer the storage option directly from within the game, as the user saves during game play. Users can check their storage space on Sony’s user interface, known as the Xross Media Bar (XMB).


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