Much like its announcement in the US in 2008, Sony has announced an Australian PlayStation Network movie service, the Video Store, less than 48 hours before it is set to go live.
At 1AM AEST on Thursday morning, PSN users will find a new icon in their XMB interface, where they will be able to rent or purchase both standard- and high-definition movies to watch on their PS3 and up to three PSPs per account. Sony said that the average SD file size is around 1.5GB at a resolution of 526p; HD is 5GB at 720p. However, Avatar in SD had a file size of 2.8GB, and we saw file sizes of up to 7.2GB for HD.
Sony says that 600 films will be available at launch, with a further 50 being added every month. The company is optimistic, claiming that the service has been enormously successful since its launch in the UK six months ago.
Film rental prices will start at AU$3.99, but will average at around AU$5.99. Once you have rented a film, it will stay in your playlist for 14 days. Once you start watching a film, it will be removed in 48 hours.
Purchase prices will start at AU$7.99. Most of the films shown were substantially higher than this, though; Avatar in SD was retailing for AU$24.99, with no rental option, and Dude, Where's My Car was retailing for AU$17.99, with a rental option for AU$3.99. Whether or not a film is available for rent, purchase or both will depend on the studio and the title.
Sony also claimed that the Video Store's delay in Australia was due to customising the service for the Australian market; however, the only nod in that direction seems to be the inclusion of Roadshow Entertainment in the list of studios providing content, with no channels dedicated to Australian content.
Other studios providing films include 20th Century Fox, ContentFilm, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios, Paramount Pictures, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, Walt Disney Studios, Universal Pictures Australasia and Warner Bros.
All content will be subject to digital rights management, which means that while you can store it on an external hard drive, you'll need to have a PS3 or PSP for playback.