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Sony Adds $399 80GB PS3, Bows PSN

Sony Computer Entertainment America has added a $399 80GB PlayStation3 to its line and is offering downloadable movies and TV shows via its PlayStation Network

Saying, “2008 is the year of the PS3. We’ve only begun to scratch the surface,” Jack Tretton, president/CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment America, introduced the company’s line at this year’s Electronic Entertainment Expo Business Summit, here.

Sony introduced its 80GB Core Pack, which is now available for $399, replacing the previous 40GB model that was sold at the same price along with a copy of Metal Gear Solid 4. The game will not be included with the new 80GB package.

In addition to revealing a new lineup of PS3 games (more on those below), the company highlighted the role Sony hopes the multimedia console will play in the living room and beyond. This includes the PlayStation Network (PSN), which allows a single sign-on for all games, along with a friends list so players can track what their friends are up to, see their accolades, and even join them in a virtual environment that is part of the PlayStation Home.

Sony also highlighted plans for its living room delivery method for downloadable movies and TV series, with both rental and purchase options available via a broadband connection. The PSN is open for business with various content providers including Sony Pictures, MGM, Fox, Funimation Channel, Warner Brothers, Paramount and Lionsgate. Rentals will range from $2.95 to $5.95, while purchased content will range from $9.99 and $14.99; this video content will be offered in standard definition as well in high definition.

More importantly, Sony is promising that these downloads will be able to be taken on the go as well, via integration with the Sony PlayStation Portable. The company announced that content could be transferred to the PSP via a direct connection to either the PS3 or a PC. The service is available now, with new titles and content arriving each week.

All of this activity comes in a year, the second in a row, where Sony finds itself in what must be unfamiliar territory in the video game arena. Namely, the company isn’t dominating the industry with the top-selling console in this cycle. The PlayStation3, which is now in its second year, continues to trail the Nintendo Wii and Microsoft’s Xbox 360.

The PS3 game lineup for the second half of 2008 includes Resistance 2, sequel to the launch title Resistance: Fall of the Man, and Little Big Planet. Among the other first- and third-party titles that were highlighted at this year’s E3 press conference were 007 Quantum of Solace, SOCOM US Navy Seals Confrontation, Ghostbusters: The Video Game, Soul Calibur IV, The Agency, Mirror’s Edge, SingStar, Motorstorm Pacific Rift and Killzone 2.

The PSP is the second part of Sony’s triple play of game content. This fall a new PSP Size Matters Bundle will be released for $199, and will include a silver slim handheld model, a copy of the movie “National Treasure 2” on a universal media disc (UMD) along with a copy of the game Ratchet & Clank Size Matters.

The third part of Sony’s master plan was focused on the PlayStation2, which still has at least two more years of life left, and Sony has promised a strong lineup of games.