Sony have finally launched the PlayStation2 hard drive in the US, some might say a little late into the console’s life cycle. The drive is identical to the one that has been shipped with the Linux kit for the last 18 months – but then the drive in the Linux kit wasn’t compatible with game saves or downloading content.
So why now? The hard drive is needed to play Final Fantasy XI, the first online iteration of the baffling (hey, only if you don’t play it) role-playing game, and sales of the FF series more than justify marketing a $99 peripheral that was already in production. The drive comes with FFXI pre-installed, and players will be able to sample the game free for 30 days – but will have to cough up $12.95 a month as a subscription to keep going.
But that’s just one game – there will be a huge range of downloadable content and media available for subscribers: new levels, music, perhaps even full-length films. Given that the average game save is about 200kb and you could fit roughly 200,000 of those on the new disk. Sony obviously have a lot planned – and if the peripheral takes off, suddenly Sony has a potential installed base of more than 70 million broadband-enabled, game playing media hubs in living rooms and bedrooms around the world.
We’ve been quite looking forward to the hard drive, the endless fiddling about with memory cards is annoying: one card for RPGs, one card for all our EyeToy pictures, and Bahamut help me if I lost Sesame’s card with her Grand Theft Auto and Silent Hill saves on it.