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Sony brings cloud storage to the PS3

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Saved games saved here.

Since introducing the PlayStation Plus subscription service at E3 last June, Sony has struggled to give PS3 owners a compelling reason to sign up. But the latest addition to the feature just might do it.

Starting Thursday, the company will allow Plus subscribers to save their games on an online storage system.

Taking game storage to the cloud is something that a lot of game companies have talked about for a while. (Heck, Sony has been considering it since 2009.) And it comes with a number of benefits.

For instance, users with an older model PS3 who are thinking about upgrading to the (relatively) new slimmed-down version, which includes a larger hard drive, will automatically have access to their latest save of, say, Mass Effect 2. And it's especially appealing to users whose old system happens to crash or lock up.

Even folks who are happy with their current model will benefit, as the system makes it absurdly easy to transport saved games to a friend's house when they go over to play -- even with 'copy-protected save data' titles that don't allow you to copy your progress to portable drives and transfer to another system.

"Online storage for game saves ensures that data stored by PlayStation Plus subscribers is more secure than ever and is an integral feature for gamers who wish to access their data on other PS3 systems," Sony said in a statement.

PlayStation Plus carries a $50 per year subscription fee (or $18 for a three-month period). Users who sign up will get up to 150 MB of cloud storage space -- not a huge amount, but it should be sufficient for about 1,000 games, according to Sony, who note that "most" existing games will support the online storage feature. And all titles moving forward will as well.

The downside for those folks who don't have a PlayStation Plus subscription? You're still going to have to deal with the firmware upgrade (this will be version 3.60, incidentally), meaning that when you try to play a bit of Killzone 3 on Thursday, you're first going to have to spend 5-10 minutes waiting for the blasted thing to download and install.

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