A recent, unannounced fee on publishers offering downloadable content over the PlayStation Network has third-parties considering pulling their extras from Sony’s online store.

Discretely starting last October, Sony started its “PlayStation Network Bandwidth Fee”, a 16 cents per gigabyte fee for any content provider on the PlayStation 3’s online store. Free content is charged only during its first 60 days online, while all paid content is continually charged for every gigabyte of data downloaded for each product.

Three publishers confirmed to MTV Multiplayer their unhappiness with Sony’s recent policy change. This charge is in addition to the six-figures publishers must pay for developing demos that tend to have file sizes well above one gigabyte. The potential cost difference between an Xbox Live demo and the PlayStation Network could be an extra $160,000, discouraging companies from spending the extra couple hundred thousand to simply deliver an online demo.

“It definitely makes us think about how we view the distribution of content related to our games when it is free for us to do it on the web, on Xbox Live, or any other way – including broadcast – than on Sony’s platform,” said one source. “It’s a new thing we have to budget. It’s not cool. It sucks.”

Sony refused to comment specifically on the policy, stating, “Appreciate the opportunity to jump in here, but we respect the confidentiality of our business agreements with our publishing partners. Of course we work closely with them to bring their amazing content to our growing audience, and we are focused on ensuring we, and our publishing partners, have a viable platform for digital distribution. We foresee no change in the high quality or quantity of demos and games available on PSN.”

Another publisher worries that a lack of recent download data will cause a financial shock to companies when they get their bill from Sony. “It’s like leaving your phone off the hook for a long distance call,” the source explained. “The meter is still running.”

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