While they are no slouches when it comes to promotions and marketing, the folk behind Sony’s PlayStation Network have never quite mounted a massed campaign on the scale of Steam’s “Summer Camp Sale” or Xbox Live’s “Summer of the Arcade.” Both of these have been rather successful in driving up interest in digital-only game content, so it’s no surprise that Sony has announced a similar–and yet entirely different–venture with PSN PLAY.

In a press release earlier today, Sony’s Manager of Digital Distribution, Pierre Gravereau, announced PSN PLAY will from here on out be a yearly promotional campaign designed to reward players for purchasing digital titles from PSN. A series of interconnected discounts, bonus DLC, and–eventually–a free game will be available to players who purchase certain games from PSN during the duration of the promotion. Like “Summer of the Arcade,” these games are new releases from the network that Sony clearly wants to people playing.

This year, the four initial titles promoted by PLAY are Street Fighter III: Third Strike Online Edition, The Baconing, Bloodrayne: Betrayal, and Renegade Ops. Anyone who purchases these titles during the time period of PLAY will receive a variety of free unlocks and downloadable content (for instance, players who grab Street Fighter III will automatically unlock the gloriously unbalanced boss fighter, Gill, right off the bat). Subscribers who purchase all four titles will receive PAYDAY: The Heist for free when it releases through PSN on September 20. In addition to all this, PlayStation Plus subscribers will receive a 20% discount on all five of the titles.

Though rather more byzantine than “Summer of the Arcade,” PSN PLAY does offer some decent deals if you like free DLC. Each of the featured games deserves at least a cursory glance: Street Fighter III is an underrated classic (which I am terrible at), so it deserves a glance from the online fighter crowd. Against all odds, Bloodrayne: Betrayal actually has some positive buzz surrounding its pre-release. The Baconing is another offering of DeathSpank’s irreverent, Diabloinspired goofiness. Renegade Ops and PAYDAY: The Heist are both unproven quantities, but that could change quickly if PLAY gains the kind of legs that “Summer of the Arcade” has given titles over the last couple of years.

PSN PLAY Promo Announcement

All of this is to say that PlayStation owners may want to browse the PSN Store a little bit more closely during the period of the promotion. While the initial impression the announcement gives isn’t awe-inspiring by any means, it’s a step in the right direction for Sony’s promotional wing. Only the next month will tell whether it’s a shining beacon for future deals or a complete non-event.

Are you excited for PSN PLAY to lay down the digital deals? Was “Summer of the Arcade” more exciting? Do you think the program will work as an annual event? Give voice to your inner consumer in the comments!

This year’s PSN PLAY promotional period starts August 9 and runs through September 9 for PlayStation 3.