Sony has today announced the launch of FirstPlay on PS3 – a new on-console episodic gaming show featuring video previews, reviews, trailers, galleries, demos and downloads.

FirstPlay is being produced in high definition by the editorial team behind the Official PlayStation Magazine at Future Publishing and will be available exclusively on the PlayStation Network.

It will come in the form of weekly episodes at a cost of 99p each, with three-monthly subscriptions available for £8.99.

What is Firstplay?

The content in each FirstPlay episode is a mixture of professionally cut and scripted HD video reviews and previews, high-res screenshot galleries - with each image getting relevant audio captions - plus user-created content and exclusive downloads.

It's all pulled together using a slick, XMB-inspired HD interface. In effect, it's similar idea to Qore, which is an interactive magazine available on the PSN in the US, but with key differences.

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"The aim with FirstPlay is to take the editorial coverage we've always had in the Official PlayStation Magazine into the digital age," Tim Clark, Editor in Chief, Official PlayStation Magazine, told TechRadar.

"We think it provides the best way for you to experience games - on console, where you're ultimately going to play them, combined with the insight and expertise of our editorial team."

FirstPlay episodes sit inside the Game menu in the PS3's XMB and, once purchased, each episode can be downloaded on the same PSN account as many times as you like.

There's nothing to read in FirstPlay, either – everything is voiced over by British Comedian Lucy Porter, and written by the Official PlayStation Magazine editorial team. While the reviews will be different from those in the mag, the scores awarded to each game will be consistent across the board.

What's more, FirstPlay viewers will get access to certain game demos, videos and other content on the PlayStation Network before anyone else. This will come in the form of links within FirstPlay taking viewers to secret sections of the PSN Store.

"The audience is pretty easy to pinpoint, " Clark said, "it's anyone in the UK who owns a PS3 and is active on the PlayStation Network.

"We really want FirstPlay to capture the breadth of the PS3 experience, which is why we'll be running regular features on user-created content, from the best SingStar performances and FIFA 10 goals to the coolest LittleBigPlanet levels, plus we'll also be reviewing Blu-ray movies and content from the Video Store.

"The core of what we do, though, is always going to be brilliantly edited footage of the biggest games, with the same opinion and authority you'd expect from the Official PlayStation Magazine team."

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Ray Maguire, Senior Vice President of Sony Computer Entertainment Europe added:

"As PlayStation 3 moves the gaming experience to a more social and competitive online environment through the PlayStation Network, so it becomes critical that we're offering gamers the very best content and services through this channel.

"FirstPlay is a great example of this. Future Publishing has an outstanding track record in producing content for gamers that is informed, impartial, relevant and with the right production values, so we see them as a natural partner to work with as we move to on-console media development."

FirstPlay episodes will be available to UK gamers in the Spring and will roll out across selected European and other PAL territories later in 2010.

Each episode will weigh in at around 1GB, while game demos and the like will be downloaded separately from the PlayStation Network via optional links within FirstPlay.

For a video preview of FirstPlay, head over to www.FirstPlay.co.uk and you can see a bit more over at CVG.

Disclaimer: FirstPlay and the Official PlayStation Magazine are published by Future Publishing, which also publishes TechRadar.