Digital distribution is big business but Sony says most gamers still want disc-based content and as long as that’s the case, it’ll do what it can to ensure people can choose between the two.
Anyone who doubts the viability of digital distribution needs only to look at services ranging from Steam to Xbox Live to GOG and of course the PlayStation Store, where Sony has all kinds of games and other goodies for sale. But most gamers still want their content on discs, according to Sony Computer Entertainment Europe boss Andrew House, and as long as that remains the case, Sony will do what it can to make sure they get it that way.
“At the moment, disc-based content is still very much what the consumer is used to and wants,” House said. “However, there has been a change in attitude and technology that is making digital delivery far more feasible and far more attractive. It is our job to ensure that consumers have the choice between the two where possible.”
“How this area will evolve, I can’t really say at this time, as we are relying on many things outside of our control, such as broadband speeds,” he continued. “Things are changing quickly and we have to make sure we are ready for those changes.”
House’s comments echo those of Wedbush Morgan analyst Michael Pachter, who said last week that there’s “no chance in hell” of the videogame industry switching to digital exclusivity anytime soon.
“With PCs you probably have around 95 percent of them connected to the internet. But with the Xbox 360 it’s probably two thirds, the PS3 it might be as high as 85 percent and the Wii, my guess, is below 50 but probably closer to 35 percent,” he said. “So it’s all the guys who are not connected, the 35 percent of Xbox 360 owners and the 65 percent of Wii owners, that are going to keep games from being made mandated downloadable. If you mandate that, you are going to eliminate all the customers that aren’t connected to the internet.”
I’m not a fan of digital distribution myself, not because I lack an internet connection but because I appreciate the artistry of game packaging, and because I like having some tangible evidence of ownership, too. Sometimes I like to think of myself as something like a die-hard vinyl aficionado in the era of digital music, but truthfully, I’m probably a lot closer to being just a guy with a whole pile of 8-tracks in his closet.