It’s probably one of the biggest debates in the gaming industry nowadays, concerning the future. A future where physical discs no longer litter the shelves of your local retailer, replaced instead by an extensive online library. It’s something that will definitely happen soon, but Sony have realised that gamers aren’t ready for this type of change just yet.
PlayStation marketing executive Guy Longworth has spoken about the shift to a digital-only market, saying that most consumers “don’t want to buy online right now.”
“I think the reality is this: Our digital business is growing fast, and we have incredibly strong partnerships with our key retail partners as well. What we try to do is offer a relatively level playing field and let the gamers decide. We’re not trying to advantage them, we believe in consumer choice.”
“It’s clear that the vast majority of the people want to go down to GameStop or Best Buy, they don’t want to buy it online right now. How that might change in the future is kind of hard to predict. People might be quite surprised, I think physical games will be around a lot longer than some people think.”
So, in short, Sony has a strong relationship with retailers that is clearly bringing them a lot of money, and creating a digital-only environment impacts retail immensely. As in, games retailers would probably be forced to shut down. The question is then, who sells your consoles? Or better yet, who’s going to sell consoles knowing that they’ll never see any income from that sale in the future?
It’s a tricky business and it’s not only gamers that should be concerned. Retailers and distributors employ thousands of people that rely on the physical aspect of games for their income. In a digital-only world, their jobs aren’t required.
So yes, retail copies of games are probably not going away as soon as anybody expected. However, it’s on the table for the future, and that’s probably not going to change either.