Sony Boss Downplays Digital Future

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Sony Boss Downplays Digital Future

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Sony Computer Entertainment boss Kaz Hirai says not to expect download-only consoles before 2020 - at the very earliest.

It's a pretty safe bet that the time will come when the idea of going out and buying a physical copy of a game will seem incredibly quaint, but according to Hirai, that time is a long way in the future. He not only ruled out the next Sony console being download only, he also said that there may never be a totally digital PlayStation.

Hirai said that, for Sony, there would always be a need for a physical medium, as it did business in parts of the world that lacked the infrastructure to make downloading games feasible. He thought that any predictions that suggested that a download-only future was imminent were taking things to extremes, and that it could be more than ten years before that became a reality.

It's going to take a long time to get consumers used to the idea of downloading games rather that going to a store to buy them. Even that ten year guess might be optimistic, and a totally download-only console may never come. As Hirai says, there will likely always be a place for physical media, not just because of slow internet in certain places in the world, but also because some people just prefer it.

Source: MCV

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I'm guessing he means an "download only" console from Sony. OnLive works, it is not for everybody, but I like it and use it and can't wait for the microConsole to hook it up to my bigger HD television.

This comes from the company that had the brilliant PSPgo idea... Which I guess was the first download only console.

Maybe they're just making up an excuse for that failure.

Not too surprised by this, given that they just tried a "download only" platform and failed miserably. (For those of you who haven't been paying attention: The PSP Go.)

On a side note, this may be the latest post (in terms of time of day) I've ever seen on the Escapist.

Edit: Crap, ninja'd. Oh well.

Kapol:
Maybe they're just making up an excuse for that failure.

Or maybe they're just stating what they learned from trying. Which is, y'know, the more obvious possibility.

I like this guy. I really do. People in the industry should listen to what he has to say. The man knows what he's talking about.

Call me a fogey, but I still take some comfort in owning physical copies of things. Games, movies, books... yes they can all be downloaded, but we're not yet in an era where computers are so infallible that you can't lose or corrupt one of the files you download. As such, though the goal of a download only console is interesting, I think we need to continue working on the goal of a BSOD/RROD-less computer/console first.

Physical copy is superior. The day that game companies stop producing them is the day I go on a rampage and kill they ass.

Draksila:
Call me a fogey, but I still take some comfort in owning physical copies of things. Games, movies, books... yes they can all be downloaded, but we're not yet in an era where computers are so infallible that you can't lose or corrupt one of the files you download. As such, though the goal of a download only console is interesting, I think we need to continue working on the goal of a BSOD/RROD-less computer/console first.

Man, I haven't had a BSOD (or any form of crash) on any machine I've used in... years. More than I can remember. And RRoD isn't the problem either.

The idea of the 'cloud' is a big issue. Entrusting our ability to play a game to a company with no vested interest in a game's continued usage after a certain period of time just seems like a bad idea.

For example, Mercenaries 2, which is no longer playable while online (period) thanks to EA closing down Pandemic. EA elected to no longer maintain the servers, which creates an error causing the game to freeze after it first starts while connected to XBOX Live (and, I assume, the same for PSN).

Steve5513:
Physical copy is superior. The day that game companies stop producing them is the day I go on a rampage and kill they ass.

I agree in both content and delivery.

I buy into DL games to some extent as I have a steam account with quite a few titles on it. But I consider my PS3 to be more 'physical' than my PC. My PC has tons of downloaded stuff, my PS3's stuff are all games I've brought with no additional DLC. Cant explain why really, i just wuite like having a physical copy of what ive spent my money on.

Seems the PSPGo woke you up, eh Hirai? Finally some sense from the man.

Steve5513:
Physical copy is superior. The day that game companies stop producing them is the day I go on a rampage and kill they ass.

Me and you both, until internet becomes free there will be no download only consoles because that will cut out consumers who can't afford/don't want internet but still play games, that may only be a few people, but we all know how obsessed with cash these companies are.

Theres alreading a console that was released in brazil and mexico tht is download only. It downloads via cellphone networks. The idea is to stop piracy

If physical media become obsolete, so do all my game and CD shelves. Which would suck hard.

That seems more realistic than alot of the estimates that some people have been coming out with...

The entire market for physical copies might not be dead for some time yet, but I believe the option to buy most if not all games digitally will come much sooner than 2020.

Draksila:
Call me a fogey, but I still take some comfort in owning physical copies of things. Games, movies, books... yes they can all be downloaded, but we're not yet in an era where computers are so infallible that you can't lose or corrupt one of the files you download.

Huh?
So what if your download gets corrupted?
Just download it again.
What if your physical copy breaks then?
Your argument is entirely reversed.

Nova5:

Draksila:
Call me a fogey, but I still take some comfort in owning physical copies of things. Games, movies, books... yes they can all be downloaded, but we're not yet in an era where computers are so infallible that you can't lose or corrupt one of the files you download. As such, though the goal of a download only console is interesting, I think we need to continue working on the goal of a BSOD/RROD-less computer/console first.

Man, I haven't had a BSOD (or any form of crash) on any machine I've used in... years. More than I can remember. And RRoD isn't the problem either.

The idea of the 'cloud' is a big issue. Entrusting our ability to play a game to a company with no vested interest in a game's continued usage after a certain period of time just seems like a bad idea.

For example, Mercenaries 2, which is no longer playable while online (period) thanks to EA closing down Pandemic. EA elected to no longer maintain the servers, which creates an error causing the game to freeze after it first starts while connected to XBOX Live (and, I assume, the same for PSN).

captainfluoxetine:

Steve5513:
Physical copy is superior. The day that game companies stop producing them is the day I go on a rampage and kill they ass.

I agree in both content and delivery.

I buy into DL games to some extent as I have a steam account with quite a few titles on it. But I consider my PS3 to be more 'physical' than my PC. My PC has tons of downloaded stuff, my PS3's stuff are all games I've brought with no additional DLC. Cant explain why really, i just wuite like having a physical copy of what ive spent my money on.

While I agree that digital download only content is a long way off, it is inevitable that one day, there will be no physical copies.

How video games are distributed goes along with how the rest of the entertainment media is distributed. For example, for the longest time, my buddy refused to let go of buying movies on DVD in favor of his Beta machine. But eventually, the DVD format took over distribution, and he was forced to buy a DVD player. Video games converted from their CD format to DVD format shortly afterwards. Same with CD music - as more and more people are converting to the MP3 digital music format, physical CDs are slowly losing ground and reporting declining sales. Not everyone owns a digital music player, but companies care less and less about the outlying populace. Even in the face of making money. Look at the cellphone companies for a good example of that (most are "convert or GTFO" policies). Plus physical copies create a waste cost to companies that is being looked at closely today.

When movies slowly transfer over to a purely digital format - regardless of whether a portion of Americans/Europeans can affort to buy the appropriate machines to watch pure digital movies - then console/computer games are not far behind. The saved cost of digitalization will win out against the costly physical copy. It may not be 2020, but it will be within the next 50 years. And the luddites (I'm sort of one of them) will be forced to convert, sitting in their living rooms with their old XBox 360/PS3's fuming about the future (and not being able to play Modern Warfare 6 online with the rest of the world).

As much hate as this guy gets, he's right on the mark with this. Download only consoles and PC games would be disastrous for people who want and need physical copies.

I think it's pretty obvious, simply from a polling of general opinion that physical formats are still highly in demand, and it's going to be awhile before the majority adopts digital downloads. Definitely agree with him.

Draksila:
Call me a fogey, but I still take some comfort in owning physical copies of things. Games, movies, books... yes they can all be downloaded, but we're not yet in an era where computers are so infallible that you can't lose or corrupt one of the files you download. As such, though the goal of a download only console is interesting, I think we need to continue working on the goal of a BSOD/RROD-less computer/console first.

You know that a console that doesn't have a disc drive has a lot lower chance of breaking. As for the overheating I'm sure less moving parts mean a cooler run as well as more space for circulation.
As much as the service is a rip-off, I'm betting that the Onlive box will probably be the most dependable "console" to come out since the SNES.

I think Kaz is just speaking for himself. Sure it's not an optimal model for the whole world but if it can mean cut-prices (for consumers and publishers), the media-less system could catch on.

Never?

That's a pretty big call.

I thought it was wisest never to say never.

As someone who works in games retail, I approve.

And honesty, who doesn't love that new-game smell? Digital distribution can't beat that!

Denamic:
The entire market for physical copies might not be dead for some time yet, but I believe the option to buy most if not all games digitally will come much sooner than 2020.

Doubtful. Highly doubtful.

Seems that the industry is finally realizing all their utopias and dreams about digital download only will not be reality for a long, long ass time. I am glad for that.

Baldr:
I'm guessing he means an "download only" console from Sony. OnLive works, it is not for everybody, but I like it and use it and can't wait for the microConsole to hook it up to my bigger HD television.

Works? Only if your internet is good enough. And well OnLive is not an download console now is it?

I for one like owning my copies, and will continue to buy in stores. Atleast as long as the download version is shitlads more expencive than the store version.

Swapping a dollar sign for an euro sign doesn't work people, the euro is almost worth twice the amount of the dollar...

Good, I'm going to bookmark this and shove it in the face of any people who think the PS4 will have no disc drive because digital is teh future right nowzlol!

He not only ruled out the next Sony console being download only, he also said that there may never be a totally digital PlayStation.

Uuuuuhhhh...

The US ISP speed average is 10.25 Mb/s(speedtest.net) over 2 times the minimum requirements for OnLive. Like I said though, it is not for everyone, and yes it is download(via stream) only.

Really? because 4 of the last 7 games I bought were digital downloads with XBL's Games-on-Demand service.

maybe we will see a Digital Download only Sony product in 2020, but I could see a Nintendo, Microsoft, maybe even an indipendant digital only console in only a couple of years.

I would say 2013-14 being the earliest.

Denamic:

Huh?
So what if your download gets corrupted?
Just download it again.
What if your physical copy breaks then?
Your argument is entirely reversed.

What if you're only given a limited number of downloads? What happens if you want a new game, but your console doesn't have enough disk space? What happens if your account gets banned? What about people who don't have credit/debit cards, or would just rather pay for their games in cash? What happens when publishers decide they want to take an old game off the "shelves" to make room for newer titles, and you need to "just download it again" because your system's been wiped or something? Anyone who has ever said that either form of distribution is perfect was being purely hyperbolic. They both have their issues, and that's why I think they should both be options when one chooses to make a purchase.

Baldr:
The US ISP speed average is 10.25 Mb/s(speedtest.net) over 2 times the minimum requirements for OnLive. Like I said though, it is not for everyone, and yes it is download(via stream) only.

Mean != Mode

McClaud:

While I agree that digital download only content is a long way off, it is inevitable that one day, there will be no physical copies.

I find it funny that some (certainly not all) digidistro proponents like to advocate the total annihilation of physical media, but I have yet to see a phymed supporter call for all digital distribution to end. I don't see why they can't exist in tandem. Hell, even books haven't chosen one method over the other.

How video games are distributed goes along with how the rest of the entertainment media is distributed. For example, for the longest time, my buddy refused to let go of buying movies on DVD in favor of his Beta machine. But eventually, the DVD format took over distribution, and he was forced to buy a DVD player. Video games converted from their CD format to DVD format shortly afterwards. Same with CD music - as more and more people are converting to the MP3 digital music format, physical CDs are slowly losing ground and reporting declining sales.

There are a few differences between the DVD vs. VHS and digital vs. physical. For one thing, magnetic tapes offer nothing that the DVD/CD can't do better. When it comes to digital vs. physical, however, the debate is more balanced. Digital files are easier to store, but physical ones can provide backups in the event of a crash. Digital files are quick and convenient, but physical copies give you ownership of the CD that cannot be arbitrarily revoked for perceived ToS violations. If your 360 gets "double-tapped" because your son was exposing himself during a round of Uno, you can still go out to the store and buy whatever games you like. Without that option, you're screwed into buying a whole new system, or, I guess, trying to appeal the ban with Microsoft.

When movies slowly transfer over to a purely digital format - regardless of whether a portion of Americans/Europeans can affort to buy the appropriate machines to watch pure digital movies - then console/computer games are not far behind. The saved cost of digitalization will win out against the costly physical copy.

Regardless of what you say about saved cost for production, there are still people who want to buy physical copies. There is still demand. You're assuming that, if game distribution switched to a strictly digital format, all of the people who buy physical copies will switch along with it. This is not necessarily the case. I, for one, would stop buying games altogether. I'd play them at friends' houses, if at all. Ceasing production of physical copies may cut cost, but it would also cut profit.

Good to see Sony learned its lesson from the PSPGo. Pure digital distribution is inevitable, given the heavy reduction in production cost, environmental impact, etc., but its clear the market just doesn't want to support it fully yet. Still, anything that speeds up the ol' Singularity, I'm in favor of, so bring on the all-point digital distribution systems!

Denamic:

Huh?
So what if your download gets corrupted?
Just download it again.
What if your physical copy breaks then?
Your argument is entirely reversed.

No offense, but if you're breaking, or by way of action causing the breaking of games, you're an idiot. They come in jewel cases for a reason. People don't just leave my Blu-Ray games lying around the house, the second anyone takes a game from my PS3 and lays it anywhere but inside the case it was purchased in, they receive a huge ration of shit for it, until they do the right thing.

That's the difference, my intelligence and forethought, keeps my games safe and secure. People who treat $60+ games like coasters, deserve to have no games.

Irridium:
As someone who works in games retail, I approve.

And honesty, who doesn't love that new-game smell? Digital distribution can't beat that!

I think I was addicted to that smell for a time, and probably still am.

oh, oh my precious! let me smell you! let me hold you! let me caress you like no other precious man can do! ahahaha ahaha haha ha......ha.........I need to get out more...

Mornelithe:
No offense, but if you're breaking, or by way of action causing the breaking of games, you're an idiot.

Humans makes mistake.
You might for example drop the disc when putting it into the drive, which can easily break it.
They can also break by natural causes, or rather they will eventually, or they could simply be broken from the start.
The slightest damage on the top of the disc is more than enough to destroy a few vital bytes of data.

They come in jewel cases for a reason. People don't just leave my Blu-Ray games lying around the house, the second anyone takes a game from my PS3 and lays it anywhere but inside the case it was purchased in, they receive a huge ration of shit for it, until they do the right thing.

And since you flesh and blood is protected by a layer of skin and fat, you've never been injured, right?
Just because they have protection, it doesn't render them immune to damage.
Any number of things could happen.

That's the difference, my intelligence and forethought, keeps my games safe and secure. People who treat $60+ games like coasters, deserve to have no games.

That's the difference, my intelligence and forethought, keeps my games safe and secure. People who treat $60+ games like coasters, deserve to have no games.

Get your head out of your ass.
You've broken things you've cared for by accident; we all have.
If your intelligence can't see the flaws of such simplistic arguments, I'd be fairly worried about your games.

Mornelithe:

Denamic:

Huh?
So what if your download gets corrupted?
Just download it again.
What if your physical copy breaks then?
Your argument is entirely reversed.

No offense, but if you're breaking, or by way of action causing the breaking of games, you're an idiot. They come in jewel cases for a reason. People don't just leave my Blu-Ray games lying around the house, the second anyone takes a game from my PS3 and lays it anywhere but inside the case it was purchased in, they receive a huge ration of shit for it, until they do the right thing.

That's the difference, my intelligence and forethought, keeps my games safe and secure. People who treat $60+ games like coasters, deserve to have no games.

No, they deserve their games, I just don't want to hear any bitching about how much they cost.

Denamic:
Get your head out of your ass.
You've broken things you've cared for by accident; we all have.
If your intelligence can't see the flaws of such simplistic arguments, I'd be fairly worried about your games.

No, get your head out of your ass. I actually, believe it or not, have never lost a game due to being a dumbass. It's probably because I've paid for 100% of them out of my own pocket, so I know exactly how much money I've put into it. If you're playing fuck around with $60 games and thousands of dollars in electronics, you deserve what you get. Plain and simple.

I'm soooo sorry if my overly cautious approach towards my belongings has actually proven to work at keeping my belongings safe. My approach keeps my money from being wasted.

Denamic:
And since you flesh and blood is protected by a layer of skin and fat, you've never been injured, right?
Just because they have protection, it doesn't render them immune to damage.
Any number of things could happen.

Actually, you're protected by no less than 8 layers of skin. But that's beside the point. Skin, flesh, and blood heals/regenerates. CD's, DVD's, Blu Ray discs, and electronics do not, you follow? As such, I seek to take more care of thsoe things that do not regenerate.

Being responsible is actually pretty useful, you should try it sometime.

FloodOne:

No, they deserve their games, I just don't want to hear any bitching about how much they cost.

Heh, I don't think they deserve them, AND I don't want to hear about their bitching lol.

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