Sony and Microsoft are steadily laying the groundwork for a completely digital future, and they're waiting for you to catch up.
The PlayStation Network and Xbox Live already have plenty of digital content to offer, but according to Eric Lempel, Director of PlayStation Network Operations, and Scott Austin, Director of Digitally Distributed Games at Microsoft, how and when those services expand depends largely on consumers' comfort zones. Though the PSP Go will be an entirely digital platform and Microsoft will be selling older 360 games via its Games on Demand service, neither company is quite ready to completely abandon the retail space:
As far as when - if ever - all games will be delivered digitally, both Austin and Lempel are reluctant to offer any predictions. "Retail experience is still very strong for us and [a] major part of the strategy," Lempel says. "We still support physical media until consumers do otherwise. It's going to be a matter of tracking where consumers are in their habits." Austin echoed Lempel's sentiments. "The industry will get there when the consumers indicate a willingness for it," he says. In other words: It's up to you.
The digital battlefield is on the horizon, and whether Microsoft or Sony comes out on top this generation may in fact be less important than who places first in the impending Network War. Lempel even believes that someday, the PlayStation Network may in fact be "the primary platform through which content is delivered to all Sony devices," not just their gaming machines.
To read more about the looming Network War, check out The War Continues in The Escapist, Issue 212.