Epic wants to ditch physical media and go digital

Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney says physical media is unlikely to play any serious role in future console generations.

According to Sweeney, physical media is terribly outdated, restrictive and plagued by creeping slow load times.

“Spinning mechanical media is truly an awful distribution scenario for gaming. Accessing a random piece of data takes up to a quarter second, [while] NAND-based flash memory access times are measured in nanoseconds,” the CEO told Games Magazine.

“Many of the limitations in current-gen games derive from the hardware’s inability to load random-access data quickly… I’d expect mechanical media to play no role in future devices.”

Clearly, Sweeney must be talking about a long-term vision in the interview. 

We all know the days of physical media are numbered (eventually), but companies such as Sony have invested heavily in formats like Blu-ray and probably won’t give that up anytime soon.

Yes, we certainly have come a long way from blowing madly on Nintendo cartridges and waiting for our Sega Saturns to boot, but obviously, there is still room for major improvement.

Is the industry ready for the great leap forward? 

Well, digital distribution platforms like Steam are certainly moving in the right direction, but the next stage is likely to be dictated by the state of Internet infrastructure over the next few years.

For example, faster transfer speeds and reduced latency are likely to encourage more downloads, while simultaneously advancing the evolution of cloud-based gaming.