Digital future seen for next-gen consoles

Will Sony’s Playstation 4 and Microsoft’s Xbox 720 consoles fail if they do not adopt a digital distribution model? 

Well, David Darling, the co-founder of Codemasters, believes both industry heavyweights must firmly reject the concept of physical media. 

”Sony and Microsoft cannot let the retailers dictate game prices going forwards if they want to break free from the current over-priced model, their next consoles, PlayStation 4 and Xbox 720 need to be digital only, or they will fail,” Darling told MCVUK.

“Consoles have become like dinosaurs heading for extinction as their natural retail habitat begins to change. These ancient beasts must now adapt to a new environment where platforms like Steam, Facebook and Apple’s App Store are pushing innovation.”

According to Darling, the industry is essentially transitioning from boxed to digital games, with physical media like DVDs near extinction. Therefore, says Darling, old-school hardware manufacturers like Sony and Microsoft will be overtaken by new companies embracing digital distribution. 

“If the next generation consoles have media drives like DVD to keep distributors and retailers happy so they can sell physical product this will make the machines uncompetitive. They will not be able to compete on price,” Darling emphasized.

“The retailers will say to Sony and Microsoft ‘you can’t sell game X at retail for $60 and then sell it in your App Store for $2.’ However, console-makers will need to sell games for $2 or else they will not be competitive with Apple.”

Darling certainly has a point, although Microsoft seems to have already embraced a digital future by offering a slew of cheaper games on Xbox Live for download. However, it seems quite unlikely that huge franchises like CoD, Modern Warfare or Crysis will ever abandon a $40-$60 price point. 

As such, titles under $20 will probably be sold by indie developers, or larger companies looking to distribute additional DLCs and compilations.