News Article

Sony: Physical Games Will Be Around Longer Than People Think

Posted by Damien McFerran

Sony's Guy Longworth takes another stab at Microsoft

Everything seems to be pointing to a digital future for games, but Guy Longworth — Sony's senior vice president in charge of PlayStation brand marketing for Sony Computer Entertainment of America — has voiced the opinion that the consumers aren't totally ready to ditch physical games just yet.

Speaking to GamesIndustry International, Longworth said:

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.

Longworth's comments could be seen as yet another dig by Sony at rival Microsoft, which recently had to perform an embarrassing U-turn on its DRM policies for Xbox One.

Although Microsoft's original policies weren't expressly intended to damage physical retail, they limited second hand sales and prevented people from sharing their games with friends — one of the many advantages of having a physical copy of a game as opposed to a purely digital one.


User Comments (34)



ObviouslyAdachi said:

I prefer getting physical copies. It's fun to drive over to GameStop anticipating the purchase. I like the way new stuff smells(don't hate, you know you do too) and how it looks to have a stack of game boxes. Buying a physical copy is a fun experience, and I hate filling up my system memory/memory card. And my Vita case can hold more games than I have and putting a game in only takes a couple seconds. I only buy digital for games that don't have physical, like Retro City Rampage.



MadchesterManc said:

@ObviouslyAdachi Word for word exactly the same as I feel about this topic. Who deosnt like the smell of new games!? lol The only thing better than a new game is a fresh comic. I also like to buy collectors editions of games for the physical goodies they come with (Yes, I bought for Aliens Colonial Marines for that superb model ) Until Digital can offer goodies, Internet speeds get better and storage space moves even higher in capacity then Ill keep buying physical over digital.



chazaroonie said:

Physical copies of games are generally cheaper than the digital alternatives too. Look on the PlayStation store and you'll find titles retailing at £39.99 when you can shop around and pick up a physical copy for £25. I can't be the only one who has noticed. And I agree with both previous comments. Who doesn't like to see a huge collection of games next to their console? I know I do.



Jaz007 said:

I love Sony even more right now. I do have that consumer trust they talked about haiving a bit with them. This news makes me glad. I love to get physical and always get that way when possible. I don't know what you mean with the new smell thing, but I do love my case. (and manual when it comes with one these days.)




@chazaroonie The digital prices are set by publishers, and usually are higher than physical copies by way of subsidising the losses they make on used game sales.
PS Plus is a perfect example of how these prices can be negotiated down.



Jasontamer said:

Seriously Sony has learned their lesson BIG TIME! and it's awesome. I love buying Physical Copies but love Digital when it comes to my vita



Reverend_Skeeve said:

"I love the smell of new games in the morning!"

(and any other time of the day, obviously)

@ObviouslyAdachi Ayup, pretty much agree with you. I prefer the "act" of buying physical...getting to the store, enjoying the anticipation, unpacking and smelling the new game.

I also enjoy buying digital, though. I owned an Xbox and bought Shadow Complex, Renegade Ops, Bastion and many other games that I enjoyed tremendously and I though were perfect for digital. Even snatched up a digital copy of Borderlands 2 for 20 bucks shortly after launch and didn't regret that either. But will always prefer my AAA-games on disks.

@MadchesterManc Yeah, I'm also a sucker for nice collectors editions...if they are nice. Colonial Marines being a prime the power loader. Also have the Watch_Dogs DedSec Edition on preorder for the PS4. I'd prefer the other one with the cap and bandana, but there's more DLC bonus I'm interested in in the DedSec Edition.



chazaroonie said:

@KALofKRYPTON I agree that PS+ makes a big difference to the price of digital titles, I just wonder what proportion of PS store users are PS+ subscribers. I'm not currently registered for PS+ and won't be until later in the year when I get my hands on the PS4.



Paranoimia said:

I wouldn't necessarily say this was a stab at Microsoft - just common sense.

DRM issues aside, we know it's probably going to go digital eventually. But until the price of digital games reflects the decreased costs, few people will welcome it with open arms.

The prices on PSN and Xbox Live are set by the publishers, not Sony and Microsoft. As a result, we're never going to see the digital version of a £49.99 game for a ShopTo-matching £32 on release day - I get that. But charging the full RRP for a digital version is ridiculous and insulting. Given the lack of costs for physical media, case, manual, and distribution, a day-one digital version should quite easily be anywhere between £5 and £10 less than the retail RRP.

It wouldn't undermine retail that way, as places like ShopTo and Amazon would still be cheaper - but it would go some way towards making gamers feel that they're not being taken for complete mugs, and possibly help ease the transition to digital that some in the industry seem hell bent on moving towards.



JGMR said:

@Paranoimia "we know it's probably going to go digital eventually."

Same was said about CDs. Well, they were wrong. I am happy lots of people want something tangible instead of something impersonal and distant. The day that retail ends, will be the day I quit gaming. I want to OWN my games. /end of story.



shingi_70 said:

How was that a stab at Microsoft?

Also I don't agree with the assumption however. Depending on how telecom providers go about the next five years we could see a massive shift to digital. Still I agree that physical we have a presence as everyone can't afford great intenet plans or rollout.

Still I thought Microsoft's plans while somewhat dracion (only the DRM ascpets) were a better way to introduce us to a digital future.



Paranoimia said:

@JGMR I'm with you on that. I prefer physical media, and I still buy my music and games on disc when possible. That said, I don't think they're necessarily wrong about CDs, I just think it's happening much slower than some people anticipated.

Even so, with music, at least you can buy digital and burn to physical. You can't currently do that with games - which means that anything you buy is only yours for as long as the service exists, which is never guaranteed.



Weskerb said:

I get the feeling that I get a better deal out of physical media; shop promotions / discounts, having the box on my shelf to look at and being able to trade it in, lend it to people or give it away. But I do like managing my downloads, browsing my digital library and switching between games without having to get up as well. But overall, discs and boxes are better long term value for me I think.



InsertNameHere said:

Xbox fans were defending the Xbone by saying that in 5 years, all games would be digital and have DRM. If that is indeed the case, then that will be the day I quit gaming.

I want the excitement of going to my local GameStop,being handed my game, staring at it on my way home and then furiously ripping off the wrapping. I wouldn't be able to experience that if all games were digital.

Then there's that DRM nonsense, which basically means I'm leasing the game. If games went digital, I would probably continue gaming, but I would definitely quit if there was any ultra-restrictive DRM like Microsoft had in mind.

@Sony_70 No, Microsoft was trying to force everyone to go digital, whether they liked it or not. How you think forcing someone into anything is "better" is beyond me. If games go digital, then it has to happen organically, not forcibly - We have to decide for ourselves.



DeHorror1975 said:

I like the physical copy as well, I still have all my resident evil 0-4 and code veronica on gamecube, they are collectors items to me. A game like the last of us I will keep also, I like to collect them.



Squiggle55 said:

Physical Media will be around for at least as long as it takes for my generation of gamers to die out. I'm concerned that the very young generation of gamers is being desensitized to being robbed blind and for some reason does not mind downloading a full retail title for $60 that they don't actually own. If someone took the time to do a research poll I'm sure they would find that it is mostly the young generation defending digital.

Don't get me wrong, I love the digital revolution for indie games and self publishing. But the full retail digital release is a rip off that won't fly until my generation is completely gone.



rjejr said:

Is this Sony making fun of Microsoft for putting out the DL digital only PSPgo?

Oh wait...



Hokage17 said:

Like others have mentioned I just like going down to gamestop, checking out all the new games, and buying it. There's something really special about the whole process almost like shopping for a new car. That's my biggest problem with digital games, they just don't feel the same. That may sound minor to some people but it is a very big deal.



RudysaurusRex said:

I totally agree with Sony. It's a good feeling to see a stack of games that you love. I just love browsing game stores not knowing exactly what I want. And the joy (and sometimes frustration) of hunting for games. I just don't get that same feeling from browsing Steam, or PSN.



Zombie_Barioth said:

I think theres a lot of truth to that. A while back I had to explain to my cousin that DSi points still cost money, now hes a pretty bright kid but the fact that I had to explain that shows just how gullible this newer generation can be.

Why do I get the feeling that a lot of us here are going to be telling our grand kids about how back in our day games were on cartridges and disks when we're old and grey?

I get the appeal of going digital, especially since I buy most of my games on Amazon but I would much rather get a good deal on the physical copy and know my game will get here when it gets here than trade tangible goods for convenience.

Besides, its nice having an actual library of games to show off. Nothing says your a fan than having the full series proudly displayed on a shelf.



Ginkgo said:

I still buy mostly physical.
Main reasons:
1. Price. I can usually pick up a physical copy cheaper than Sony charges for digital. It is crazy that they charge full Retail for a digital game. They should be cheaper, without packaging, transport, duty and retail costs. Even, if the price is the same, why would I not get a physical copy.
2. HDD space. With my 1TB I could probably now do it, but previously space was a real issue.
3. Licencing issues. I still have concerns about how digital games are licensed. If I buy one, I wont to own it, not rent or license it. If I own it, I can do what I like with it, which includes transferring it to external storage, selling etc. We are not there yet. Can you imagine not being about to sell a used car?



Gamer83 said:

I'd like to believe this is true but I have a bad feeling this will be the last gen with physical media. I think by the end of this gen Sony and MS will be pushing big to try and go all digital. Nintendo may or may not, that company is too hard to predict, but it is telling that they're getting into DLC now (not that I mind this as DLC done right can add to great games) and starting to push digital sales of 3DS and Wii U games. When Nintendo does that, you know some big changes are on the horizon.



rjejr said:

@Ginkgo - 1. Price.

That about sums it up for me. PSN had Jak HD on sale for $26.99. I bought it new at Gamestop for $10. When PSN had the Bejeweled games on sale for $10 each I bought a box set of 3 for $9.99. Gamefly also has awesome used game sales, games are used , boxes and instructions and codes are in tact. Target also puts a lot of stuff on clearance for $12.98.

If you buy games day 1 then I could see digital being the way to go, save time, but for anything you're willing to wait 6 months more, disc trumps digital.



neumaus said:

I prefer digital for the convenience, and I hate having to listen to the cacophony that is my PS3 trying to read discs.

"E-EE, errrr, ENENNNN," insert sound of PS3 fan/overheating



mibtar said:

Definitely longer. If you think about CDs (music), a song compressed into a 5mb file will do for almost everyone. People can store hundreds or thousands of songs in a multi-gig player. But it's a lot different with games. Game size just keeps increasing. 40-gig sizes may just be the norm with next gen consoles. They're gonna fill up that HDD pretty fast. You'll end up deleting games when you run out of space. Might be a lot easier to just insert a disc.



Lopezdm said:

I having the game in your hands is a pretty cool feeling after waiting so long for it to release. That was when I was kid and now games release and I feel like I just heard about them yesterday. I guess am a busy guy but being a busy I can't always go out or wait up for game releases and would rather just have the game downloaded. Sometimes it's a hassle to go out and stand in line when you could get some sleep and download it in the morning. I am sure that we will have games in stores as long as they are open. It's a money thing..



belmont said:

What I always hated about portable consoles is that if you had a lot of games they weren't portable. I had 15+ Game Gear that they were a pain to carry around. PSP go and Vita solved this problem and I buy all my portable games digital. I would do the same with 3DS but for some strange reason Nintendo doesn't sell prepaid cards here any more. I enjoy seeing all nine Final Fantasy games (end soon 10) as bubbles in my Vita OS as much as I enjoy having the boxes in the shelve.

As far as PS3 is concerned I have not turned 100% to digital yet. Someone may want a game in a shelve but I have almost no room! Anyway seriously it really depends on the price. For example The Last of Us costed 70 euros to preorder on local retailers (simple edition) while on psn costed 60 euros and I also got the soundtrack (for various reasons I can't or don't want to import from UK).

Also here there was problem in the availability of some titles (there is nothing from Ghostlight for example) and psn helped with it.



rockman29 said:

Sony has a vested interest in keeping game discs alive, we should also remember that. They print discs! Lol.

I'm glad they do though, because I like discs



Subie98 said:

@Squiggle55 Our society has become one of convenience and instant gratification where we give up too many consumer rights among other things.



artemisthemp said:

I recently pre order Hatsune Miku: Project Diva F in US, because EU didn't get a Retail copy.

I may have to wait a bit longer on my game and have to buy US PSN card to buy DLC, but at less I get a Retail.

A better example of why Retail (Region Free) > Digital.
I brought US version of HDN MK-2 and enjoy it + it's Story DLC.
I could however not have enjoy the Story DLC to MK-2 had I brought EU version, since Scandinavia and Polen don't have any DLC for that. (Due to old Sony Policy)

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