Sony may have done right by consumers with regards to physical media on the PlayStation 4, but that doesn’t mean that it’s a priority on the next generation system. A quick glance at the hardware’s chassis may mean that you overlook the disc slot, while the device’s power and eject buttons are even harder to find. Figure out how to swap a disc and you’ll note that every game is installed to your hard-drive anyway, making your Blu-ray little more than confirmation that you own the release.
With retail software almost obscured, then, you’d think that the PlayStation Store would take centre stage – but it does so in the wrong way. Even with publishers such as EA and Ubisoft backed into changing their prices, games are still outrageously expensive from the online plaza. A copy of Killzone: Shadow Fall will cost you £52.99 ($87.76) in the UK, for example, when you can snap it up on a disc from Amazon.co.uk for considerably less. So what gives?
Well, according to Fergal Gara, the boss of PlayStation’s British division, it’s all about keeping retailers onside. “First of all, we want to support a healthy retail channel, so it's not in our interest to go and seriously undermine retail,” he told Eurogamer.net, adding that stores in the UK often charge considerably less than RRP in pursuit of your business. “Let's not forget that the UK is probably the most competitive retail space that there is in the world.”
He continued: “You mentioned Amazon as an example. Amazon controls its own pricing. We don't set the pricing. So if they decide on some crazy low prices that they'd like to charge their customers, that doesn't mean that it's appropriate for the PlayStation Store to match or follow that price. These are effectively all independent retailers."
Of course, that doesn’t help people that want to buy digital but are being prevented from doing so by extortionate prices. Fortunately, Gara understands and agrees. “Will there be a settling down and an alignment, and where would we expect digital pricing to be?” he pondered. “We'd hope that it would be roughly equivalent to street pricing for the disc. That's where we expect the dust to settle over time.”
He concluded that buying digital is still a relatively new practice, but that the manufacturer is “listening to the feedback” and working to find a balance that benefits both retail and fans of digital games. "Buying DLC and add-ons is already a significant business,” he explained. “So I think that we'll find the right level that allows retail to coexist, selling discs and giving a great high street presence for our games, but also the digital option to coexist alongside it.”
Are you eager to make the jump to digital purchases, but being put off by lousy pricing? Are big bandwidth bills rather than high software costs forcing you to stick with physical discs? Add your two cents to the comments section below.