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Sony: Time Still Not Right For A Download-Only Platform

Sony called the PSP Go an experiment, and it probably helped bring them to the following conclusion:

The world isn't quite ready for a download-only platform. In a recent Edge interview, SCEE President Jim Ryan and Sony Worldwide Studios President Shuhei Yoshida spoke about why they didn't ignore physical media for their new portable device, the PlayStation Vita.

Basically, while all-digital may be the way to go for some consumers in the modern world, the time is "still not right" for everyone. Said Yoshida:

"We believe, for some consumers, the time is [right], but for other consumers, the time is still not [right]. So we believe the time is still not right to go download-only as a platform.

Some PS Vita titles, like Uncharted: Golden Abyss, will be close to 4GB in size, which could be too large to download for consumers 
who do not have a fast broadband connection."

Yoshida added that some consumers do enjoy shopping in retail stores, and speaking to knowledgeable store clerks. ...okay, we're not too sure about the latter these days, but we get his point. Ryan adds that high-tech US consumers shouldn't be too narrow-minded on the issue:

"There are consumers in parts of the world – this is a global device – where the digital model has not yet fully been embraced."

That's a simple enough explanation, and certainly quite true. If you're marketing a product to the entire world, you have to realize that the vast majority don't have the super fast Internet capabilities that we have. Furthermore - and we've said this before at PSXE - many fans are actual game collectors, and none of them would count a digital file as part of their hard-earned collection.

Expect the Vita to arrive in North America some time during the first quarter of next year.

Tags: sony, portable gaming, vita, ps vita, playstation vita

10/7/2011 10:43:16 AM Ben Dutka

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Comments (46 posts)

Qubex
Friday, October 07, 2011 @ 11:07:08 AM
Reply

For many people, download only products, would be an issue. As you said Ben, there are collectors... and collectors like to collect things. Not just bits and bytes, and not feeling "restrained".

Collectors want to have the freedom to keep or trade their collected items. This alone will keep the physical product alive for much longer.

My prediction is that we could have physical product for at least two more generations - 10+ years...

Q!

"play.experience.enjoy"

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Highlander
Friday, October 07, 2011 @ 1:41:10 PM

I like that prediction.

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Xombito
Friday, October 07, 2011 @ 11:49:34 PM

I'M A COLLECTOR!

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Excelsior1
Friday, October 07, 2011 @ 11:42:09 AM
Reply

i think the psp go experiment pretty much demonsratated that. so sony should know. psn's month long outage kind of shows the problems that may occur when dealing with a downloadable only system. can you imagine having bought a psp go then? that would have really sucked.

i think digital downloads will continue to sit alongside the physical product for some time. i know publishers want it badly but sony is right. it's not time. i wonder if gamers would ever truely accept a download only system. i suspect the demand for the physical product will never die out entirely.

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TheAgingHipster
Friday, October 07, 2011 @ 11:55:55 AM

I have to disagree with the notion that the Go failed because it was a download-only device. Sure, that kept some people from adopting it, but the Go also had a ridiculous price point, limited library, and no means of bringing previously purchased UMD titles into the system. The lack of physical media was only one piece of the more complicated puzzle that was the PSP Go flop.

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Excelsior1
Friday, October 07, 2011 @ 2:12:33 PM

good observations there aging hiptster. when you put it like that it's amazing the psp go was ever brought to market in the first place. with all the problems you listed it's no wonder ir was a flop.

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SolidFantasy
Friday, October 07, 2011 @ 11:44:59 AM
Reply

LONG LIVE AWESOME BOX ART!

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LimitedVertigo
Friday, October 07, 2011 @ 11:52:02 AM
Reply

Meh!!! I'm willing and ready for the next leap. Stop holding me back guys!!! I love downloading games off the PSN (especially being a Plus member with all the deals that are offered) since it makes it easier as far as organizing and accessing my media.

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TheAgingHipster
Friday, October 07, 2011 @ 12:01:08 PM

I'm with ya, Vert, at least a bit. I do love having my physical collection, but I also like not having to deal with the extra space being taken up by the discs. I never purchase PC titles anymore, relying instead on Steam to purchase and manage my games. But, I have 2 terabytes of space available on my gaming rig, so downloading big games isn't a concern. This isn't the case for the consoles.

Ultimately, until backup options are improved, DRM issues are sorted out, and every system comes with a 500+ gigabyte hard drive, an all-digital distribution system is too impractical for avid gamers. Besides, certain games have Collector's Editions that deserve a prominent place on my display shelf! :)

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LimitedVertigo
Friday, October 07, 2011 @ 12:24:07 PM

I understand currently we aren't in the majority but I'd like to see more options being made for downloadable content. Continue to offer games physically but also put the game up as a download.

I love Steam, I've been using it since its first release and it has changed the way I buy PC games and play them.

Last edited by LimitedVertigo on 10/7/2011 12:24:18 PM

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TheAgingHipster
Friday, October 07, 2011 @ 12:36:36 PM

Exactly, give gamers the option. That's really the best way to make a smooth transition into digital distribution. I think most gamers would adopt digital distribution eventually, as long as certain collectable components were still available otherwise. (I'd hate to miss out on Drake's necklace and belt buckle!)

My only gripe with Steam is having 20+ different versions of Visual C++ Redistributable on my hard drive. But even that is a small complaint compared to having all of my games in one convenient location alongside game-specific news and updates.

Now if they can just get the driver issues worked out for Rage so I don't have to play through copious amounts of screen tearing, I'll be a much happier PC gamer.

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LimitedVertigo
Friday, October 07, 2011 @ 12:50:17 PM

LOL, ya C++ is also multiplied due to Office and Nero on my computer.

I'm only aware of some ATI cards having driver issues with Rage. Is there a Steam issue as well? I haven't picked up the game yet (BF3 will consume me for months).

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TheAgingHipster
Friday, October 07, 2011 @ 3:08:38 PM

Oh yes. I run a very high end nVidia build with the latest beta drivers, and I still get a bit of texture pop-in, and screen tearing. I've tried upping the video memory cache, forcing vSync, GPU transcoding, you name it, nothing's fixed it. (I would try writing my own config file, but I'm afraid of getting banned on Steam!) nVidia has stated they'll be releasing some Rage-specific fixes to their drivers in the coming days, so in the meantime, I just have to deal with it. Fortunately, the tearing isn't excessive, and the texture pop-in is only at the very edge of the display, so neither issue is game-breaking, just a bit annoying, and I don't even notice it when the combat gets heated.

I'm still leery of getting into BF3 due to the EULA permitting EA to snoop through my PC to their hearts' content, and I won't play it without a mouse and keyboard, so it's looking like I may have to skip out on it. Too bad I won't have any other games to occupy my time.

...oh wait.... ;)

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Jawknee
Friday, October 07, 2011 @ 4:31:06 PM

I disagree with you LV. ;)

I don't want to have to download games like God of War III(35gb) or Uncharted 3(50gb) and I certainly don't want high fidelity games like that being held back due to size retrictions or ISP download restrictions. For example, in the UK Ratchet and Clank Quest for Booty had to be released on a blue ray disc due to ISP retractions on bandwidth.

As far as I am concerned, the bigger games get the less all digital all the time models will work.

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LegendaryWolfeh
Friday, October 07, 2011 @ 7:47:20 PM

Aging hipster, have you tried the config fix in the steam forums? I used it and it runs almost perfectly now. Screen tearing is very limited so that's a fix, every so often the textures haven't finished but its still nice :)

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LegendaryWolfeh
Friday, October 07, 2011 @ 7:53:45 PM

http://forums.steampowered.com/forums/showthread.php?t=2156747

^^^ check that out

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LimitedVertigo
Friday, October 07, 2011 @ 8:20:40 PM

Jawk I'm just asking for a choice. In my perfect world you'll still be able to buy your games in physical form and I'll be able to download those same games.

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Jawknee
Friday, October 07, 2011 @ 8:49:43 PM

Oh I see. Of course I wouldn't have an issue with that. :)

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TheAgingHipster
Friday, October 07, 2011 @ 8:54:04 PM

@Wolfeh, I've been afraid to because I don't want my account banned by Valve for modifying the config files. I'll give this a shot, though, since several posts I've seen suggest it and the users haven't been banned. If it's not that big an improvement, I'll just leave it be and deal with the occasional tear until a decent patch and driver combo comes up. :/

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Rtk_13
Saturday, October 08, 2011 @ 3:43:05 AM

I like having games stored on my hard drive just having the BF3 beta on my hard drive and not having to take any game out of the disk drive is fantastic, I would hope to move completely to Digital Distribution but more expensive prices for games that don't release on day one and cheaper retail prices. I just wish I had a good windows computer to play steam games on!!

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slugga_status
Friday, October 07, 2011 @ 11:53:36 AM
Reply

Well this is something most of us gamers have said in the first place...

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cthulhu_spawn
Friday, October 07, 2011 @ 12:06:40 PM
Reply

My main problem with the downloadable content idea is stated in Ben's article. While broadband and internet speeds and coverage are improving continually, at the moment there isn't a decent universal infrastructure in place. I personally have my broadband provided on a dongle as i don't have a land line ability where i live. Even when i take my ps3 to my bro's place to download various gubbins from psn, the time it takes is awful and if the only way to access new games was the download model then my days as a gamer would unfortunately be ended :-( I love my shelf full of boxed games and even if downloading was a practical option for me, i would still want my collection to look at and share with family/friends

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Temjin001
Friday, October 07, 2011 @ 12:43:58 PM
Reply

I'm ready to convert all of my games to digital. Just like music, it's so antiquated to place a CD into a music player in order to listen to my favorite music. Similarly and ideally, I'd like to access my games without relying on physical media to experience them. For me, a "collection" is just as much real in digital as it is physical because the "physical" is actually just storage. They're pieces of plastic taking up physical space on a shelf that I'd rather not worry about.

Now the whole DRM thing is another topic. If there's anything about physical I do like is the DRM free nature of them. Some digital services and content can be great as well, but sometimes there's more strings attached than what I'd like.

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LimitedVertigo
Friday, October 07, 2011 @ 12:52:19 PM

The only DRM I'm against is the one that requires a constant connection to the internet in-order to play the game (Final Fight).

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Jawknee
Friday, October 07, 2011 @ 4:35:12 PM

You're right that most people don't use CD's anymore but I do because I appreciate the CD inserts and artwork. I also don't like the idea of having to depend on Apple or anyone for that matter to keep a log of my music. I buy CD's then copy it onto my computer. If I ever lose my audio files I have the CD as my back up and don't have to call Apple and beg them to let me redownload the music I paid for. Besides, the mp3 audio quality pales in comparison to uncompressed audio files that are found on CD's.

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LimitedVertigo
Friday, October 07, 2011 @ 8:40:10 PM

Jawk I have well over 1TB of music...do you have any idea how large of a room I would need to hold all those CDs? Also the price of digital music is FAR cheaper than buying a CD. As far as the quality a majority of my music is at least on par with CD quality.

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Jawknee
Friday, October 07, 2011 @ 9:00:19 PM

The CD's I buy are priced pretty competitively. CD's are cheap on amazon and I get most of my music from Fat Wreck Chords and other indy labels. They usually never charge more than $12 for over 12 songs. But I understand your need for digital music given the size of your collection. I'm super picky with my music choices so I don't have to worry about that. Haha I'm a music whore as you know. I have never heard an mp3 formatted song that has yet the match the quality and clarity of an audio CD unless you don't compress them when transferring them to your computer. I bought Pour Habit's Got your Back off iTunes and compared the quality when I got a hard copy, the CD is better in that case. Seems to always be the case when I listen to songs on my iPod vs a CD except for the ones I kept large of course. I know it's a small difference and most can't tell the difference but it stands out to me. I guess maybe cause I have recording, mixing and master experience and can easily hear the difference.

Last edited by Jawknee on 10/7/2011 9:03:45 PM

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Fane1024
Saturday, October 08, 2011 @ 3:15:02 AM

I buy all my music on CD. I've never purchased an MP3 (nor downloaded one for free except from the artists themselves).

But I only play the CDs on the car stereo, since the only CD player I have hooked up to my home stereo is my PS3 and it's loaded with ripped MP3s.

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Highlander
Friday, October 07, 2011 @ 1:02:47 PM
Reply

Hmmm...

Who is this vast minority you speak of Ben? l)

There are too many people who do not have access to broadband that is fast enough for an all download future - even in the US. Of course in many countries the situation is worse - just as in some it's much better.

I don't see us going to download/stream only until bandwidth is universally better, and bandwidth caps go the way of the dinosaur. Even those that have the raw speed have a bandwidth cap that kicks in at some point. If you start streaming video content, games and more, you can run up some very impressive bandwidth use. Of course if there is more than one gamer in a home, that puts twice as much pressure on the Internet connection, and divides the available bandwidth between however many gamers are using it. Once again, until we have really fast Internet speeds everywhere, download only just ain't gonna work.

I'm happy to hear Sony saying this. They seem more in touch with reality. 'Another company' is pushing hard for downloadable everything, but then they've been doing that since the launch of BluRay. Must be their lack of involvement in Bluray...

Either way, it's far too early to start pushing everything to the cloud and praying that the Internet infrastructure doesn't implode under the weight of it all. Even if it doesn't implode, very, very many consumers do not have the Internet speed to make it work anyway.

Last edited by Highlander on 10/7/2011 1:05:19 PM

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AcHiLLiA
Friday, October 07, 2011 @ 1:30:01 PM
Reply

PSP Go was more like a beta in some cases, I'm glad I didn't shell out the money on one.

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AcHiLLiA
Friday, October 07, 2011 @ 1:31:49 PM

We need FiOS or similar High speed internet at affordable prices.

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TheAgingHipster
Friday, October 07, 2011 @ 3:57:07 PM

I did... *weeping softly in the corner*

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PANICinc
Friday, October 07, 2011 @ 5:11:38 PM

I picked up a used PSPgo for about $100. And I have no remorse at all! But then, I do only use it for casual games (all the free minis from PS+) and music. It's a great MP3 player for my car! LOL

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firesoul453
Friday, October 07, 2011 @ 3:13:42 PM
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I'm SOOO glad that they aren't trying to go all digital!

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Russell Burrows
Friday, October 07, 2011 @ 3:34:48 PM
Reply

It means BD100 and BD200 blu ray discs.


When 2186p comes in then its going to need BD1000 and BD2000 discs per one game.

Anyone have a TERRABYTE per second internet?
No?
How about five years from now?
No??
Ten years from now??
No??

And wait until 4200p goes live then its going to need ten to twenty times the data bandwith of 2186p

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Crabba
Friday, October 07, 2011 @ 4:18:37 PM
Reply

Just because it's new, doesn't mean it's better. Just because it's digital, doesn't mean it's new, or better.

For streaming video, it makes sense. You pay your monthly subscription bill and if it was a perfect world you could watch anything you wanted right then and there. For downloading 30gb games or movies to keep, it doesn't make any sense at all. Takes longer, has more restrictions, and gives you less value, at often the same price or more. Until that changes, I'll stick to physical media.

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Lawless SXE
Friday, October 07, 2011 @ 5:29:53 PM
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How does "No sh*t Sherlock" sound to ya?

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___________
Saturday, October 08, 2011 @ 2:37:29 AM
Reply

id be happy to go DL only, as long as they would be the ones coughing up the millions it would cost to upgrade our infrastructure, and the hundreds extra it would take in monthly bills.
till then, no thanks!
oh and another bad thing about DL only is its easy to lock down games till street date.
almost every single game breaks street date here, but since i prefer playing on PC i have to wait till street date.
RAGE released on tuesday when it was not suppose to release till thursday, though i had to wait till the latter because steam had it locked till then.
pain in the a$$ too, i could of had 2 extra days to finish it before i go away next thursday!
:(

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faraga
Sunday, October 09, 2011 @ 2:54:50 AM
Reply

I have quite a fast broadband connection and I recently upgraded my PS3's HDD to 500GB, but still I prefer having actual physical boxes in my collection. I often forget to include the games on my hard disc when I'm counting my games, as they are not physically 'there'.

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Ather
Sunday, October 09, 2011 @ 3:29:44 PM
Reply

Downloading on broadband can be a nightmare, too. With the Welcome back package, it took 8 hours to d/l Infamous. I'm chalking it up to overloaded servers (because I've never had that problem since), but that's the thing. What happens when everybody downloads Gears of War 7 at the same time? Physical Media is gone, digital is it. And we're on hour 12 and only 33% done because everybody's d/ling at the same time.

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SS4
Monday, October 10, 2011 @ 1:35:39 AM
Reply

The biggest problem is that NA is like in the stone age for internet compare to the rest of the world with crappy avg download/upload speed and retarted ISP that impose useless Download cap because they are too greedy and they know that most consumer will put up with it anyway coz they are too lazy to look for alternative(Indie ISP tend to offer better pricing and unlimited bandwidth usage).

So yeah, until the consumer wake up, the big telecom will keep the internet slow and gouge money out of the mass of North America...

Definitely not ready for a download only system because of this :P

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Caanimal
Monday, October 10, 2011 @ 1:48:33 PM

SS4, you think NA is horrible for ISP limitations and such? You should look around the world and see things are MUCH worse in some places... Take China for example, the population is SEVERLY limited on where they can go on the Internet, and if you do violate their laws you can get hit w/ high fines and even jail time. India has super slow internet speeds plus some of the worse DL caps that I've ever heard about.

Fact of the matter is that there are way to many limitations still in place around the world for anyone to go DDL exclusively, and Sony has seen that. I don't forsee DDL being the "norm" for at least 10 years, possibly more.

In a report I saw recently something like only 10% of the world has better than 5Mbps DL rates, and those that do are paying around $80 for those higher rates, I personally don't want to have to pay twice for my video games, by that I mean buy the game for XX amount on top of what I pay for internet already, especially if it takes me half a day to DL it and have to stay connected to the internet to play it...

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Bandit King
Monday, October 10, 2011 @ 7:19:29 AM
Reply

I'm sorry but I say screw any digital only device. I do not support a digital only future, there are just too many draw backs. From DRM, to true content ownership, content availability and bandwidth its a system designed to put content providers in control of what you paid for. Think about it (especially in these times) a company you have all your movies digitally with goes out of business, you can bet part of their bankruptcy sale is not going to include making sure you still have access to your movies. I can watch and play all my games and movies whenever I want, and will be able to another 10 yrs from now. Can you say the same?

Last edited by Bandit King on 10/10/2011 7:21:24 AM

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Crabba
Monday, October 10, 2011 @ 5:02:24 PM

Couldn't agree more, well said.

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zard
Monday, October 10, 2011 @ 6:01:28 PM
Reply

I hope that downloadable only doesn't happen until internet is free for the world because there are a lot of people, even the gamers i work with at gamestop, who cant afford the internet! It would be unfair to us who cannot afford internet service to not be able to game just because a company assumes that everyone these days has internet. I wouldn't want to have to go to wegmans or burger king just for the free wifi every time i wanted a game.

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partys2
Monday, October 10, 2011 @ 6:36:12 PM
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Digital download systems can't happen untill we have 100GBps download speeds around the world

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