One of the most interesting conversations I had with video game industry folk at E3 — and boy, did I have a lot — was with Sony Senior Vice President Scott Rohde, who manages Sony’s first-party game development studios in the U.S., like the God of War team and so on.
The full interview will go up on The Interactive on Monday, but we just published one of the most interesting tidbits this morning. When I asked him if Sony is moving to a digital distribution strategy (that is, offering full, triple-A games for download, not just retail, like Mass Effect 3 earlier this year), he very definitively said, “It’s something we want to do, and it’s inevitable.”
You can read this morning’s article on the Sony PlayStation digital download strategy for some more details and quotes.
Suffice to say, this is exciting news for cord-cutters and folks who think it’s a little absurd that we’re still buying discs in jewel cases. The PC industry has already gone completely that way — we touched on that in the interview a bit also, but you’ll see most of that conversation on Monday.
You have to wonder, though, how news like this (and Nintendo’s own announcement that it will offer its first party games as digital downloads on their respective release dates, and strongly incentivize third parties to do the same) sounds to GameStop and Best Buy.
As analyst Michael Pachter is fond of saying on his GameTrailers talk show, the relationship between game publishers and retailers is a deeply established one. It’s not easily shaken, and if retailers feel threatened, I wonder whether publishers will be fair weather friends or not.
You could certainly argue that the digital download future looks better for publishers. We’re always hearing how used game sales are cutting into their profits; you can’t resell a download, can you?