We met with Sony Computer Entertainment of America Senior VP Scott Rohde and talked at length about the digital future of video games and other media on the PlayStation Network. When we asked him if Sony is moving towards a digital distribution model for games, he emphatically said, “It’s something we want to do, and it’s inevitable.”
Rohde manages all of Sony’s American first-party game development studios, including the studios behind Uncharted, God of War, LittleBigPlanet, Journey, Heavy Rain and Beyond: Two Souls, and many others. Sony’s competitor Nintendo already announced an aggressive plan for offering day-one digital downloads on its new Wii U console. Just because digital is gradually becoming an option doesn’t mean retail will go away soon, though.
“I think this is a natural progression,” Rohde said. “You’ll start to see more and more digital offerings across the board. And this is not just a Sony thing, you’re obviously going to see it across the board. It’s the way the world is progressing, not just Sony.”
He cited the announcement of a new initiative for paid PlayStation Plus subscribers (that’s Sony’s premium online service; basic access to the PlayStation’s online features is free) that offers numerous triple-A games as free downloads, available any time.
We also spoke about the recent trend towards games as online services, not just products, naming Call of Duty Elite, Diablo 3 and its requirement for an always-on internet collection for play, and massively multiplayer online games like Free Realms as examples. He wasn’t quite as emphatic about that model, but acknowledged that Sony and its competitors and partners are all experimenting with new ways of designing, delivering, and supporting games to see what works.
“There is no definitive answer about where we will go or where the whole industry will go… the whole industry is in an experimental phase to understand what consumers want and what makes them happy.”
You can read the full-length interview here at The Interactive, with more details about Sony’s digital downloads strategy, PlayStation Network’s TV and music offerings, how the new handheld Vita and the PS3 will handle multi-platform play experiences, and of course, the games themselves.
Image: Michel Ngilen