Will Sony's Day 1 Digital Program Change The Way You Buy Games?

Steve Anderson : End Game
Steve Anderson
The Video Store Guy
| The video game industry has gone from a mole hill to a mountain in no time flat, Chris DiMarco is your Sherpa as you endeavor to scale Mount “Everquest”

Will Sony's Day 1 Digital Program Change The Way You Buy Games?

Before we segue into the actual explanation of what that headline means, let's just go right ahead and answer the question: it might. The problem here is that there is no definitive answer as it will depend on a variety of factors, but the answer for some will be yes please.

Cryptic, I know, but at the same time it fairly well demands an explanation. The question is, why is Sony's Day 1 Digital program going to be such a game-changer? Well, simply put, it's what some in the game industry have believed was coming for some time: a digital distribution system for new games on a console. Indeed, this practice has been going on for some time on consoles--Microsoft's Xbox 360 gets several new titles on Xbox Live Arcade--but here, we're talking about major, first-run releases. In fact, Sony will be offering these new releases, day and date, matched up with their disc-based counterparts.

We've heard the objections before, and they're no less valid now than they were the first time we heard them: bandwidth is still a problem for many. Digital games can't be resold and the result used to buy new games. Digital games boast no instruction manual or clever packaging.

But rather than shrug and tell its market "that's where we're going; suffer", Sony's Day 1 Digital offers an advantage: a discount on digital purchases over their disc-based counterparts. PlayStation Plus members--subscription cost for that is $50 per year--will get a 10 percent discount over their disc-based counterparts.

Admittedly, that's not much of an inducement. After all, even GameStop will do better than a $6 discount when you trade in a comparatively new game. Even the GameFly commercials that mock GameStop promise nine dollars for a trade-in. But throw in the convenience factor along with that discount and you might be talking about an offer that some might take.

Sony may be discovering the way to get gamers interested in a digital distribution scheme: give them direct benefit. While meager discounts and convenience won't be enough to get some gamers in the fold, for some it likely will. Considering the savings represented by a digital distribution scheme--no more discs, no more cases, no more shipping, no more shortages--you'd think that Sony et al would be willing to cut gamers in on the deal a bit harder than a token discount on inflated prices.

Sony, you're likely going to have to do better than that. But still, the idea is a sound one. The convenience factor is present and valuable, though maybe not sufficient to get people away from disc gaming. Resellers like GameStop will almost certainly pitch a fit and stop selling the hardware of anyone who tries a fully digital scheme. But we could be on to something here, and are merely seeing the beginnings of a change in the way we all buy--and play--games.
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