Sony Decides To Not Go Disc-Free For Next Gaming Console

With the next generation of gaming consoles set to debut during the next two years, rumors abound about whether or not digitally downloaded or cloud-stored games will replace the current disc-based standard. A new Wall Street Journal report claims that, for Sony at least, the day of the disc isn’t done yet.

Citing those ever-dependable “people familiar with the matter,” the Journal says that Sony had considered going down the disc-free road for its next, currently unnamed successor to the PlayStation 3, but when the new console debuts in 2013, it will ultimately include a drive to play discs.

The reasons for sticking with discs are several, explain the sources. First, there’s Sony’s relationships with the bricks-and-mortar retailers who, while shrinking in market share, still bring in boatloads of cash to the electronics giant.

Then there’s the fact that not everyone has constant Internet access or the bandwidth to download the huge files. PlayStation 3 games use Blu-ray discs which can hold more than 20GB of data.

What the Journal doesn’t mention is that the optical drive would also allow people to play their PS3 games on the new console. That will be very important in terms of getting users to adopt the new technology, as people will not want to be stuck with a pile of games that don’t work in the new console.

And while Sony may be including the optical drive in the console, that doesn’t mean that the downloadable game market won’t continue to expand at a rapid pace. Having options is a good thing.

Sony Considers–but Rejects–Online-Only Game Console []


Edit Your Comment

  1. Bsamm09 says:

    Just pre-ordered my copy of MW4 for PS4!!!! Found a site to take the order. Had to pay by Western Union though. Also, these games are expensive. $500.00 for the Mega Hardened Edition.

    • dolemite says:

      Yeah, but it’s worth it. MW4 has the ability to upgrade guns and get perks and run around maps with 5-6 people on a team killing people. It’s amazing how far the series has come in only 5-6 years.

      • 8bithero says:

        I heard you can even get maps through DLC!

        It’s going to be AMAZING!!!

      • nemesiscw says:

        But does it feature real time weapon change? And can you hit the enemy’s weak point for massive damage?

      • Sian says:

        I hear it’s going to have maps based on famous battles that actually took place in feudal Afghanistan.

  2. d3vpsaux says:

    Good call. Not to mention that with those having the broadband access to legitimately download said games could be limited by their monthly data cap imposed by their ISP.

    • TVGenius says:

      Exactly. I laugh every time people say Blu-Ray is dead because we’ll stream everything in two years. Good luck with that, considering the way things are headed with data caps…

  3. eccsame says:

    Good for Sony. I, for one, would be really wary of any system where I didn’t physically “own” the software and am unable get my fingerprints all up in it. I know that day is coming, but I’m just barely comfortable with buying music without liner notes.

    • rugman11 says:

      Especially given that there’s no guarantee that you’ll get those games back should the system cease functioning.

      • Black Knight Rebel says:

        Well, no. The PSN does let you have unlimited downloads of any digital items you’ve purchased. Your console breaking won’t be a problem.

        What’s should be of greater concern is 20 years after the console is no longer being supported. I can still play the games on my Sega Genesis cartridges, but what if instead I had been suckered into the super early DLC that Sega had for their genesis (yes there was console DLC even back then)

        The Game Toshokan was a a flop and is no longer functional. I’d never get to play my games again even though I gave Sega my real world money.

    • Sian says:

      you already have to be connected constantly while you’re playing or the game will lock you out, so there’s not much security in disc-in-hand anymore. Thanks Ubisoft!

  4. JonBoy470 says:

    I’d say there are still enough people who aren’t technically savvy enough to get their consoles on the interwebs. Hence this design decision…

    • amuro98 says:

      What about all the parents who don’t want their kids’ console on the internet for various reasons?

      Anyways, I don’t know why this is such news. Sony announced months ago that the PS4 was not going to be “download only” citing many of the same reasons we’ve already gone over.

    • Geekybiker says:

      I not going to be surprised if an online connection is required to play most ps4/xbox720 games. They might use it for authentication like steam or diablo III. The disc drive is for brick and mortar sales, and compatibility with older titles.

  5. shepd says:

    Glad I started PC gaming again. I stopped for 10 years while the industry found a way to make PC gaming as easy as console gaming and I’m pleasantly surprised with the results. Sony can do whatever they like with their new console–it could require inserting a pear into the thing to boot it up for all care! :D

  6. El_Fez says:

    What the Journal doesn’t mention is that the optical drive would also allow people to play their PS3 games on the new console.

    . . .. for six months until Sony decides to pull that functionality from the console.

    • That guy. says:

      Exactly what was about to post.

      Just because it’s an optical drive doesn’t mean the hardware will be designed in a way to run PS3 & PS4 games. It may be like the launch PS3s where it bascially had PS2 hardware in there.

    • thefncrow says:

      Yeah, if it’s even in there at launch. It’s just rumor, but the scuttlebutt going around is that Sony is ditching the Cell architecture for something more like what’s used in 360/PC. This would be a big deal because it means that any PS3 compatibility would have to either include a dedicated Cell processor (driving up costs) or Sony would have to come up with some sort of emulator, which would be difficult given Cell’s weird architecture.

    • Kuri says:

      Which means I’ll be waiting to see if they do.

  7. BurtReynolds says:

    Good, maybe I can consider buying one. I don’t buy digital media unless it is under $5. Above that, I want a disc so I have something to show for my money other than a EULA that says they can kill the game/music/movie whenever they feel like it.

    • Geekybiker says:

      I would predict that the new consoles are going to have an online authentication system even for disc based titles similar to Diablo 3. That means once you’ve used a key the disc is worthless. Helps combat both piracy and used sales without going to a strict DD model.

  8. r-nice says:

    I don’t think there was ever a serious possiblity of this happening. They need B&M stores to sell their consoles. Going download only wouldn’t have sat too well with them. Plus the obvious infrastructure point.

    • dwtomek says:

      It might not have sat well, but do you honestly believe when that day comes that retailers will refuse to sell the consoles? “NO! I refuse to make money selling your console because I can no longer make further profits off of that console!” I for one do not see that happening.

      • SerenityDan says:

        Well a lot of places were not stocking the PSP GO for that exact reason so….

      • rugman11 says:

        You seem to be under the impression that retailers make a significant amount of money from console sales. Like most high-end electronics, they typically make very little, hoping instead to make their profit off of cables, controllers, and other accessories.

    • BurtReynolds says:

      Solution? Jack up the prices of accessories to throw some profit to the retailers who don’t sell games anymore. Enjoy your $70 PS4 controller.

  9. Kuri says:

    Well, Sony has thrown down this gauntlet, I think the Wii U is also going to use physical discs, so, your moves Microsoft.

    • SerenityDan says:

      Considering the Wii U plays original Wii games there’s no way it doesn’t have an optical drive.

      • Kuri says:

        Fair enough, I should say the first one to go disc free would probably be handing business to their competitors.

  10. Costner says:

    They will need to keep a disc player if for no other reason than people want to use their gaming consoles as DVD / Blu-Ray players. Since Sony is heavily invested in Blu-Ray, they would be idiotic to not continue to push the platform.

    That said, I would not doubt that they install some type of mechanism to prevent discs from being sold and used on other consoles after the initial purchase. There will be codes or somethign etched in the disk that will only work on one console… the used game market will cease to exist with next generation consoles. Speaking as someone who rarely buys games new and who typically buys used games this is a real bummer.

    • Kuri says:

      Except many experts and analysts agree that whoever makes that move would be committing suicide.

  11. Craige says:

    “…currently unnamed successor to the PlayStation 3…”

    I’d like to wager a guess as to the name.

  12. techstar25 says:

    Sony won that silly “format war” because the PS3 could play Blu-Ray discs. Why take that away now? This decision has nothing to do with gaming and everything to do with selling more Blu-Rays. The absence of a BD player would have prognosticators coming out of the woodwork claiming “Sony is admitting Blu-Ray is dead!!!!!”

  13. amuro98 says:

    Download-Only means No-Sale for me.

    Especially since PSN is so slow it took me over a week to download Prototype as part of Sony’s “Welcome back” promotion.

    It also doesn’t help that all the retail games on PSN and Xbox Live cost as much – or more – than the ones in the stores. Then there’s the used market…

    • Kuri says:

      The used market isn’t so bad.

      As for download speeds, I had Infamous and Dead Nation downloaded in under an hour.

  14. shinseiromeo says:

    Perfect example on why DLC sucks and should never exist as an only option:

    A friend of mine had his launch PS3 die a month ago. He bought a new slim model in retail and set everything up. I was over his house a few days ago and he popped in Singstar that lets you download extra songs to your hard drive. He loaded the game on his new system and checked his purchase history. The 20+ songs show up but an error also appeared stating his console does for have the ‘usage rights’ to redownload the songs it clearly stated he already purchased. The only recourse is emailing Sony and having to wait 5-7 business days to ‘unlock’ what you already paid for!

    Also, what happens when you downloaded 500GB of games and your system dies… Good luck waiting ages to redownloaded what you own.

    • James says:

      You back up the system to a $50 harddrive.

      Then you swap the hardrive if it has failed, or put it in the new system so you have not loast anything really.

      It isn’t quite that easy, but there are easy enough instructions on the web to follow.

    • dush says:

      The extra special stupidity is that digital download games cost the same price as physical games with packaging and booklet.

      • Kuri says:

        Depends on what you get. I purchased Pixeljunk shooter on sale for five bucks.

        • BurtReynolds says:

          Hence why $5 is my limit for digital media. Games, music, movies…doesn’t matter. I have a handful of games from PSN that were $2-3 along with my free copies of Infamous, Dead Nation, Wipeout HD, and Super Stardust HD (I have two PS3s with different PSN accounts).

  15. ZenListener says:

    I used to like consoles. There were times when I just wanted to fire one up and play a quick game. I didn’t have to worry about booting up the computer and waiting for the OS to load.

    Having a PS3 and XBox 360 for a few years now I’ve come to the conclusion that I don’t like consoles any more. When I built my new computer I figured I would start the Windows 7 install and play a game on one of them. It turns out it too longer to start the consoles and wait for the firmware upgrade to complete than it did for Windows to install.

    In fact, after the big Sony fiasco a while back I actually dread turning on the PS3 because I’m used to a new firmware coming out every few days to stop those evil hackers from finding a way to jailbreak it. So I haven’t turned it on in, oh, two months now.

    And it annoys me that I have to pay Microsoft $10 a month to watch Netflix, which I’m already paying for. And I have to pay Microsoft $10 a stream things from my own DLNA server. And to download ‘free’ content from games. And on and on and on.

    So you all go ahead and snarf up the latest console, which will still have a lesser processor and video component than my computer. I’m tired of them. Let me know when they go back to simplicity and all I need to do is flip the power switch to play a game — without worrying about being on the Internet or having another firmware update.

    In the meantime, I’ll play games on the computer until they fade away. I don’t think it’ll be long in coming, frankly.

    • Mark702 says:

      If you’re worried about playing games, don’t cry about the Netflix/XBL-Gold issue. As for “just boot and play”, you can set the 360 to load disc instead of dashboard, so that solves your issue. But it sounds like you’d rather rant on about how pc is better than consoles, so whatever.

  16. dush says:

    Sony going disc free would have meant Sony going customer free.

  17. ned4spd8874 says:

    No disc = no sale. I guess I’m an old fart, but I prefer to have a hard copy of things I pay for. Granted, I have and still do purchase downloadable items from the PlayStation store. But I refuse to purchase a console where that is the only option.

  18. suez says:

    Not to mention that my PS3 also serves as my DVD player so that I can watch my own collection as well as all those movie from Netflix that don’t stream. I would not buy another gaming console from them if it meant losing one of the main functions for which I’d bought it.

  19. YouDidWhatNow? says:

    For the 1-in-5 Americans who live in rural areas, this means that the new Sony console is still valid. Generally speaking, I’d say that just thumbing your nose at 20% of your possible market is just pretty dumb.

  20. guspaz says:

    Luckily, BluRay is a fairly future-compatible standard, since it was designed with the intent to increase capacity in the future by adding more layers (among other things).

    Already, we’ve seen BR max capacity increased from 50GB on 2 layers to 128GB on 4 layers (BDXL), with only minor changes required to the hardware (some need nothing more than a firmware update). We may see BDXL support in Sony’s next console, since it wouldn’t cost them much to support it, even if they decide not to use it initially (presumably quad-layer BDXL discs cost more to press).

    • Bickle says:

      BDXL. Will never be used in a pressed commercial format. The expense and yields are simply so much lower that it’s not even close to cost effective to do so over 2 BD50. Given that most games, even on PC top out well under 20GB, it’s simply unnecessary in the first place. If you notice, Universal had abandoned their DVD/Blu hybrid releases. Those are several orders of magnitude easier to create than a BDXL.

  21. Bickle says:

    You can’t play PS3 games on PS4. It uses a completely different CPU. The CELL in the PS3 has many small co-processors that are virtually impossible to emulate, and don’t have equivalents in other families

    Backwards compatibility, while something a lot of people howl about, is not something that people actually USE In reality in any large numbers. Something like 3% of PS3 owners did when that ability was in every unit

    Nothing is stopping you from leaving both hooked up