By Jonathan Charles | Jul 06, 2012 01:01 PM EDT
In an interview with gaming Web site MCV, David Darling - co-founder of Codemasters - said retailers cannot control pricing models. Games at retail for consoles are usually $60, whereas an Xbox Live Arcade game such as Minecraft costs a third at $20.
"Sony and Microsoft cannot let the retailers dictate game prices going forward if they want to break free from the current over-priced model, their next consoles, PlayStation 4 and Xbox 720 need to be digital only, or they will fail.
"Consoles have become like dinosaurs heading for extinction as their natural retail habitat begins to change. These ancient beasts must now adapt to a new environment where platforms like Steam, Facebook and Apple's App Store are pushing innovation," Darling said.
Steam was rumored to be producing a console, similar in form factor to Alienware's PC-in-a-console. The Verge's sources made it sound like the Android of the gaming industry: open source to everyone, including competitors such as EA with its Origin service.
"The industry is transitioning from boxed to digital games. Physical media like DVD is dying out and gaming is rapidly moving to digital distribution. If hardware manufacturers such as Sony and Microsoft do not manage this transition soon, they will be overtaken and left behind by companies who are embracing digital distribution wholly and completely," Darling added.
The rumor of Apple entering the gaming space has been suggested partly due to the success of the iOS App Store. At the All Things Digital D10 conference in 2012, Apple CEO Tim Cook said that it wouldn't enter the gaming industry in the "traditional" sense. That could refer to consoles, and a digital distribution service as Darling mentioned.
There's also the issue of bandwidth supporting downloading games digitally: Battlefield 3 is a 15GB download from Origin. Consumers who buy multiple games a week could quickly approach 100GB.
The value of used games is also decreasing with the rise of online passes, such as that in Battlefield 3, which are needed to play online and are a one-time use. Other rumors earlier in 2012 said next-generation consoles would block used games; the PlayStation 4 would support a trial version of game, with a link to buy and download the full title.
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