Sony decides to keep optical drive for next PlayStation console

While the electronics giant apparently mulled over shipping a new unit without a drive, it chose to keep the legacy component because Internet connection speeds vary so much around the world.

Despite the trend toward downloading games rather than buying them on disc, Sony reportedly plans to keep an optical drive in the next version of its PlayStation gaming console, according to the Wall Street Journal.

While the electronics giant apparently mulled over shipping a new unit without a drive -- the PS3 comes with a built-in Blu-ray player -- it chose to keep the legacy component because Internet connection speeds vary so much around the world. As a result, it may be difficult for many potential players to download games to the console's hard drive. The Journal says the next Xbox console with also ship with an optical drive for similar reasons.

Long-time gaming partners like GameStop, just starting to transition to the online downloading world, will be happy to hear the news, as such retailers could use all the help they can get as physical sales continue to erode. For instance, new smash Diablo III had presales of 2 million copies, but many of those were download purchases. Not surprisingly, GameStop had a bad first quarter, with revenues dropping 12.3 percent.

While it's clear that the long-term trend for video games is away from physical media, it looks like gamers will have to purchase one more generation of consoles that come with optical drives. Will you still use it, or download most of your content?

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