Sony decides to keep optical drive for next PlayStation console

Sony decides to keep optical drive for next PlayStation console

Summary: 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.

TOPICS: Browser

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?

Topic: Browser

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  • See not every company is run by brain dead fools.

    Internet speeds are not consistent, or reliable, so the physical drive makes sense. All this crap we hear about "to the cloud" is just that, crap!What good is a computer, phone, game console, etc, if you can't enjoy it, without an internet connection?
    Jumpin Jack Flash
    • Comment I can agree with

      While I totally feel that the Cloud has a place, it is not in the consumer household just yet. With bandwidth caps and inconsistent connections and speeds all across the country, the infrastructure has a long way to go before digital downloads become the norm. Although I read an article recently about gaming becoming a situation where the game runs on the server and the local computer is more of a thin client. Wish I could remember where I read it.
      Arthur Whitehouse
    • .

      Very well said.
  • To be fair, Sony has some more concrete data

    Namely, the PSPGo was a total and utter flop. I'm all for digital distribution. My Steam library is truly massive, and I've got quite a few games that I bought from Xbox Live and the PSN. Traditional media still has a place though, ESPECIALLY in consoles. Throwing a giant HDD into every console is a pretty large boost in production costs, and that giant HDD is required if you're going to make a console that relies solely on digital distribution. A very large part of why people like consoles so much is if a buddy comes over on a whim and you decide to play a game you haven't played in a long time, you don't have to sit around for an hour to redownload it. Just pop it in and go. That's ALWAYS been the console's strength. When you move away from that...well, you might as well just convert to PC gaming.
  • This is great news!

    "...the next Xbox console with also ship with an optical drive..."

    So both PlayStation and Xbox will have optical drives. This is great news because people will have the option of downloading or getting games on physical media.

    I personally like having a disk in my hand, especially after you shell out small fortune for it.
  • Concession as a media device?

    John Doe goes looking for a new device to play games on, watch movies, use some apps, etc. The PS4 was shipped without an optical drive while the XBox 720 has one. Which device gets picked up? This really was a no brainer. Since more people are using cloud-based services for entertainment, but still not relying on them exclusively (RedBox anyone?), it would certainly hurt their market share.

    The ironic part is that Sony also makes movies and would then be hurting their own DVD sales...

    There are already gaming devices without optical drives. We call them mobile devices and optical drive-free laptops/desktops. Sony doesn't want to get into truly direct competition with Steam by only doing downloadable content because they'll lose and lose badly.
  • In retrospect...

    ...just think how much better the world would have been if Panasonic had won with the HD-DVD standard instead of the resoundingly rejected BlueRay. Blockbuster and BestBuy wouldn't be on the ropes, and Apple iTunes would still be fighting for movie market share against strong HD-DVD sales. We wouldn't be buying terrabyte drives for backup like candy, and the iPad would have a physical media drive. Oh well.
    Tony Burzio
    • HD-DVD would have been in the same boat

      You're joking, right?

      The point of this article has little to do with the format, and everything to do with the fundamental question of whether consoles should have a local media drive [b]at all[/b]. Do you have any evidence that HD-DVD could have changed that calculation, or are you just trolling to see if you can reignite the long-dead Blu-ray vs. HD-DVD debate?

      I may be in the camp that believed Blu-ray the technically superior format, and I will concede a lot of the fight occurred on corporate, not technical, battlegrounds, but I think the more relevant question now is: How long we will continue to purchase software on physical media -- and similarly, how long will we still be able to find systems (personal computers or game consoles) with media drives?
    • I liked choice in both....

      I saw nothing wrong with competing optical media however your argument is strictly preference. In your scenario the Playstation would have less market share and Xbox may have integrated the HD-DVD drive, a definite victory for Microsoft. Apple would still encourage movies and television through the Apple Store. Picture quality was 1080 high def in both formats and audio was THX certifiable on both formats. I have maintained my HD-DVD external drive for the Xbox and 2 LG burners capable of playing both high def formats (Blu-Ray and HD-DVD) as well as my PS3 for Blu-Ray. Unfortunately like Beta and VHS, I guess 1 had to go. I hope for the long term some form of optical (or media stick) media still allows us the luxury of loading and use or we will suffer at the expense and limit of our bandwidth providers.
  • Optical drives = 1UP!

    If Sony does partner with a cloud gaming partner service (that streams games as video) they should do it as a supplement to having to download the game.

    E.g.: If you have have a fast internet connection with low ping time, you can play it as a streamed game (like OnLive) right away before it's fully download. The game can download fully during downtime (while you're not playing) and when it's done, you get better graphics by having it installed locally. The streaming capability should not cost anything extra because it's the same game, but I would say that they should offer it one other way: as a low-cost subscription rental service where you don't have to pay full price for each game. I would really hope that they don't limit the catalog to just a select set of old games though. If they raised the price to compensate for new titles, that would be far better. Instead of OnLive's $9.99 which doesn't have any new games, charge $15-20/mth (NO MORE!) and include first run titles too. I have a fast internet connection, so I would rather just rent and stream. OnLive works great for me, but I hate the selection, and new games cost too much to buy (which is why I used to rent all the time, but then Blockbuster closed down). I say: "give me a contract and I'll pay it - so long as I can get access to the latest games too. I don't really care much about DLC, but if I want DLC, I'll pay full pop for it." Now how can any gaming company say that that customer won't be profitable for the business model?
  • Optical is important for legacy games

    You know I thought Apple was too early dropping the optical from Mac Mini and I think it would be pre mature to do so on a console. One problem I see is a lack of storage on the consoles. The other problem is I know not everyone in the US has broadband or decent broadband speed. I think we over estimate the coverage. I think we are giving up on optical too fast and in the end companies might actually lose sales because of it.
  • Media obsolescence

    How many of us had to buy a USB 3.5" diskette drive? ZIP drive? One of the biggest problems with media is obsolescence. At least with optical media, we have at least standardized on the 5.25" disc form factor, which allows for backward compatibility. (Admit it, you've played a music CD in your PS3, just to hear it on your surround sound system with a good sub.) How many years will it be before you can't even find a port to plug in your USB drive? (Parallel port cables are the new buggy-whip.)

    I am at least hoping that when we eventually have Gamma-Ray (GR-RW?) drives, you can play your ancient CDs in without having them disintegrated.

    On one hand, downloading software is media-agnostic, which is nice right now. On the flip side, I will second others here that there is something gratifying about purchasing something and having a tangible object in your hand to signify this. Having long-lived backup media in hand at the time of purchase is a nice side benefit.
  • PreOwned & Backward Compatibility

    PreOwned & Backword compatability are two things that Sony should not underestimate. Many console gamers buy new tiles knowing they can sell it later to buy another new title. How do you sell your preowned digital content? Also a lot gamer cannot afford new and only buy used. Again how do you buy preowned digital content?

    Backword compatability of current PS3 titles is a must in my opinoin therefore a disc drive is still needed to support the very large number of PS3 games on disc that will still be around for some time