Game Consoles With Disc Drives Aren't Going Away Anytime Soon, EA Says
A digital-only future is still pretty far off, EA says.
Given the rapid rise in digital gaming, how much longer will video game consoles have disc drives? And how much longer will consoles even exist when streaming is sure to take over? Quite a while longer, according to Electronic Arts CFO Blake Jorgensen. Speaking during a Nasdaq event on December 5, the executive said you can expect consoles--and consoles with disc drives--to stay around for years to come.
"Consoles and disc drives probably stay around for a long period of time," Jorgensen said. "I think it's the consumer deciding what's the easiest way for them to buy a game. And it may mean they no longer have a store down the street from them so they decide to buy it [digitally] maybe it's easier for them to do."
Not having to leave your home is just one of the benefits of digital gaming; Jorgensen also mentioned that things like the ability to pre-load make digital gaming appealing. Right now the download rate for EA console games is in the 30 percent range, Jorgensen said, while this is at 80-90 percent on PC. These figures are expected to grow further still, and this is good news for EA, as the margin profile for digital games is better than packaged ones that have to be sold in a store. Although with digital games, EA still has to give Microsoft and Sony a cut for selling on their storefronts.
Jorgensen added that EA's partnerships with physical retailers like GameStop are important. But at the end of the day, the consumers will decide where they want to buy games, and that could spell trouble for brick-and-mortar retailers
In 2014, Xbox boss Phil Spencer revealed that Microsoft had a "real discussion" about whether or not the Xbox One should have an optical disc drive. Spencer said Microsoft didn't do this in part because of concerns around bandwidth and game size. Indeed, internet speeds vary from place to place, and it's not uncommon for AAA video games to exceed 50 GB in size--and that's before all the follow-on updates and new content.
Sony launched the digital-only PSP Go in 2009, but discontinued it just two years later. Some in the industry, including Tekken boss Katsuhiro Harada, believe that the future of console is in services as opposed to dedicated hardware. "When there's the PS5, it will probably be just a controller and a monitor," Harada said at the time. "Then, the thing that will be left is the name of the service."
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