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PS4 set for digital focus, multiple subscription models

It looks like PlayStation Plus was just the start. Head of Sony Worldwide Studios Shuhei Yoshida has stated, speaking to The Guardian, that a content subscription model built around multiple tiers might become integral to the PlayStation 4's business model, with digital downloads certainly being the dominant software format.

"We’re shifting our platform more and more to the digital side – PS4 will be similar to PS Vita in that every game will be available as a digital download, and some will also be available as a disc. The Witness will be a digital release and because of the flexibility of the digital distribution scheme, we can have more small games that might be free or available for a couple of dollars, or different services like free-to-play or subscription models.”

He went on to explain the thinking behind those models and their delivery which, unsurprisingly, is where the PS4's Gaikai streaming technology comes in.

“So hypothetically we can look at different models – like a cable TV company. We could have gold, silver or platinum levels of membership, something like that. We can do subscription services when we have more content – especially now that we have the Gaikai technology available. With one subscription you have access to thousands of games – that’s our dream.”

It's highly doubtful that any kind of a subscription model would ever replace traditional game-buying on the PS4, but the extra flexibility, not to mention potential value, is going to be an interesting development to keep an eye on. Particularly in terms of its long-term impact on the wider gaming market.

13 comments

  • Shinn - February 28, 2013 11:19 p.m.

    Digital is barely a viable option in many smaller countries such as New Zealand. The only people I have ever met with data caps high enough to download a game or two a month are other gamers, and even then we have to be very careful about how much data we use. Most people cannot afford the higher capped plans.
  • wadesmit - February 25, 2013 12:23 p.m.

    I kind of like the idea of an expanded PS+ model. It was almost like renting a bunch of game (way more than I could finish). Could be people could theoretically shift to subscribing to one of those models and see that providing every game they play for a year, rather than picking and choosing each game. Interesting things on the horizon, each of them twitching with regretful realisation that my country has shockingly sub-par internet.
  • Talvari - February 25, 2013 10:50 a.m.

    Mmm, agreed. Guess we'll literally just have to see how things pan out, still got E3 and stuff for more info i guess. Still not a fan that the whole digital distribution thing is the way of the future as i still enjoy having my physical copies :| If i have the option to get a physical disc over digital download i'll do that anyday...though my internet is pretty bad and with games getting big in size nowadays...digital download is always a last resort for me xD. It's only a matter of time until it becomes the norm though i suppose T.T Also thanks for the avatar compliment :D
  • Talvari - February 25, 2013 10:51 a.m.

    I uhh..this was meant to be a reply to Letter11 and i can't figure out how to delete this comment so uhm..yeah.. >.>
  • Letter11 - February 25, 2013 12:44 p.m.

    Hehe, this made me laugh. But yeah, I prefer physical copies same as you. Something nice about looking on your shelf and knowing you own something tangible. Especially with the confusing revelation that PSN games will not be transferable to the PS4. It makes me a bit weary of welcoming the future, but Steam has shown me that digital can be done right. So like you said, more information to come, so let's hope for the best. (On a random note, I've watched that Wii U Xeno trailer like a hundred times!)
  • Talvari - February 26, 2013 8:55 a.m.

    E3 should be interesting this year after the previous year..but that's not really hard to do..xD Also dear god i've also watched that trailer so many times ;.; It embodies everything i want from a game if it's gonna be like Xenoblade :D
  • Child Of Death - February 25, 2013 9:36 a.m.

    As long as I dont have to pay to play online then Im ok with this.
  • Robx - February 25, 2013 8:38 a.m.

    I have been a Plus member and I am entirely satisfied with the service, as soon as I got a Vita, it already had me hooked up right away with Wipeout 2048, Gravity Rush and Uncharted, along a few other titles, and by the time I was done with these, a few other titles became available, without mentioning the ones I get for the PS3 under the same subscription. So I'm completely fine with the service as it is, not too sure what to think about this change. What I'm not so happy about is the online store, as games in there are priced much, much higher than what you could get a physical copy for, so we'll have to wait and see.
  • BladedFalcon - February 25, 2013 8:31 a.m.

    As long as the overall online experience remains free, I'm fine if they want to expand the PSN Plus thing into tiers *shrugs*
  • sandplasma - February 25, 2013 8:30 a.m.

    Just another step to curb piracy. I like having a physical copy of the game and try to keep my digital purchases to a minimum. I will only buy digital when the prices are 50-60% off due to a sale. (Steam). Infact, many times I will either way for the sale or not buy it at all. You'd think that these games should be around the $40 especially now that these companies dont have to print cds. Any game selling at $60 is ludicrous in my opinion which is why I only buy 1 a year at that price if I must have it.
  • sternparez - February 25, 2013 7:18 a.m.

    I love having the physical product and all that, but I may go down this route for PS4, purely due to space reasons!
  • Talvari - February 25, 2013 5:41 a.m.

    "PS4 will be similar to PS Vita in that every game will be available as a digital download, and some will also be available as a disc." - This worries me slightly :| Will be interesting to see what the tier stuff is all about though i guess >.>.
  • Letter11 - February 25, 2013 7:15 a.m.

    I found that part a bit dubious as well, but I'm hoping by 'some' he means every game that you would expect to have a disc based release. From the AAA to the B tier. Honestly if we looked at how the landscape has changed, significantly more games are released digitally than physically anyways, I suppose they are just embracing the future. I hope that the lack of distribution costs will allow us to see more games like Xenoblade Chronicles (nice avatar), and The Last Story localized not as an after thought. Hopefully too, they will embrace some of the tactics that Steam uses to have games sales and bundles. Because there are some games that come out that I would enjoy playing, but I feel do not offer the value of their initial asking price. The idea of having the entire Playstation library, past and present, at my finger tips makes me giddy. And judging from how Sony has handled Playstation Plus, I look forward to seeing what they can do.

Showing 1-13 of 13 comments

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