Expect Only AAA NGP Games to Be Available At Retail

We know that the NGP will have physical media, and it was not a surprise; it’d be a stupid financial decision on Sony’s part to go all-digital after the PSPGo fiasco, and consumers would suffer mightily thanks to the Playstation Store’s tendency to never, ever drop prices on most of the retail titles it sells digitally.

This doesn’t mean Sony is going completely traditional with its NGP sales model, though, because they won’t be selling all, or even the majority, of NGP titles in stores.

“Clearly if you have large blockbuster gaming experiences, then downloading them is perhaps not the best experience, therefore having physical media is a great advantage.”

That word comes from Andrew House, who’s the big boss at SCE Europe. (Check MCV for the rest of his comments on the matter.) He follows that up by saying that while every NGP title that you can find in a store will also show up in the Playstation Store, it won’t necessarily work the other way around, and he asserts the digital-only model will be the most cost-effective approach for a lot of releases.

This is the kind of quote that doesn’t necessarily mean anything in terms of how the NGP games market will shake out when the thing is released, but I would assume this is what Sony is advising publishers as they put together games for the new handheld. This could mean one or several of a few different things, but what it comes down to in my mind is as follows:

Sony wants to exert as much control over the games market as possible, which is not unreasonable. Most AAA titles for the NGP will be published by Sony, and so they’ll have strict pricing control over those titles, and by encouraging third parties to go digital-only, they also have more control over those prices as well (aside from the used games market, of course), and can do more to push folks into Playstation Plus subscriptions and the like. Worst case is that they keep the current PSN price model, where all “retail-level” titles are released at a specific yet-to-be-determined price point and stay at that point far longer than they should.

There is another possibility, however. It could be that we’ll see a staggered pricing model for games, in which publishers will set the price for games at whatever makes the most fiscal sense, like how it works on Steam, which is what console gamers have been waiting for ever since current-generation retail titles began popping up on the Playstation Network and Xbox Live.

But this is guesswork. And hopework.

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