Andrew House took over as President and CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment just last year, but already has a hardware launch under his belt. Today, the company’s latest handheld game system PS Vita hits European and U.S. shores, offering select games at a lower price when bought online. Despite certain titles not enjoying the digital discount, House believes PS Vita software pricing is “consumer friendly.”
Speaking to the official PlayStation Blog, the Sony boss touched directly on the physical vs. digital debate.
“Customers are telling us that they want both of those options – they like the immediacy and quick access that you get from a flash media solution but they don’t necessarily want to carry a lot of games around with them in addition to the device,” said House. “We’re trying to cater for both of those impulses, even though they’re slightly conflicted.”
Sony confirmed earlier this month that several PS Vita launch titles would see discounted digital versions, saving consumers an average of $5 per game when they purchased over the newly-minted Sony Entertainment Network instead of visiting a brick-and-mortar retailer for a physical copy. The trade-off was that they would also need to invest in a proprietary memory card, which start at $19.99 for 4GBs and top off with a $99 32GB model.
House said that Sony is “taking into account” the money saved on the manufacturing end when pricing the PS Vita’s digital downloads. Unfortunately, several third party publishers haven’t followed suit, leaving a handful of big-name launch titles the same price no matter how customers buy them.
Sony itself broke the standard $40 ceiling for handheld games by pricing the latest entry in its flagship “Uncharted” franchise $10 higher. A physical copy of “Uncharted: Golden Abyss” costs $49.99, while the digital download version is $44.99.
Whether gamers cling to time-tested physical media or go completely digital may hinge on how the latter is priced. The lack of a uniform pricing structure, combined with costly memory cards, could mean digital downloads are gimped from the get-go.
Did you pick up a PS Vita this week? Let us know what you think of it in the comment section.