March 7, 2011
Publishers are starting to see the benefit to releasing full game downloads on console the same day the retail version hits store shelves.
Speaking at the Morgan Stanley Technology Conference in San Francisco last week, Electronic Arts CEO John Riccitiello seemed pleased with the digital version of Mass Effect 2 for PlayStation 3, a 12GB download released the same day as the Blu-ray version.
"Sony had never done a day and day release," he said. "They were very cautious about their infrastructure so it was mostly a technology test."
Riccitiello admitted that while EA did "absolutely nothing" to market the PS3 version, the digital copy captured a double-digit percent of total sales for Mass Effect 2 on PS3. EA has not revealed a specific sales number since launch, but Riccitiello said it was "meaningful."
"This was really more about proving it can be done than it was proving what the opportunity would be," he added. "So an unmarketed game one year after the original was done on the Xbox and the PC, we released the PS3 and managed to do very, very well with it."
Riccitiello later explained that one of the main hiccups causing publishers from doing more day and day, full game downloads on consoles are the retail policies between Sony and Microsoft.
"They have got to manage both selling boxes at retail, and it's generally a pretty thin margin business," he said. "And so they basically negotiate and leverage shelf space on the promise of making retail margin on software."
Currently, PlayStation Network in North America offers short of a dozen full game downloads that are also available at retail, including Warhawk, MAG, and Prototype. Xbox Live, meanwhile, offers over 200 full game downloads.
©2011-03-07, IGN Entertainment, Inc. All Rights Reserved