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Former Sony Executive predicts Apple could “be” the games industry

Tuesday, 21st June 2011 02:36 GMT By Brenna Hillier

Phil Harrison, former head of Sony’s Worldwide Studios, has predicted the death of physical media and said if Apple continues as it is, it “will be the games industry”.

“At this trajectory, if you extrapolate the market-share gains that they are making, forward for ten years – if they carry on unrestrained in their growth, then there’s a pretty good chance that Apple will be the games industry,” he predicted while speaking to EDGE.

Harrison made several references to “seamless purchasing” – the ease of handing money over to digital platforms through mobile devices like Apple’s iPhone.

“… The fact that the consumer purchase and discovery mechanism is so well integrated – you see something on the App Store, you click a button, the product delivers to your device. That end-to-end shopping experience, if you want to call it that, has been so elegantly built by Apple and they will continue to refine it.

“… Apple, Amazon, Steam – are showing the future of how content will be consumed, adding to that NetFlix and LoveFilm and the like, and that console companies run the risk of becoming a little antiquated unless they change their business model.”

Harrison said the business model of physical devices and $60 games is “almost at the end of its life”, but that current platform holders have a chance to adapt thatks to “fantastic strength in distribution of content online or with the brands of software that they’ve got.

“If that console, physical device goes away that’s fine but that doesn’t mean that PlayStation or Xbox as brands go away,” Harrison said.

“It could be that the game and browser of the future is powered by PlayStation, or powered by Xbox Live or Nintendo.

“I think that that’s where you’ll see the battleground: not necessarily putting boxes full of chips and hard drives into your living room but giving you a storefront, navigation, discovery, a business model and user-interface.”

Harrison commented that Microsoft and Sony are well-positioned to make the transition, but that Nintendo need more experience building online infrastructure. He’s backing free to play and user generated content over expensive blockbusters as the way forward for the games industry, pointing out that physical media is already disappearing.

“If you live in Korea, it’s already happened, if you live in China, it’s already happened,” he said.

“That’s an easy prediction to make: there is undoubtedly a generation of kids alive on the planet today who will never purchase a physical media package for any of their digital entertainment.

” … I have an iPhone and an iPad and I’m looking really hard at them but I can’t find a disc slot anywhere.”

Harrison’s interest in the future of cloud gaming is no secret; he recently took on a role on Gaikai’s board of advisors.

Thanks, Loop.

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12 Comments

  1. Hunam

    If that’s the shape of gaming to come I might just do as Obama asks and just read books instead.

    #1 3 years ago
  2. Christopher Jack

    I kind of agree with him in many parts, I’m not sure how much longer Sony, MS & Nintendo can continue to sell their software on proprietary hardware, I’d imagine that if they wanted to stay in the games industry, they would have to further develop their software into services that run across a plethora of different hardware devices. Sony has the right idea with the PlayStation Suite & Microsoft already has GfWL but I doubt that either will have much potential in the future.

    #2 3 years ago
  3. gamestx

    I still prefer my consoles and physical media. At least I can see what I purchase. Stop forcing us to buy something in cyberspace and one day if hackers took down the server, all our games in cyberspace will be gone forever. What if I just want to game in the jungle without any Internet connection. Please.. let our consoles and games stay the way it is. For those cloud fans, let them have what they want but still give us consumers power to choose what we want.

    #3 3 years ago
  4. OlderGamer

    “… Apple, Amazon, Steam – are showing the future of how content will be consumed, adding to that NetFlix and LoveFilm and the like, and that console companies run the risk of becoming a little antiquated unless they change their business model.”

    Spot on.

    I keep waiting for Apple to buy Steam, and morph into something somewhere between iTunes and Onlive.

    I bet MS is already thinking ahead, moving towards where they will want to take LIVE. They have been making several comments about developing LIVE into a “Platform” and extending its “Brand”.

    Lots of exciting stuff coming down the road for gaming I think.

    #4 3 years ago
  5. Phoenixblight

    Apple can’t buy anything if Valve isn’t selling and Valve isn’t.

    #5 3 years ago
  6. OlderGamer

    PB you don’t understand me very often. I think your too literal and serious ;)

    Of course Valve aint looking to sell.

    #6 3 years ago
  7. Phoenixblight

    Well its hard to read humor in text form especially when you are usually somewhat serious.

    #7 3 years ago
  8. OlderGamer

    Indeed, fair enough.

    #8 3 years ago
  9. typeface

    Key bit on his statement is ‘if they carry on unrestrained in their growth’. If markets and human cycles have shown us anything it’s that sustained growth over long periods isn’t something can be confirmed. At least he’s covered his base with the statement. And also it’s an extrapolation really those are pretty much almost never right :) and he knows it.

    #9 3 years ago
  10. manamana

    The future is … cloudy.

    #10 3 years ago
  11. mojo

    “It could be that the game and browser of the future is powered by PlayStation, or powered by Xbox Live or Nintendo.”

    Wow.
    thats what i want from the platformholders.
    yeah, eh, not at all.

    I guess gaming isnt for me anymore if this dystopia sets in.

    #11 3 years ago
  12. aleph31

    BS, he mentioned every possible scenario, but not really positioning for a clear winner…

    #12 3 years ago

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