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.