In a frank interview with MCV, System 3 CEO Mark Cale has stated that the challenging nature of modern High Street retail is the driving force behind his new digital distribution experiment with upcoming racer Ferrari: The Race Experience.
Last month MCV revealed that the game would be digital only on PS3, with a boxed release scheduled on Nintendo Wii.
And Cale believes that the outcome of his gamble will provide a valuable insight for the entire industry.
“We needed to try our new digital solution with a big title to see if it would work or not, so why not Ferrari?” he told MCV.
“Downloads are not going to sell as many units as a retail copy at present, but I think that’s changing and we need to lead the way. We need to start the revolution because we’ve been foreseeing this shift for the last eighteen months – we’ve been planning this for that long.
“If this strategy doesn’t work with a title like Ferrari, at least we’ll have given it a go. But I think the world will be surprised as to how promising this opportunity really is.”
And unlike some other companies who have charged the same, or in some instances even more, for digital versions of their boxed games, System 3 will be passing on the savings of non-physical publishing to consumers.
“With digital, suddenly you don’t need to sell at £54.99,” he added. “If you can pass on your savings – cutting out manufacturing costs, for example – you can go into digital at £29.99 or £24.99 and the consumer doesn’t feel ripped off.
“What you’re losing through the lack of instant visibility and exposure at retail, you’re gaining by being able to protect your IP. And it gives you access to the user: 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The product’s lifespan is then dependent on people continuing to support it.”
Cale does add that while he feels it’s important to begin exploring these digital boundaries, retail of course remains hugely important to video games publishers.
“There is still a retail market,” he asserts. “When you look at Ferrari Challenge Deluxe on Wii, we’ve sold through 500,000 copies across Europe in the last year. Retail is still important.
“We’re also trying to find solutions in which we can work with a digital product within the retail area. We need to find a way to let retail be part of our digital strategy, to boost both sectors.”
To read the full interview with Mark Cale, click here.