OPINION: PSN breach is bad for digital but good for High Street

For all the headlines in recent years about digital destroying traditional retail, the recent PSN crisis sees us return to reality.

It has always been a gamble for consumers giving over credit card details and personal information to third parties – be they online retailers or digital platform holders. But we never thought our sacred data was in any real danger, did we?

Almost 80m people were caught out last week on PSN. Before that it was Play.com who had lost personal information. Who next? Steam? Amazon? Xbox Live?

The situation comes at the worst time for digital distribution, a market that has been growing rapidly over the past 12 months. And I am not convinced the issue will be just forgotten a few months down the line.

Consumer confidence is paramount when it comes to retailing. Take online shopping, recent data from ERA showed that – on average – online shops are the cheapest for games, and you’d expect the likes of Play, Amazon and ShopTo to be the No.1 destination for most gamers. But they’re not. Web shopping is growing, but more games were bought at supermarkets than through online stores last year.

Why is this? Well it could be many things, the need for a credit card for one, the giving over of personal information, the difficultly in returning faulty goods and – the bane of online shopping – purchases getting lost in the post.

Many consumers are just not confident in shopping online.

And for these same consumers, the only safe way to buy digital content is to put on their coats, head down the shops and pick a points card from GAME or Tesco

If digital has any aspirations to takeover from traditional retail it needs to win over the confidence of the mass market. And with stories like PSN on the front pages of newspapers, we are not there. Not yet.

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