Data size demands on blockbuster triple-A games means digital distribution won’t dominate the games space any time soon, a veteran games developer has said.
Mark Cerny, the widely respected Crash Bandicoot designer and now freelance developer, said optical media will be “the dominant media format for consoles going forward”.
That claim, made at a Sony roundtable debate at Gamescom, was challenged by Cerny’s fellow panellists.
Gareth Edmondson, studio manager at Ubisoft Reflections, said the industry is already delivering triple-A games digitally.
“Driver [suffixed ‘San Francisco’] is released on the PlayStation Network in a few weeks, for example. That’s the full Blu-Ray/DVD experience you can download,” he said.
“I think physical media will remain very important, but I think things are going to shift. How long that will take I’m not too sure. I don’t agree that the size of data will be the limiting factor, though, you can store this data on your hard drives.”
In response, Cerny calculated that to download a copy of Metal Gear Solid 4 – which is thought to weigh about 50 gigabytes – would take 36 consecutive hours.
“I’m not saying people won’t do that, I just think it won’t be the dominant distribution system,” he said.
“If you follow the rate that internet speeds are increasing, you’ll still have to wait ten years before that kind of download takes about an hour.
“Just to speak from a technical perspective, these future games will require an enormous amount of data. Current PS3 top games require 25 or 50 gigabytes. That’s about the only thing today that exists that can’t be constrained. At least in the near future it will be difficult to avoid optical data.”
The future of physical media is a routine matter of debate, though few industry executives have said the media is secure. Square Enix boss Yoichi Wada is one of many publishing CEOs to have claimed that digital will eventually take over.