John Hight, external production director for SCEA, is the overseer of PS3 games’ digital distribution program, E-Distribution Initiative. He claims that this new distribution project will benefit Sony and open opportunities for game developers. Hight explains that online distribution erases inventory risks while being cost-effective. He asserts that this is Sony’s contribution in the anti-piracy drive because online distribution will curtail the sales of used games and software transfer.
As added benefit for the developers and aspiring developers of PS3 games, the difficulties of breaking in the game publishing industry is minimized by the online platform. Through the online platform new games by big and new developers can be tested with low risks in a medium that encourages quick feedback. There is no need to publish the game and get reviewers to test it. The prototype of the game is uploaded in the online platform where actual PS3 gamers can play it and post their own reviews. Hight asserts, in another dig at Microsoft, that their company is committed to game development in the circle of its own studios. He reminds that Microsoft relies on third party game developers to supply their Live Arcade with games. He even added that Sony opens platform doors for independent publishers who funded their own games. But not just any game can make it to Sony’s online platform. Hight stresses that despite the openness of their platform, Sony is only looking for new and fresh ideas to benefit from the influence of the PS3.
Sony Computer Entertainment’s Ken Kutaragi, amplifies the cost-efficiency of their online platform. He states that they expect high returns from the sales of downloadable PS3 games. He also denies reports about added fees and charges for playing and networking through the E-Distribution Initiative. He explains that all basic services from Sony’s online platform will be free except for the downloads.
SCEA also confirms reports that some of their PS3 games, downloaded or not, are not compatible with Xbox 360. The company gives hardware demands and game designs as reasons behind the incompatibility. This confirmation coincided with the announcement of new game titles developed exclusively for Sony.
From these, Sony makes it clear that it is taking steps to compete with Microsoft even in the online arena. Though the initial information released by SCEA is vague, the online platform clearly has two primary functions: PS3 games download and player interaction. Its basic functions are much like that of Microsoft’s online platform. The PS3 games console is facing a tough challenge from Xbox 360 because of its delayed launch. Whether the E-Distribution Initiative will face the same challenge remains to be seen when it collides with the more established Xbox Live Arcade.