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Sony UK: Very Important To 'Keep The Physical Retail Market Well Supported'

Matt Gardner
Digital Distribution, Playstation Vita, Pricing, PS Vita, Retail, Sales, Sony

Sony UK: Very Important To 'Keep The Physical Retail Market Well Supported'

Slightly disgruntled about the digital prices for the Vita's high-end games? So were we, although we also made the point that the fragile relationship between platform holder and distributors meant undercutting the physical retail market was never particularly likely, something that Sony have reiterated themselves.

According to Fergal Gara, Sony UK's MD, the perception of high digital pricing is largely due to an incredibly competitive UK retail market.

"The primary factor in play here is the competition in the retail marketplace in the UK, which is discounting the product maybe more so than some other markets," said Gara when asked by Eurogamer what was behind the seemingly high digital prices at the Vita launch last night. "What we've aimed to do with our pricing is bring the digital product to market at or a bit below where the physical product is.

"Competition may mean that comes out differently because we can't control retail pricing in the UK. It is also very important to us to keep the physical retail market well supported. So therefore we don't want to drastically undercut that with digital prices. We need to retain some sort of harmony, but give consumers the choice.

So right now they'll see something round about equal, maybe a little bit cheaper on digital, depending on which country you're in. But they'll also see a vast choice of additional digital games in there. Consumers will choose what's the best way for them to consume."

Sony themselves only set the prices for the games that they publish (eg. Uncharted: Golden Abyss), meaning that the likes of FIFA Football and Touch My Katamari are set by respective publishers, in this case EA and Namco Bandai. "We only set the prices for SCE published titles," a Sony spokesperson told us yesterday. "We have no influence on 3rd party releases."

Sony are keen for traditional physical retailers to maintain their efforts in a competitive market, but are also hoping for the Vita to provide more choice and consumer flexibility with its digital offerings.

"We just want a vibrant marketplace where consumers buy lots of PS Vitas and consumer vast amounts of software on the back of it. How they get to that product is an interesting question. We'd like to see stores like this [GAME] still able to compete and still able to sell loads of product.

"But equally, if digital is the way consumers want to go, we've got to be relevant to those consumption needs, don't we? It's certainly happened harder and faster in music, with some good reasons - the file sizes are tiny by comparison. But we see digital having a bigger role in PS Vita than it does certainly for the core games themselves on PS3, where there's a digital market, but it's predominantly additional DLC based."

The sizes of memory cards have been a sticking point too, with 16GB the largest available in the UK currently. Although we were told yesterday that "there are no plans to introduce a 32GB memory card [to the UK] at this time", Gara suggested otherwise.

"We've already learnt from the early days in Japan that we probably haven't got big enough memory cards introduced for the UK market. We've already gone to secure bigger size cards to bring them into the UK market.

"It's early days. Before it comes to market you just have to guess what people are going to want. We thought they'd want a lot of 4GB cards just as the minimum, and then they buy packaged media. But actually, the way it's going is, many of the early adopters are clearly going to download a bit more, or just want to buy the big chip in case.

"It's going to evolve. But we can certainly see they want bigger cards."

We really, really do.

Add a comment 1 comment
stevenjameshyde  Feb. 22, 2012 at 15:54

"What we've aimed to do with our pricing is bring the digital product to market at or a bit below where the physical product is."

Then you, sir, have failed


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