Alternative distribution to optical disks : SSD, cards, and download*

Discussion in 'Console Technology' started by Cheezdoodles, May 26, 2008.

  1. Cheezdoodles

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    Today Samsung intruduced a solid state drive with 256gb of memory. Super prone to injury (it has no moving parts, vs a normal harddrive so it can withstand much more force. ) Its tremendously faster at writing\reading than the current methods of distrubution offering 200MBps read and 160MBps sequential write, so youd never see pop-in ever again. Its only slightly larger than an iphone, its theoretical maximum storage capacity is enourmos. (SSD tech advances at a more rapid pace than moores law at the moment).

    Only downside is price, as its expected to cost between $1000 and $2000 when it launches in september. However, in 5 years, something like this could cost less than $20 bucks for much more memory.)

    This or digital distrubution?
     
  2. DeadlyNinja

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    I remember people were laughing at the DS when it was revealed it'll use "cartridges" versus the PSP's mini-dvd technology.

    Can SSD provide an experience similar to carts? By that I mean little to no loading. I'd also like it if I didn't have to buy memory cards and just keep game saves within the game itself. What about storing bonus downloaded content into the cart itself? Actually, those 2 questions are kind of stupid since even I know it's possible, but just a matter of whether the game makers are willing to do it. I'm sure saves will be kept within the game itself.

    I don't like the idea of digital distribution because you need a fast internet connection. Sure, I have DSL, but downloading 12 gigs at my 768 kbs isn't something I enjoy very much.

    Will 5 years really be enough to get the price down so low? Even if it costs 20 bucks to manufacture, it's still not as cheap as pressing a DVD for like 5 cents or something. I have a feeling Nintendo will most likely be the first one to embrace SSD. At the very least for handhelds.
     
  3. phat

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    Err... No.

    SSDs are much more expensive than ROM cartridges, and don't even provide directly addressable memory. (Directly addressable flash memory is less dense and even more expensive.)

    Nothing is close to beating pressed optical media for low cost.
     
  4. Mintmaster

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    I gotta agree with phat here. SSD for distribution doesn't make much sense, IMO.

    Digital distribution, OTOH, does save the publisher a boatload of money. At some point, you may see them offer titles online for a discount, assuming Walmart etc. doesn't strong-arm them away from it. If I get to save $5-10 (after possible future per GB charges from the ISP), I won't mind downloading over a slow DSL connection.

    Even a $3 premium over optical for a 50GB game is a huge cost. If we get an order of magnitude more speed, though, then it maybe you can make an argument for it, but would you really pay an extra $5 for all games (including bargain titles) to reduce the loading times and/or pop-in that you see in a few of them?
     
  5. acaeus

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    I hope the prices go down for the consumer as well (with digital distribution). I mean if today I buy a game for $60 only because I know I can sell it on ebay once I'm done with it. I read here and there that companies love DD precisely because it eliminates the reselling of games. But do they realize that the consumer does, or at least many do, take that into account when spending his money?
     
  6. FirewalkR

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    I would, depending on how much it reduced those 2 factors.

    I'd like to see games distributed in SSD's with a writable area for patches and possibly save-games. That'd be ace.:smile:
     
  7. Fox5

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    DS uses carts? They look like a form of custom flash memory to me, not that I've ever looked inside one (maybe I should, the metroid demo cart is relatively useless).
     
  8. DeadlyNinja

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    You know what I mean. The fact that it wasn't an optical storage media caused people to think N64 Vs PS1 again. That was during the earuly days before either PSP or DS were released.
     
  9. Rangers

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    Wow, fascinating. This had never occured to me, at all.

    ESPECIALLY as read speed versus available RAM is becoming a big problem, essentially mandating annoying installs now on most PS3 games (360 gets around this, but with a super noisy drive). Unless increasing Blu Ray speeds can keep up and without the noise (a factor I'm not clear on). RAM is going up and up but read speeds still bottleneck at 7200 RPM HDD.

    I think some form of SSD will be in next gen consoles. Howabout something like an 8GB (probably on the small side actually) as a permanent cache? Would be cheap also, which of course is really whats paramount. I think this "cache drive" is a no brainer for performance, will be dirt cheap, and will be a lock in next gen consoles.

    And I think what the OP is getting at..I just bought a 4GB flash key for $15. 16GB cost maybe $60? Around there will be enough memory for next gen games, yet the price will only fall drastically. You dont need 256GB, something more like 50GB will be plenty for next gen (if that much, hell this gen two of the consoles remained on the same dvd storage as last gen aka no increase).
     
    #9 Rangers, May 28, 2008
    Last edited by a moderator: May 28, 2008
  10. tongue_of_colicab

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    Maybe. You dont need ssd's though I think. Just some form of flash that can only be written once, that could save money as there is no need for memory that can be written to 1000's of times. At best you need a small portion for saves.

    In the future it might be possible I think. DS cartridges dont seem to influence the price of games though even the largest carts still are like 40 times smaller than a dvd. But that will probably change in the future (just as I happen to see a old paper ad today selling a 10mb hdd for 400 dollars while today you can buy 1tb for like 130). The only thing that might happen is that digital distrubution catches up before than. Hdd's already are very cheap today so I wont be very suprised to see like very large disks in the next generation. I suppose 2+tb disks shouldnt cost 100 euro's by then. Or maybe they will just use BR for distrubution and than have a forced full copy to disk for better speed. That would also be very usefull for countries were you cant get fast broadband connections or still have download limits.
     
  11. Mintmaster

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    Yeah, but that's due to competition. I was posing more of a hypothetical question where profits aren't affected for the console makers and game devs. DS cartridges probably cost only $2 or so, so that's easier to absorb. $5 for 50GB of SSD in 5 years is already assuming a pretty aggressive cost reduction rate, and next gen may start before that, too.

    I guess one advantage is simpler hardware, as lack of an optical drive makes the console cheaper, more reliable, and quieter. It'll be negated after the purchase of a few disks, but entry price has always been extremely important.

    I was probably a bit hasty in dismissing the idea of SSD distribution so quickly, but it still seems unlikely to me.
     
  12. RadioFr33Europe

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    They could utilize SSD or some other mass storage memory card to enable customers to take an SSD to the store, purchase a game, download it to disk, and then upload it to the HD of their PS4 / XBOX1080 / Yuu.

    Of course, there are security implications to consider. But, with a setup like this, you could potentially wipe out the used games marked that the industry seems to hate (as well as the rental industry).
     
  13. Fox5

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    What if you want to buy more than one game at a time? It'd also eliminate those 6 games with 1 system bundles.
    Plus, consumers like to "own" physical copies of games. With limited harddrive space, it'd be easy to lose a game forever unless some kind of record was kept. They'd really have to tightly integrate this with online distribution with instore kiosks for the rest.
    Even still, music hasn't been able to get away from a physical medium, I doubt games will be able to.

    Besides, Sony will likely want to push Blu-ray or whatever's next. Blu-ray can do 50GB disks, and maybe they'll have triple layer (for games) by the time next gen comes around. I could potentially see Microsoft or Nintendo heading in that direction (heck, for Nintendo it becomes almost brain dead simple if they just make the Wii mark 2), but there's also the issue that DVD drives, and even blu ray drives, are going to be dirt cheap to produce by then.
     
  14. ERP

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    Several people tried similar things to this back in the SNES/Genesis days, without any real acceptance. Now you have to question why you would leave the retailer in the loop at all in a system like this, how is it better than direct download?

    Carts didn't go away because of capacity problems, they went away because of cost of goods. Anything replacing optical discs at this point has to be similarly priced.
     
  15. Rangers

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    I would LOVE to see SSD carts in next gen consoles, but I have a funny feeling that Sony/MS are too greedy and/or shortsighted to do this, at least in this coming up gen. Even if the cost of the cart ends up being say $4, I'm sure that's way too much for them.

    I'd love to see it if nothing else, to get the better reliability and cheaper console benefits.

    I do wonder if there would be production issues cranking out zillions of these things. Similar to the old cart shortages of Nintendo games such as Zelda SNES.

    I DEFINITLY expect the 8-16GB SSD cache drive in next gen consoles though, and combined with a Blu Ray, hopefully a more than 2X Blu Ray (I assume these are in the works?) should be a very nice benefit of the SSD technology's declining costs.
     
  16. RadioFr33Europe

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    I think it would be a long shot, but it's at least possible.

    Why couldn't you get a SSD big enough for a bunch of games all at once. A 200GB SSD could fit around 4 double-layer Blu-ray games.

    Personally, I like owning physical copies too. I worry about what happens if you lose the game as well.
     
  17. RadioFr33Europe

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    In the future, the retailers would be out of the loop as broadband speeds increase. But, currently, the majority of Americans don't have the broadband speeds to download a 50GB game. They could work an odd job to get the gas money, drive to the store, d/l to SSD, drive home, make a sandwich, and eat, way before the game would be finished d/l over the broadband connection.

    In the model I was thinking of, retailers would have a server kiosk with enough storage to hold lots of games and the only speed issue would be disk transfer rates.

    If there's a one time upfront cost of an SSD cart that you would recoup later from lower priced games (which may or may not be possible due to the cheapness of disc media and expense of transportation), I see that it's possible people would adopt. Lots of people don't mind buying expensive memory sticks for their PSPs for movies and homebrew.
     
  18. Mintmaster

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    Do you have any idea how much $4 per title is? A console maker can't cut into their commission or else they'd have to sell the hardware at a higher price point, so that could be a good 10-20% of a games studio's revenue gone, depending on the ASP of the title.

    That's the difference between moderate financial success and bankruptcy. Moreover, it would make securing an exclusive extremely hard/costly.
     
  19. Mintmaster

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    We're not talking about currently, we're talking about 5 years from now at least. Also, if you save $10 by cutting out the retailer, would you have a problem in waiting a day for a game to download? You may even be able to non-intrusively take a couple of days to download as long as the first level came overnight. At launch you could even start downloading many days in advance, like Valve did with HL2, so that you get the game even faster than those buying a physical copy.
     
  20. Rangers

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    Oh come now..I'm sure Blu Ray's aren't that cheap from all we hear compared to DVD (I'm thinking, $2?)..but it's not crippling them versus DVD..
     
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