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

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

  1. Silent_Buddha

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    Previously I was bullish on NAND prices getting down to a point where it could be a reasonable alternative for distribution. However, since then a shortage of NAND relative to demand (IE - demand has skyrocketed but supply hasn't) means that prices have gone up since then (common to find 1 TB SSDs for under 200 USD back then).

    I'm still confident that an optical less distribution system can still work, but it requires more infrastructure than just switching retail distribution media (IE - carts versus disks). It'd require a system where the physical media only serves as an alternate method of digital distribution and that the physical media be re-usable.

    It certainly isn't practical now and never was going to be for this generation (although I had hoped mid-gen one of either Sony or MS would experiment with the idea), but by the time the next consoles roll out it may be.

    As digital distribution is close to 50% (far more for some publishers less for others) by the time the next generation rolls around, it's entirely possible that DD might make up 75% or more of all game purchases (not DLC or other ancillary game revenue) on console. Reusable distribution media could then be practical for servicing the minority of consumers that can't go full digital. IE - reusable media to transport the digital game from another location (friend's house, retailer, etc.) to their console.

    Single use cartridges are still going to be cost prohibitive for large capacities as long as demand for NAND continues to outpace the production of NAND.

    Regards,
    SB
     
  2. Syferz

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    It will be interesting to see what 64GB games on the switch cost in 2020. If they are $70, I think it becomes a reasonable alternative for Sony and Microsoft.
     
  3. bunge

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    I want cartridges that can have chips added to enhance the games!
     
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  4. BRiT

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    No, it won't. Games are well beyond the 64GB size.
     
  5. Shifty Geezer

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    If people are willing to spend more than $60 for a game, something publishers have found them very resistant to (see discussion on increasing cost of game development etc.), then by printing the game on a disc and selling for $70, you make ~$10 more profit per disk. On a million physical sales at $60, 3rd parties take ~ $30 each, say, so $30 million. At $70, that's $40 million. That 10 dollars difference translates to a sizeable increase in percentage profits. If distributing on disks isn't going to reduce sales versus distributing on carts, what's the economic reason to use carts?

    Nintendo uses carts out of necessity for the portable format and not because it's the best, most economic distribution method. If they could use a 10 cents medium instead, they would!
     
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  6. eastmen

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    welp you want the best most economic method that's DD , carts would be a more expensive addition for those who do not wish to upgrade. With a company like MS they are pushing more and more towards DD esp with the new games pass along with ea and ea acess . Price the game at $60 online and $70 for the physical copy
     
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  7. Shifty Geezer

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    Yes, but DD isn't embraced by everyone. If it was, there wouldn't be optical drives in the consoles. As long as people are buying physical copy, you need a physical format, and optical is the cheap-ass solution to that.
     
  8. Syferz

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    Game card media can exceed discs, so the comment about 64GB being to small for games, is just silly, also there is always the option of downloading some game data such as 4K assets to the drives, would save a lot of space over installing the entire game and could be played right away with assets switched out on the fly as they come in.
    Sony will keep using discs unless they build a device similar to switch. Microsoft is looking at removing the disc drive, moving towards a digital distribution is their goal, a game card system with a premium for physical media could force their users to adopt digital at a higher rate, Game Pass is currently their focus and offers potentially huge value for gamers, if they cover physical media gamers with cards, it could work, especially because I believe Microsoft will wait to launch their next Xbox. Sony's coming in between 10tflops and 12tflops, the Xbox 1x isn't horribly behind that, especially if the focus is on 4K.
     
  9. eastmen

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    with the rate DD adoption is growing a 2021 console might not have an optical drive and might just use a modified SD card solution for those who still want physical. It would add very little to the cost so you could shed a $30+ component which also makes up 1/3rd to 1/2 of the box. Of course if physical purchasers are small enough they might not actually care
     
  10. Pixel

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    Currently there is also a pressure to maintain a disc drive for relationship with physical retailers & online etailers such as amazon who make their margins off of software sales, not so much off of the console hardware itself. Without that lossleader business model, their retail partners may demand the typical 20-30% margins off the products they sell as is the case with lots of computer components and electronics. Though I suppose MS/Sony could afford this price with the increased revenue they would generate on 3rd party software sales as well as 1st party software. Still without a disc based SKU or addon they will miss some of the market.

    Game file sizes will increase next generation. In 2021 a 100GB BD disc may only cost 50 cents. How far will EEPROM and flash prices drop so that the $/GB of these are equivalent to BD. Currently publishers are hesitant to manufacture too many Switch cartidges and are hesitant to use the 16 and 32GB cards, as they have to eat the costs unsold cartridges.
     
    #2610 Pixel, Feb 11, 2018
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2018
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  11. BRiT

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    Real concerns and issues being waved off by you without any real details or thought about impacts is whats truly silly. Yes, you can maybe have larger carts but at what obscene price compared to optical? Face it, carts can not efficiently replace optical for console games from 2013. Some already require 128gb. Now imagine what games from 2019 or 2020 will require! Are you going to say 160 gb or 192 gb or 256 gb carts are the answer to replace cheap as dirt optical media?

    And your statement of going digital download for parts of the game, they might as well go digital for the entire game, why half-ass the transition to digital?
     
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  12. phoenix_chipset

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    Isn't it often the case of developers just using all the space on a blu ray because they can? Same reason we have disgusting 50gb patches for games like Forza 7 - because they can. I mean sure, I can tell a lot of games truly need all that space, but looking at what Nintendo can fit onto less than 3gb i'm going to say there's a lot of bloat to these game sizes. And yes I know their games typically don't have full voice acting and lots of cutscenes, but still.

    What would absolutely make sense is to make all online multiplayer portions of games downloadable, because you're not going to be playing those parts when you're offline anyway. But that's the only thing that makes sense to lock out of the cart.

    And I would seriously mandate a patch size limit like the Xbox 360 originally had. Probably won't happen, but I could only think it'd be a good thing.
     
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  13. BRiT

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    No. Putting in place artificial limits is bad. We're in a world without limits. Let it be up to the developer and publisher to figure out what they need and want to do and the consumers to figure out how they want to respond.
     
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  14. Syferz

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    BRiT, I just had a technical question. I was under the impression that PS4 and the original Xbox One, could only use single and dual layer Bluray discs. I know Xbox One S moved on to UHD Bluray drives, and that can handle triple and quadruple layer discs. You mentioned earlier on this page that there are already current gen games that are bigger than 64GB, so can PS4 use triple layer bluray discs? I know that bluray goes up to 128GB, I was just unaware of how capable older drives in the base consoles' ability to read these higher capacity drives.
     
  15. Sigfried1977

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    Some games just got bigger due to patches and add-ons. Kingdom Come Deliverance for example is 23 GB when you install it. Version 1.02 bumps the storage footprint up to a whopping 53 GB. The Blu-Rays for the PS4 don't exceed the storage limit of a dual layer BD.
     
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  16. MrFox

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    If next gen have a lot more than 8GB of memory, 100GB+ should be the norm. Better textures better assets... And if next gen is very late, it will have even more memory.

    Not sure where on that line a flash cart's acceptable cost intersects with the generation's game size.
     
  17. MrFox

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    Right now the demand for 300GB (and in a few years 500GB and 1TB) discs is the archival market. It's anyone's guess if gaming will need this capacity next gen. The R&D investment might not be worth it. They have nothing to piggyback on. No 8K blurays.

    What's interesting is that current drives from panasonic and sony are reading 300GB blurays at 2gbps with plans for faster speeds, so a ROM version would still get great install speed. Add the PS4 instant play technique (well, for most single player games), and you still play the game within 60 secs.

    I wouldn't be surprised if next gen caps the game size at 100GB, I'm curious what devs want considering PC games with 4K assets aren't punching significantly higher... and consoles have the entire disc compressed with LZ and realtime decompression of the installed data.
     
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  18. bunge

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    Would VR increase the need?
     
  19. MrFox

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    I don't know I would guess the opposite? VR needs such a high frame rate, and stereo, and low latency, that rendering suffers almost one generation from lack of processing power and the headset low perceived resolution (wasted rendering power because of the wide fov). Maybe a 4K-rgb headset would require what we currently consider 1080p assets.
     
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  20. Silent_Buddha

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    Not so much with Amazon. They still sell the physical media just because it's still a large part of console purchases. However, they are more than happy to sell the digital version (codes) of games (Steam/Origin/Microsoft Store/etc.) as well as gift cards (the best selling video game product on Amazon is a PS4 gift card).

    Regards,
    SB
     
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