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Packaged media "not going away any time soon" - House

But SCEE president denies retail reaction to PSPgo harmed sales of digital handheld

While the release of the PSPgo demonstrated Sony's intention to cater for the consumer that prefers digital downloads over packaged media, the latter is "not going away any time soon".

That's according to Sony Computer Entertainment Europe president Andrew House, who told GamesIndustry.biz that the company has no intention of seeing the latest edition in its handheld line-up cannibalise sales of its UMD-equipped PSP-3000.

"I think we were always fairly clear, as far back as the original announcements, that this wasn't a replacement for the current PSP-3000 offering, and that it sits alongside that and packaged media," he explained in an industry-exclusive interview. "It's additive to the business.

"The early sales numbers that we've seen bear that out - I don't think there's been a huge amount of cannibalisation, and I think those sales have come in and lifted overall PSP sales.

"It's clearly demonstrated that there is a consumer out there, and it's validated that proposition in moving more towards a digital download as a preferred means of getting content."

He added that it was becoming clear that the industry would need to shift in order to be able to respond to that new demand, and that lessons would need to be learned on how best to market digital content.

But he was clear in his view that, particularly for the PlayStation 3, traditional retail methods still had a key part to play for the foreseeable future.

"Make no mistake, when you're looking at PS3 games and you're seeing the shift in the sheer size of the data that's becoming available, the packaged media business is not going away any time soon," he said.

"I think there's been an overstatement there potentially, and then a backlash to that - but I don't think we were really responsible for that overstatement, so we're not really part and parcel of the backlash, if that makes sense.

"It has its place for those consumers - it comes back to offering people options, and it was the right option for us to offer."

He also denied that there had been no real impact on PSPgo sales as a result of a selection of retailers refusing to stock the handheld.

"There's been sufficient distribution for the product at retail for consumers to be able to find it where they need to - I don't think that's particularly been part of the challenge," he said.

"In some senses, if the question comes down to consumer pricing, it's the same argument we've often had around PS3: If we are able to deliver something at a cheaper price, would we see a much swifter uptake in the marketplace? Quite probably.

"But we're in a responsible business mould and we have to put products out there at the price that we think they're worth."

The second part of the interview with Andrew House will be published tomorrow. The first part is available now.

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