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Sony: Digital releases as standard could be five years away

Company still experimenting with business models and does not have immediate plans for simultaneous UMD and digital releases

Sony's John Koller has told GamesIndustry.biz that the company is still undecided on publishing PSP titles simultaneously on UMD and via digital distribution.

Although Sony wants to make as much content available to PSP consumers digitally, Koller said that day and date releases on both formats is a mid-term goal, and might not be standard for five years.

"In North America we haven't made a firm decision if and when we're going to launch day and date, retail and digital. In Japan we do, and Europe's going that way. In America we're looking at the opportunity," said Koller ahead of his session at the Game Developers Conference today.

"Digital kind of fits our view of the world in the mid-term, not in the short term – three to five years out. We want to start providing the content to the consumers and start to get them to a place where they can accept digital distribution," he added.

While Sony is listening to consumer demand for digital distribution, Koller said that retail is still essential to the business, and will remain key for game sales.

"Music hung on to the disc format for as long as possible, when consumers were actively saying 'we're very interested in digital'," offered Koller. "We're very happy to provide that content and at least allow the consumer to make that choice. We want to provide the option to wake up in the morning and get it on-line or walk to the store and buy it."

Sony has tried various digital delivery and pricing structures via the PlayStation Network already, and Koller said there are still business models the company intends to test in the market.

"We're looking at various models to see when to launch those. That's not to say retail is going away, because it's not. It's a balance, it's a very fine balance because retail does so much for us that digital maybe can't. So different models are floating around and we haven't made a firm decision on that."

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