Jamie MacDonald, VP of SCE Worldwide Studios Europe, has told GamesIndustry.biz that he believes digital distribution will overtake discs within the next five years.
Speaking after his keynote at GDC London this morning, MacDonald said the industry is currently experiencing a "paradigm shift" as the cost of games production increases and there is a move toward a "network-centric world". This, he argued, will have significant implications for the way developers make games, the revenue streams they are able to exploit and the way products are delivered.
"In five years' time, my belief is that the majority of content won't be delivered on disc. That has many implications for developers and the way we organise our industry," MacDonald said.
"It also brings with it great opportunities because it means you can touch your consumer in many different ways and at different times - it's not just a one-off relationship where a consumer buys a disc from the store.
"In terms of object sales, episodic content, in-game advertising and merchandising, there are many, many opportunities to have a relationship with the consumer - which is a great challenge to us as developers because that's not what we're used to."
This is not the first time a Sony executive has predicted the end of the road for disc formats. Back in August, Worldwide Studios president Phil Harrison said he would be "amazed" if the PlayStation 4 featured a disc drive - causing some observers to question the validity of launching the new Blu-ray format with PlayStation 3.
But according to MacDonald, "The thing about Blu-ray discs - and this is the crucial thing - is that not any time soon will you be able to download the amount of content you need for a big triple-A title down a typical 2, 4 meg broadband connection. That's not going to happen now or in the next year.
"So Blu-ray is absolutely needed for the high definition content in the games that we'll be producing. The network-enabled world, for the initial period, is much more about updated content, object sales, but also titles which are not these blockbuster titles."
The full interview with Jamie MacDonald will be published on GamesIndustry.biz later this week.