No, Sony has not announced the PlayStation 4 yet, but apparently it is looking at the future; and while it does see digital downloads to be a big part of it, it is unlikely that when Sony does finally release the PlayStation 4 that it will be a download only console.
In a discussion with web site MCV, Sony’s Kaz Hitai says, “We do business in parts of the world where network infrastructure isn’t as robust as one would hope….To think that everything will be download in two or three years or even ten years from now is a little bit extreme.”
We think that Sony has learned a valuable lesson from the release of the PSPgo, which while it was pitched as an offering for early adopters, it only offered download support and turned its back on the traditional PSP disk drive that previous models used. While there was talk of allowing users to either upgrade or convert their owned PSP disk-based games to the digital format, it never happened, with Sony saying that they could not find a way to make it work logistically. Insiders suggest it had more to do with money than anything else.
While some have predicted that the next generation consoles will not have a disc drive and will be all digital download, it seems that a lot of back pedaling now indicates that an all digital transition isn’t yet possible and is somewhat unlikely for the next console offerings. In addition, with many games now pushing the limits of Blu-ray storage, it is possible that the physical disc has likely not yet outlived its usefulness.
Despite the fact that many software publishers and developers would like to see a transition to digital downloads to help combat the sale of used video games, it seems likely that this will not happen in the next offerings. As for when we can expect a PlayStation 4 or an Xbox 720 is anyone’s guess at this point; but some do think Microsoft is closer to the release of a new console than Sony is. The bet, however, that Kinect from Microsoft or Sony’s Move offering is going to extend the life of the console is not a bet we are willing to take.