What The Amazon PlayStation Store Could Mean

amazonpsn

In case you haven’t heard, one of Sony’s more interesting PlayStation announcements this week is the establishment of the “Amazon PlayStation Network,” which is essentially just you buying digital PlayStation content through Amazon. This could be the start of a game changer for digital distribution of console games.

At face value, the more immediate implication of this is that you’ll be able to buy all PSN content with the convenience of Amazon, which would include Amazon credit.  Most important though is the potential to get Amazon-style sales, and maybe in the future, sales from other online storefronts for PSN content.

Over the past few years there have been a ton of differences between digital distribution on consoles and the way it’s done on PC. The most prevalent remains the price of software which occurs as a byproduct of the openness of the PC market. Since you have many retailers selling digital PC content as opposed to a console manufacturer controlling the only digital store on a console, price competition ensues in the form of sales. Amazon has been particularly aggressive on this front, so much so that I’ve heard people say it beats Steam during the holidays in terms of sales these days. Now imagine if Amazon had the freedom to market its newly acquired PSN codes as aggressively. PSN games could be sold at sale prices never before seen.

It only gets better if Sony allows more and more online storefronts to sell PSN codes. They need to let there be a GameStop PlayStation Store, a Greenman Gaming PlayStation Store, a Humble PlayStation Store, a Wal-Mart PlayStation Store, a BestBuy.com PlayStation Store, and so-on. The more stores do this, the more price competition ensues. Technically, Steam is already doing the same thing by letting other stores sell Steam keys for games.

A lot of the people buying PC games on Amazon or GMG confess they wouldn’t even be doing it if they couldn’t buy Steam keys. Valve doesn’t even get any money when you buy those keys from Amazon (I imagine Valve sells the keys “wholesale” to other retailers and I imagine Sony is doing the same with Amazon), but recognizes more people will be exposed to Steam if they can encounter and buy Steam content at more places. I imagine Sony is starting to realize this.

In an earlier post I said it’s in Sony’s and Microsoft’s best interest to encourage console gamers to buy digital. One way to do this is to let them buy digital at more places than just PSN and Xbox Live, which would likely expose more people to those services. PSN and XBL would no longer be a thing you have to actively look for on a console in order to be aware of.  I think Nintendo stated its intention to do this some time ago with eShop codes, though I haven’t seen evidence of it yet.

To go even further, Sony should allow indies to directly sell PSN keys for their games. It’s becoming increasingly common for an indie developer to include a Steam key when you buy their game from their official website (you can even pay for that through Amazon). Now imagine if they threw a PSN key into the mix.

Lastly, I think it would be neat if Sony allowed the Amazon PlayStation Store to be accessed directly on the PS4 (and Vita) through a native app. The same goes for other retailers that get PSN keys. You’d think Sony would be worried about that competition cutting in on PSN Sales, but Sony already makes that kind of competition available for buying movies and TV shows. On your PS3 you already have the choice of buying video content either through PSN or through Amazon Instant, VUDU, CinemaNow, and other services. The aforementioned proposal would simply be the same thing but for games.

By the way, everything I’m talking about here should apply to Microsoft and Nintendo too. All console manufacturers should be doing this in order to make their closed boxes feel as open as possible.

Now I don’t think this will lead to Steam-style sales immediately or even long-term, but it could certainly increase the variance in price for digital console games. As of the launch of next-gen PSN and XBL, I think Sony and Microsoft have actually gotten their digital services about as close to Steam as a closed hardware platform can get. They just need to realize that a big reason people might buy digital is more sensible pricing. That’s something sorely needed before console digital distribution is ever taken seriously.

BULLETS:

  • To people with their PS4s pre-ordered, you can download that 1.5 update right now on a USB stick and not worry about having to do it on launch day: http://t.co/5Uf2cuQafK
  • What’s really interesting about the PS4 is that as soon as you get one, you’ll pretty much be able to immediately start playing some free games, whether they be from the PlayStation + trial or free-to-play games. For a while you could conceivably buy a PS4 and enjoy it without actually buying games.
  • Rock Paper Shotgun reviews the PC. http://t.co/Cgn0vYCpu2
  • Smooth McGroove finally gets down to one of the most iconic 16-bit themes. flip.it/MW08C
  • The Wolf Among Us rap. http://t.co/iCTFQBwuYl
  • Apparently, Akira is available on iTunes in HD now for $3, but it’s categorized under TV shows. https://itunes.apple.com/us/tv-season/akira/id727850145
  • Man, Mirror’s Edge came out five years ago.
  • We finally know the origins of the Ice Cap Zone theme. http://t.co/2ZxfkHfOfY
  • AMD’s version of The Witcher 3’s next-gen wolf? http://t.co/ZRXTZeBSMZ
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