In response to "Gateway to Gaming" from The Escapist forum: Paradox is really a company that excels at the way it treats the consumer, as all us Paradox fans know. It's not a surprise to me, therefore, that their digital download platform has the same approach. When you purchase a game from Paradox, there's a feeling that you truly own it, and what's more, they encourage you to alter the game to your own desire.
I notice that it's the more... indie isn't the right word, but almost boutique developers, Valve, Paradox, and StarDock, companies that pride themselves on their relation to their consumer, that seem to be creating the most successful DD platforms: Steam, GamersGate, and Impulse, respectively. And while none of these platforms are quite as perfect as we want them to be, I think it's rather a good thing that these distribution schemes are handled by companies that believe in treating the consumer as the party who should be rewarded in a business transaction.
I think that many people are a little disadvantaged by games being more available online, but that can be the result of their situation. Being unable to afford, or not having available, a sufficiently high download cap to make this kind of purchase worthwhile hamstrings many consumers. I, for example have a 7GB monthly limit in a family of four which means that there is no circumstance in which it's practical.
Obviously as the industry moves forward there'll be a shift in both the home download capacity (I hope) and the way we work with games. It's slowly getting there.
In response to "The Downside of Direct Downloads" from The Escapist forum: I have to say that if/when the day finally does come when digital downloads completely take over, it will be a sad one for me. To me, gaming is more than just getting a game and playing it. I mean, what of the social side of buying a game in the first place?
One of my fondest memories of 2007 was getting up at 7am on August 24th, picking two of my friends up at 7:30 and heading to the local Asda store ready for the 8:00 opening. Stood out there in the cold, we waited for those doors to open so we could finally pick up BioShock, a game we'd waited months for. And while finally being able to play the game was certainly amazing, the best part was the fact that the three of us went together to buy it. That social experience is something that sitting in front of a computer watching a download percentage could never hope to replicate.
Then of course there's the game box itself. Firstly there's the artwork. Truly great artwork on a game box can catch my eye in a shop and cause me to stop what I'm doing and at least check out the back of the case. And of course there are the debates among my friends and I. Which artwork is better, Dead Space or Valkyria Chronicles? Should the default Commander Shepard be on the cover of Mass Effect considering my in game character looks completely different?
Secondly, there's the excitement. It's hard to deny the excitement I felt when, after queueing half an hour for my copy of Grand Theft Auto IV, I took it home and slowly unwrapped the cellophane, savouring that new game smell, looking at the map of the new Liberty City and reading the manual.
As I said already, gaming is more than simply acquiring and playing a game. Get rid of physical games, and you're getting rid of half the experience.
From the beginning of the current console generation, consumers paid the "next-gen tax" of a $10 price hike on most HD games because the industry could use the excuse of increased development costs. Not shipping. Not printing. Not warehouses. Development costs.
With the industry spiraling out of control into ever increasing budgets and development costs, you would be a fool to imagine that digital distribution will be used to give consumers a "break" by the Big Publishers.
Digital distribution is the future in terms of technology and ease of access but in a rapaciously and ruthlessly corporatist society, it's also a powerful tool for corporations to reduce customers even further to anthropomorphic wallets that suck at the corporation's teet while dolling out money. Don't be fooled - if corporations can swing it, they'll make it so that nobody anywhere (aside from them) truly owns anything that can possibly be worth a dollar. If they could rent your clothing to you, they would.