Jimquisition: Welcoming A Digital Future

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TheKasp:

For the infrastructure: We'll see. I hope for everyone that they get at least the same internet I have and I can't understand why the US is so far behind...

In my mind, there's two pretty clear reasons. First, take a look at this:

You see how the eastern part of the united states is pretty populated, and then slightly left of center the population is a lot sparser? This is the biggest thing holding US infrastructure back, there are many areas, particularly in the midwest, where the amount of investment needed to lay down wire has a very very small return. The best internet in the US is in high-population eastern cities, where there's plenty of opportunity for return. If the US wanted to focus on its infrastructure this could be dealt with, but that leads into the second point.

The US is beyond broke. Despite our standard of living, despite how involved we are in foreign wars, we are $17 TRILLION in debt. Among all other things, this means that the US government itself cannot afford to invest in infrastructure, we can barely keep existing infrastructure repaired if that, new infrastructure is something we can't afford as a nation, and since the low-density areas of the country don't provide as much of a return, ISP companies aren't likely to make investments of their own out there.

You compare this to European nations that have smaller total area with higher average population densities, and you can see why Europe has much better infrastructure (not just internet, but also trains and buses etc.) than the US does.

If digital gaming can find an alternative to the "always online" situation, then I might sway my opinion towards it.

I'd rather not be forced to keep my products down to whatever size constraint my hard drive will allow. Not to mention you'll lose everything when whatever device is storing your digital products breaks, or the server goes down, or the company goes under. Physical hard copies are real things that can carry the product for as long as it exists, while digital copies are too dependent on too many variables; the servers, your computer, the company, your account, security issues. Not to mention you don't even own the item in question you bought, while a DVD or game disc has to be physically taken from you in order for the company to repossess it.

(The number 5 entry on this cracked article from yesterday better explains it.)

There's too many advantages to owning a physical object for them to disappear in the "digital era".

So long as there are significant fixed costs and marketing to be done, the Publisher will always have a role.

So the question becomes: "How large of a role will they have?"
Starting out, the digital age is quite scary, not because we don't know how it works but because it begins with the Publisher having nearly all the cards.

They will begin by enticing customers into using their system, let them purchase some titles, and then slowly squeeze them by requesting more and more from them. Limited installs. Activity periods. Demanding increasingly pervasive access to your computer for "Their securities/marketing".
And if you don't play nice, they take all those games you paid near-retail-price away from you.

Without some securities for the customer, these systems become "The Eternal Rental" in practice, not just on paper.

There's already people looking for alternatives, the Extra Credits indie fund is one and I know devs in the UK are looking into the legal issues behind setting up publishing co-operatives so more of them could try something like the Double Fine kickstarter.

I'm old and still buy boxes where possible, but I'm no Luddite; digital is definitely where things are going, and like Jim said mobile's already shown that smaller devs can compete with the big names far easier in the digital space. Sure we might end up with less big AAA titles, but given that most of those sorts of things are either sequels (CoD, GoW, Battlefield, FIFA, Final Fantasy etc.) or funded by deep pocketed nerds (Kingdoms of Amalur), that's not necessarily a bad thing for games in general.

There's also a massive potential for extra revenue for the publishers/devs, digital as standard makes the physical items a scarcity, meaning they can wait to see the reaction on a game and release limited physical copies for prices well above the standard to sell to hardcore fans (or old types like me). If memory serves there's a good number of bands that already do that sort of thing and do well with it.

The only thing that really concerns me is what terms these digital services would have, if I can keep a DRM free copy of the game on my own machine it's all cool; if it's a case that (larger publishers especially) try and follow the old-school DRM laden model with EULAs that give them total power over my games, then I'm going to be far more reluctant to give up my boxes.

Mind all of this is only really valid for countries with good levels of high speed broadband (and countries where data isn't capped/metered). Any move into digital only is going to rely on Telecomms and ISPs playing fair with customers, governments investing in infrastructure, and things like ongoing net neutrality. Promoting a game worldwide using the internet is easy enough, actually distributing it needs a lot more bandwidth.

kiri2tsubasa:

Exactly, this is a problem that people keep glossing over. Where I live for $60.00 a month you get 5 gig internet cap. For over $100 a month you get unlimited no cap internet. So if the PC market, and it seems to be going this way goes to a pure digital distribution model, then people like me will be ignored because we suffer due to internet caps. The only other way for us to game is by consoles since you can play them without being connected to the internet.

Holy crap? Five gigs? I'm feeling lucky now, with Comcast.

Which I shouldn't have to. The cap is there to prevent them from having to install better infrastructure, which cots them money. That's dirty pool.

But still, there are a lot of bad caps about the country right now, which will make gaming either impractical or prohibitively expensive (Some of the "limitless" plans are more expensive than even the one you mentioned).

And console gaming may switch more to a DD model.

RandV80:

While digital distribution co-exists with physical retail I don't know if it can really change the price, or at the very least not without digital having a good market share for 5-10 years.

iTunes didn't have to do this. Hell, there were multiple, viable DD models a long time ago. all of them cheaper than retail.

As long as publishers still need retailers to sell physical copies of the games, the retailers will have the clout to enforce an equal selling price across all platforms.

Just like iTunes. Hell, kust like game prices are universal cross-platform.

I'd say this falls apart under scrutiny, but I don't even think you need to say "under scrutiny" in this case.

Force them to sell at a higher cost than digital and it likely won't be long until Gamestop goes down the Blockbuster road, and I don't think publishers are ready to throw them under the bus just yet.

Well, yes. Obviously, especially Gamestop. You know, the same Gamestop who makes their money by selling used games at almost retail prices? They're SO going to go the "Blockbuster" route.

But I have to strongly disagree with the Steam sales not counting, why wouldn't they?

Primarily, because unlike the iTunes model Jim was using, they're temporary. Even the most comprehensive sales aren't a viable price break model. Apples and oranges, chum.

While they can't sell new games cheaper because they're still tied in with retailers, once the game is no longer new and leaves retail shelves then digital has full control to use creative pricing practices, and the consumer whens big time... assuming they had the patience to wait a while for the games.

I get the feeling, however, we're talking about two different things. However, what you are saying is untrue: Steam has had discounted pricing on new titles, including Saints Row the Third. I think Fable 3 was another one discounted at or right after launch, and there have even been pre-order discounts. So obviously, they aren't tied in with retailers. At least, not in any way that relates to the above.

If they're tied in for any reason, it's more likely that it's due to the companies wanting to eat the profit. Occam's Razor: Straight up greed, or some retailer marketing conspiracy that requires multiple steps?

Nurb:

What happens if say, in 10-15 years, Steam or Valve is out of business, do you still have your library of games that can be installed and played without needing steam servers to be up? Is this library completely dependent on a company being in business in order to have anything to show for it when you get older? If so, people may realize they've flushed their money down the toilet

Valve has said that if Steam goes down, they will send an unlock update that would allow people to play their games without steam. They even claim that it works. So if that happens we'll just have to wait and see.

RoseArch:
Sorry, Jim, but it isn't quite that simple. A fully digital future is a dire one indeed, because I doubt that even in fifty years, the entire world will have access to an internet that allows them to download gigabytes upon gigabytes. Or to hardware that will store that amount. Cloud gaming? Again, requires a good internet and constant internet connection. As it stands, gaming will have to go the way of music where the market is half hard copy and half digital. That is a good future.

A large portion, while not yet a majority, of the world already can do that. if anything piracy is the best proof. people there download terabites of information in billions of copies. we have the technology. we have the ability. what we need is old dinosaur ISPs to get their heads out of they other ends and start updating the cables.
as for storage. a 100 dollar hard drive can store 1000-2000 gygabites and the number is rising very fast. we have already beaten the dollar/gb that of a empty dvd drives. direct download is cheaper for both parties.

SkarKrow:
Issue: What about console sources? If the major hardware companies go digital only we will pretty much have prices dictated to you. Frankly, who the fuck wants to pay 55 for Bodycount because the publisher said so and SCEE don't give a fuck about us?

EDIT: Before I'm told to get a PC instead, I simply can't afford to get my PC up to snuff and won't be able to for a good 3 or 4 years. So yeah.

sell your console + your console games
for the moeny you get buy a PC + same games on PC (which is cheaper due to variuos distributors like steam).
you are already good enough to play all the games out atm. may not be on max graphics, then again your console wasnt providing such graphics anyway.
the only problem is console-exclusive games. but lets face it, there isnt that many of them.

esperandote:
I don't understand something. Why developers can develope games on their own to be published digitally but cant develope a game on their own to be distributed physically by a publisher, pay them for that and keep the IP?

because no publisher would ever agree to that. they want either full control or your IP is dead.

Kumagawa Misogi:

An example of a technology dead end you say? in atmosphere manned flight speed.

1903 wright brothers first powered manned flight speed 6.82mph

1967 North American X-15 4,519mph

64 years difference between the two and yet 45 years later NO progress.

your example doesnt work. speed of flight is limited to power of engine and resistance of air. computer processing power is only limited in how much ahrdware you put into it. as we approach time where magnetic levitating inside microschemes are becoming reality, we will be able to put more and more hardware into smaller machines. computing power is nowhere close to a deadend. infact we already have a millino times faster computer - our brain. some say that this is a deadend of computing power. if it is, at the current trend (each year computing power doubles) we are still hundreds of years from it.

kiri2tsubasa:

Exactly, this is a problem that people keep glossing over. Where I live for $60.00 a month you get 5 gig internet cap. For over $100 a month you get unlimited no cap internet. So if the PC market, and it seems to be going this way goes to a pure digital distribution model, then people like me will be ignored because we suffer due to internet caps. The only other way for us to game is by consoles since you can play them without being connected to the internet.

You seriuosly need to beat the shit out of your internet service providers.
we have caps here. at 15 dollars a month you get a 100gb cap. at 20 dollars a month you get a 500 gb cap. at 25 dollars a month you get unlimited. if you are loyal (read: with the company for 3 years) you get unlimited for 15 dollars a month. If you are only playing online games though you got nothing to worry about. usually internet games wouldnt run a 1gb even if left online 24/7. the trouble for you is to actually download the game, as they gotten to 16 gb nowdays.

Strazdas:

RoseArch:
Sorry, Jim, but it isn't quite that simple. A fully digital future is a dire one indeed, because I doubt that even in fifty years, the entire world will have access to an internet that allows them to download gigabytes upon gigabytes. Or to hardware that will store that amount. Cloud gaming? Again, requires a good internet and constant internet connection. As it stands, gaming will have to go the way of music where the market is half hard copy and half digital. That is a good future.

A large portion, while not yet a majority, of the world already can do that. if anything piracy is the best proof. people there download terabites of information in billions of copies. we have the technology. we have the ability. what we need is old dinosaur ISPs to get their heads out of they other ends and start updating the cables.
as for storage. a 100 dollar hard drive can store 1000-2000 gygabites and the number is rising very fast. we have already beaten the dollar/gb that of a empty dvd drives. direct download is cheaper for both parties.

SkarKrow:
Issue: What about console sources? If the major hardware companies go digital only we will pretty much have prices dictated to you. Frankly, who the fuck wants to pay 55 for Bodycount because the publisher said so and SCEE don't give a fuck about us?

EDIT: Before I'm told to get a PC instead, I simply can't afford to get my PC up to snuff and won't be able to for a good 3 or 4 years. So yeah.

sell your console + your console games
for the moeny you get buy a PC + same games on PC (which is cheaper due to variuos distributors like steam).
you are already good enough to play all the games out atm. may not be on max graphics, then again your console wasnt providing such graphics anyway.
the only problem is console-exclusive games. but lets face it, there isnt that many of them.

esperandote:
I don't understand something. Why developers can develope games on their own to be published digitally but cant develope a game on their own to be distributed physically by a publisher, pay them for that and keep the IP?

because no publisher would ever agree to that. they want either full control or your IP is dead.

Kumagawa Misogi:

An example of a technology dead end you say? in atmosphere manned flight speed.

1903 wright brothers first powered manned flight speed 6.82mph

1967 North American X-15 4,519mph

64 years difference between the two and yet 45 years later NO progress.

your example doesnt work. speed of flight is limited to power of engine and resistance of air. computer processing power is only limited in how much ahrdware you put into it. as we approach time where magnetic levitating inside microschemes are becoming reality, we will be able to put more and more hardware into smaller machines. computing power is nowhere close to a deadend. infact we already have a millino times faster computer - our brain. some say that this is a deadend of computing power. if it is, at the current trend (each year computing power doubles) we are still hundreds of years from it.

kiri2tsubasa:

Exactly, this is a problem that people keep glossing over. Where I live for $60.00 a month you get 5 gig internet cap. For over $100 a month you get unlimited no cap internet. So if the PC market, and it seems to be going this way goes to a pure digital distribution model, then people like me will be ignored because we suffer due to internet caps. The only other way for us to game is by consoles since you can play them without being connected to the internet.

You seriuosly need to beat the shit out of your internet service providers.
we have caps here. at 15 dollars a month you get a 100gb cap. at 20 dollars a month you get a 500 gb cap. at 25 dollars a month you get unlimited. if you are loyal (read: with the company for 3 years) you get unlimited for 15 dollars a month. If you are only playing online games though you got nothing to worry about. usually internet games wouldnt run a 1gb even if left online 24/7. the trouble for you is to actually download the game, as they gotten to 16 gb nowdays.

Have I had this before? I have haven't I?

I don't have money, I don't have that many games as is, I trade them in for credit more often than not, I'm living on tiny student loans and nothing else, I can't afford to have enough games to trade in frankly.

Also, there are a significant number of console exclusive games but I won't bother to list them.

Nope disagree 100% If I's paying more than 15$ for something I want a hard copy. Not everyone has unlimited Bandwith caps you know. I live in Canada (Toronto) and pay 40$ a month and have a bandwith cap of 25 gigs. If I'm forced to download all my games I'll be playing far less games. Besides you think publishers are screwing people now? LMAO just wait till everything is digital distribution; hell EA is already been guilty of banning people off their paid content from forum trolling.

Criticizing EA will be a violation of the "Terms of Use" and a ban hammer will be coming forthwith. As for those developers you're speaking of they already exist there called indie companies and they are already totally DD.

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