The Digital Pimp

The Digital Pimp

The industry desperately wants digital distribution to happen - but should the customers?

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DL only console? Sounds like the one that was never released, the Phantom.

nah, zero physical games means i go outside, theres something special about owning 3 shelves full of games

dogstile:
nah, zero physical games means i go outside, theres something special about owning 3 shelves full of games

I agree, with digital downloads you certainly don't get the same satisfaction as owning a physical copy of that game.

To answer the question, I doubt that the consumer will ever truly back digital downloads, whilst the industry may push it, I believe that most gamers would rather have actual copies. This is just what I think.

The links on the second page of the article all seem to give me 404 errors.

I don't like the growing hostility in the industry towards the second-hand market. I'm sure that just like myself, many other people here wouldn't have played half the games they have, or have as much of a love of the games industry, without having the option to buy cheaper second hand games in their younger years.

I also agree with the other posters in that I love having physical copies to collect and look at. I'm also worried that if I had a large collection of digital games, and a sudden disaster led to me having a new hard drive but no internet connection then I would be unable to install my games. (This argument seems a little irrational now I write it down, many similar arguments could be levelled towards discs, but perhaps I feel this way because I take good care of my games and don't tend to lose things.)

not to mention the happy atmosphere in my local game store. i like the experience of buying from people, not a server.

My problem with having games be entirely digital is that
1) Having a physical copy means you own it forever.
2) This might be my experience only, but from the few games through steam require you to connect to steam, so you always have to be online. I bought F.E.A.R2 through steam, internet was out in my dorm couldn't play it.
3) No real guarantee that the company will be around forever, suddenly it goes under goodbye to your games if something happens to your pc etc.
4) If they really want to convince people that it saves cost on packaging etc, then why are the steam versions and such still the same price as the retail?
5) It kills the used game market, while that benefits the people pushing this directly, most gamers are probably against it.

I recall the Phantom wanting to be a DL-only console...

One upside I've seen for download services is that smaller and cheaper games get more exposure. Between the 50€ blockbusters you'll see 10€ and similar titles. With a disruption already tearing through the blockbuster-driven core market this may just be another way to save the industry by breaking through the blockbuster mentality and possibly making even large companies realize that smaller and cheaper games may be a better deal for everybody. I definitely prefer them over the boring brown-gray mass sold at retail these days.

The biggest downside has one name: Wal-Mart. Not only are the majority of potential customers for a game not online (or at least not looking for games online), Wal-Mart may object to a download-only focus and try to eliminate anyone who tries that. I think they already exact pressure on distributors. That's why steam versions cost the same as retail versions, the various companies involved in bringing a game to retail don't like being sidestepped.

The day I have no alternative but to download 15-30gb games through a cable is the day I stop buying games.

I don't think I'd ever pay 60 bucks for a DLC only game. The problem with the digital market is that despite Steam's lovely numbers, all of those games selling like mad are either being temporarily used by the user (trial versions) or are going for a cheap price. Although games are certainly adapting by being shorter and quirkier for this new market, I don't see games as we know them today surviving in it. DLC moves a different kind of product entirely.

L.B. Jeffries:
I don't think I'd ever pay 60 bucks for a DLC only game. The problem with the digital market is that despite Steam's lovely numbers, all of those games selling like mad are either being temporarily used by the user (trial versions) or are going for a cheap price. Although games are certainly adapting by being shorter and quirkier for this new market, I don't see games as we know them today surviving in it. DLC moves a different kind of product entirely.

Yup. I don't mind dropping 10 dollars or so on DLC content (game, extra content, whatever), because... it's 10 bucks. Even if the game sits on my hard drive and never gets played for years afterwards, that's okay. But I like the option of loaning / selling a game if I'm going to spend 60 dollars for it new. It's a bit ridiculous to assume that a game will retain value and interest for its original buyer; selling in a non-portable, non-transferable form will only mean that the average gamer will play fewer games overall.

Christian Ward:
The Digital Pimp

The industry desperately wants digital distribution to happen - but should the customers?

Permalink

I have many concerns with digital downloads and the transfer of ownership and the control of downloadable content which can be updated to our consoles without knowing the details and the possibility of reversion to a previous iteration.

Prices should come down with overheads but without the incentive of stock to push out older games companies will have no reason to reduce price.

I see the future as expensive and out of our hands.

I personally am against digital distribution being the only means to own a game, I don't trade in my games much but like the collections of games I have on my shelfs. I also hate the inability to loan my game to a friend, its happened twice already this year I lent my game to a friend and he then bought it, so isn't that a plus for the industry? If digital distribution becomes the only way to own a game then I will stop owning games, I will get new hobbies.

So to answer the question directly, consumers should not want digital distribution.

If I'm going to be spending more time in Australia, I'd be infinitely worried about my bandwidth limit when downloading games. East/South East Asia is pretty generous with its bandwidth (namely, none), but most of the world does not have that kind of network infrastructure. Digital distribution would literally limit the amount of purchase that people can make even if they have all the money in the world.

I've bought 2 full retail games DL style. HL2 because for an extra small fee I was given access to most of Valve's back catalog of games. The other game was Burnout Paradise on PSN for 30 bucks which was the same price I could have bought in a disc. Why? It was convenient and the game loads of my HDD instead of a disc insuring smaller loading times and the insurance I will never scratch my disc.

I've also bought games like flower from the PSN. It's because it offers great value. For 10 dollars I get an innovative game with AAA graphics and a top notch narrative. 1/6 the price of a full retail new game. It's not 1/6 the length and it's certainly not 1/6 the experience. Sure, I can't sell Flower back, but given it's price it's resale would be like what? 3 bucks max. Not a huge loss.

I like the idea that I can play games of my HDD, because I can be sure I'll never have to rebuy the game due to a scratch or loss as long as Sony(or M$ or whatever) is still in buisness.

Positive- Less clutter, easy to distribute indy games, worldwide price and more convenient game purchase

Negative- No physical discs, which is a HUGE problem if the company ever goes under, as it will take your games with it. requires internet access, and it will put physical game stores out of business.

It all balances out TBH. Some downloaded games? No worries. Only downloaded games? Now we have a problem.

I've bought a lot of games physically, and a lot of games virtually. I've been so far much happier with one method... of course, Steam's long-term stability is the load-bearing support upon which I base my preferance and support of the virtual model.

Since they updated to the point where bandwidth costs don't matter to me anymore (ie: I can select a content server manually, and I choose the one that my ISP doesn't charge me to download from), I've been much happier to buy from them. It's just so much more convenient than driving up to the shops. "Purchase" button on their web storefront, my credit details, and I leave it running, downloading, for the next couple hours, or even overnight if I can't be bothered burning bandwidth when I'm looking to play Team Fortress or City of Heroes. An Indie game doesn't even take than long, almost always under an hour. I don't need to deal with the hassle of EB being out of stock, or overpricing, or getting a release date wrong. It's all done right.*

When I'm playing a PC game through Steam, I've got IM access to all the friends I've made using the platform - a powerful incentive. I can chat to the rest of the social clan I'm in, and all the friends I've made along the way. I can even invite them to come play whatever I'm playing just by rightclicking on them. Not even Games for Windows Live works so smoothly. Not to mention that GFWL's interface is massive, slow, and ugly, where Steam's is small, swift, sleek. Though it's still not very appealing to look at, one's way better than the other.

In addition to those benefits, I pay global prices, not bullshit regional prices. So it's cheaper for me to buy on Steam than I am at a store. And that takes into account the pathetic Aussie dollar right now, too. $60USD is $85AUD right now - which saves me $15Au-$35Au a game. That's a 17-40%** saving. Up to fourty percent cheaper. And no petrol used, either.

And that I can buy games on Steam giving money directly to publishers/developers without paying overheads like transport, retail markups, production cost for the packaging, etc, just makes it all the better. With Indie games, I don't even pay the publishers a slice. It all goes straight to whoever made that awesome game. Bit-Blot, Introversion, I'm so happy to be able to support those guys directly. That said, Valve takes a slice... but I'd much rather pay Valve money so they can make me awesome things and get better service from Steam than pay THQ or Ubisoft to -not- patch my game for the next 12 months, or for a console port that has poor controls and crashes every 20 minutes.

That said, if there's a collector's edition with awesome extras, I'm more likely to buy that than buy via Steam. As long as they're good. Like Dawn of War II's extras. Bonus content in the game, some kind of figurine or model; if I'm a fan of the franchise, I'll likely evaluate my choices very carefully to see what I'd rather have. So it's not like I'm a fanatic who disregards everything offered by retail - sometimes they do offer more.

But most of the time, they offer the same or less for a higher price***. And I'm not willing to put up with that anymore.


* Addendum - I did hear that The Last Remnant had some kind of issue with launch, so it's not 100%. But one game... ever... versus how many times EB screwed me over?

** Clarification - 15/85 = 0.17, and 35/85 = 0.41. Hence those figures.

*** Explanation - At the time of writing, the price difference is $27Au in favour of Steam.

dogstile:
theres something special about owning 3 shelves full of games

Agreed. I'm not convinced about all digital etc. There are advantages, but after a while you'll surely run out of memory. Plus many other things that I've forgotten about.

For bargain, retro, and indie games there is no other practical market than digital downloads. I have waited about ten years between game projects due to the lack of a viable market place for these types of games from a developers point of view. Now the world is wide open to all types of games and a much greater connection between developers and gamers. Plus as an added bonus I can develop games that I want to play and not just games that follow a set formula or genre convention. Don't get me wrong I still enjoy buying the Fallout 3 lunch box at retail, but I am so glad the digital age is here. My XBox community game is ZenHak, check it out if you ever wanted to cross RPGs, SciFi, and craps.

Cheers!

AndyVale:

dogstile:
theres something special about owning 3 shelves full of games

Agreed. I'm not convinced about all digital etc. There are advantages, but after a while you'll surely run out of memory. Plus many other things that I've forgotten about.

You'll run out of shelf-space before I run out of hard-drive space, methinks. And new shelves are harder to get inside your house than hard-drives ^^

Fenixius:

AndyVale:

dogstile:
theres something special about owning 3 shelves full of games

Agreed. I'm not convinced about all digital etc. There are advantages, but after a while you'll surely run out of memory. Plus many other things that I've forgotten about.

You'll run out of shelf-space before I run out of hard-drive space, methinks. And new shelves are harder to get inside your house than hard-drives ^^

I'm okay with a hammer and nails. Hard drives scare me.

no box, no disc, no manual, no pay.

If I'm downloading a game, it's because i can't legally buy it in this country
*Glares at Atkinson*

 

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