A research and consultancy firm predicts that the boxed retail version of Grand Theft Auto V will not include a disc.
Surprise! It's not Michael Pachter! No, this one comes from Newzoo, "an international full service market research and consulting firm completely focused on the games industry," and it's so out-of-left-field that even Mr. Pach Attack himself probably wouldn't go near it.
"There are a lot of reasons why publishers are pushing towards digital distribution of triple-A games. Speaking out loud might harm the relationship with retail partners, but the benefits have become too large to remain silent about the desire to go completely digital," Newzoo CEO Peter Warman said in a recent report on DLC. "The ultimate objective being to launch games faster, create continuous revenues on a title and simply to make more money. Will retail disappear from the picture? Of course not. Retail will always remain an important channel to promote and distribute games. Retail has a strong hand to play when it comes to eyeballs and... boxes make a nice gift."
And then he gets to the interesting bit. "Boxed games will not disappear, but what is in the box will," he continued. "That is why the boxed GTA V version will contain a collectible piece of merchandise and a download code. No disc."
No disc? That's a bold prediction. I'm not an expert [or even an analyst] but I think it's a bit premature; as hard as it is for some people to believe, a significant portion of the population still lives in areas where high-volume digital distribution is impractical at best. It's one thing to activate a game online or connection to a DRM server, but another thing entirely to download a multi-gigabyte game in its entirety over a connection that may be throttled, capped or just plain crappy.
Those most reliant on retail channels for their games, in other words, tend to be the same people who can't just take home a code and download them, while most of those who can will just order them from home. That leaves a very narrow slice of gamers who are dedicated enough to their title of choice to cruise to the mall and lay down their money for some extra room-cluttering junk, just so they can turn around and drive home to actually get their game. Maybe someday, for some titles, but today? I just don't see it happening.