Retail remains important, according to Microsoft's Vice President of Interactive Entertainment Shane Kim, who said simultaneous retail and digital game releases its upcoming Games on Demand service is a long way off.
In an interview with Fast Company, Kim said there are numerous "complex issues" to be dealt with, from both the technical and business standpoints, before simultaneous retail and digital game releases over Games of Demand can be considered. "When it comes to us saying we want Games on Demand to enable day-and-date release of new titles, then there's certainly a lot of work we would need to go through," he said. We're not anywhere close to that world today."
Microsoft is a "big believer" in digital distribution, Kim said, but also reiterated the company's commitment to conventional retail channels and said that its move into digital distribution is intended to grow the market, not move it from one segment to another. "Everything we've done in digital distribution spaces has expanded the market, has not been a share-shift between retail and online," he continued. "And we think the effect will be the same thing here. It's a natural evolution, not only of the capabilities of the service, but the expansion of the business model that we offer, not only internally, but to our business partners."
Games on Demand is set to launch on August 11 with more than 30 titles, including hits like Assassin's Creed, Mass Effect and BioShock. Plans for pricing remain unknown, but the service will allow for credit card purchases rather than requiring the use of Microsoft Points as Xbox Live currently does.
"We have great relationships with the retail channel - they're important partners," he continued. "We sell a lot of hardware and software through retail channels. We have to be smart about how we approach this business."
Scott Austin, Microsoft's Director of Digitally Distributed Games, echoed many of Kim's statements when talking to The Escapist's Tom Endo.