By Jerr 1 Comments
Hey friendos, drummed this up a couple days ago on my blog http://gamesbizguru.wordpress.com/. Let me know what you think.
Last Friday, a little game called The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim was released. After a heavy night of drinking, I sat in my underwear at 3 in the morning and began the install process on my PC, after already pre-installing the game on Steam.
Meanwhile, my brother had just arrived home but an hour before from a sub-zero temperature wait at the local EB Games (Canada’s GameStop equivalent), to recieve his pre-ordered copy of the game on Xbox 360 at a midnight release.
And thus is a microcosm of what the games industry is going through now in terms of marketing and selling games to consumers. PC gamers are embracing digital download services like Steam, with 35 million active user accounts. With retail sales for PC plunging, it is safe to say that much of the PC crowd has moved on to digital distribution. The key here is convenience, as there is no need to go to the store and physically exchange money with the digital model; all you need is a credit card number or a paypal account, and an internet connection.
However, the stumbling block for digital distribution is the fact that it is so PC centric. Retail sales are still king in the console markets. Why? Because there’s simply no infrastructure for big, new games to be downloaded on to consoles day one. Both the 360 and PS3 have their fledgling full-game download services, but they almost always only carry older, “classic” games, with a few exceptions for the PS3 (such as Warhawk). With blockbuster games like Modern Warfare 3 receiving nearly 9 million preorders at retail, it’s apparent that brick and mortar stores aren’t going anywhere.
…Or are they? There are some glimmers in the distance for the digital platform. For example, Sony’s new PS Vita will not use any physical media, relying on consumers to download their games over the internet to their devices. With new technologies in other fields like Netflix and the Roku box (which both rely on the internet to stream or download media onto a device), who’s to say the console manufacturers won’t follow suit with their new systems in the future?
It may sound farfetched, but it could be as easy as offering publishers a better infrastructure to get their games to market digitally, with higher profit margins than manufacturing copies of games and shipping them off to retailers. It’s hard to imagine today, with retailers and publishers having such strong relationships, but let’s not forget about the relationships between the publisher/developer and the hardware companies, which are arguably just as strong. Certainly more radical things have happened in technology in recent years
How did you guys purchase Skyrim? Is it indicative of how you buy most of your games?