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Thread: How Much Longer Will Physical Game Distribution Survive? [Slashdot]

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    Post How Much Longer Will Physical Game Distribution Survive? [Slashdot]

    GamesIndustry is running an interview with Theodore Bergquist, CEO of GamersGate, in which he forecasts the death of physical game distribution in favor of digital methods, perhaps in only a few years. He says, "Look at the music industry, look at 2006 when iTunes went from not being in the top six of sellers — in the same year in December it was top three, and the following year number one. I think digital distribution is absolutely the biggest threat [traditional retailers] can ever have." Rock, Paper, Shotgun spoke with Capcom's Christian Svensson, who insists that developing digital distribution is one of their top priorities, saying Capcom will already "probably do as much digital selling as retail in the current climate." How many of the games you acquire come on physical media these days? At what point will the ease of immediate downloads outweigh a manual and a box to stick on your shelf (if it doesn't already)?
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    20+ years. Seriously, the people who disagree must live in a bubble. Most people I know have no access to anything resembling high speed internet. How the hell are they supposed to download games? Answer: THEY CAN'T.

    Downloadable distribution as the ONLY method is still several console generations away. I have no doubt we'll start to have the option (download vs. physical game) by next generation. When we finally have nationwide, free, wi-fi, high speed internet then we'll talk about 100% digital distribution.

    And as I always mention when these topics come up...Walmart/Target/Gamestop/Best Buy, etc. will never let this happen. Simple as that. They want to make $$$ like everyone else. These "middlemen" won't let go of retail game sales without a fight. It will take years.
    "One of the ways I gauge a DS game is by recharges. "...Tycho (Penny Arcade)

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    I don't think it will go away anytime soon. Unless they start including downloading while on standby, which I doubt. Also people like to usually have the real thing. This isn't mp3's folks.

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    Quote Originally Posted by heybtbm View Post
    20+ years. Seriously, the people who disagree must live in a bubble. Most people I know have no access to anything resembling high speed internet. How the hell are they supposed to download games? Answer: THEY CAN'T.

    Downloadable distribution as the ONLY method is still several console generations away. I have no doubt we'll start to have the option (download vs. physical game) by next generation. When we finally have nationwide, free, wi-fi, high speed internet then we'll talk about 100% digital distribution.

    And as I always mention when these topics come up...Walmart/Target/Gamestop/Best Buy, etc. will never let this happen. Simple as that. They want to make $$$ like everyone else. These "middlemen" won't let go of retail game sales without a fight. It will take years.
    And thus, this thread is complete.
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    Quote Originally Posted by heybtbm View Post
    When we finally have nationwide, free, wi-fi, high speed internet then we'll talk about 100% digital distribution.
    It'll never happen. There's too much money in Internet service provisioning to have free high speed Internet access for all. If anything, ISP's are gearing up to charge us more to download more. Content companies will move to 100% digital distribution, right alongside ISP's introducing a sliding scale for download bandwidth(that scale is already being tested in limited markets, just look at some of the major providers). Everyone on the supply chain's gotta make money, after all.

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    Quote Originally Posted by kaedesdisciple View Post
    It'll never happen. There's too much money in Internet service provisioning to have free high speed Internet access for all. If anything, ISP's are gearing up to charge us more to download more. Content companies will move to 100% digital distribution, right alongside ISP's introducing a sliding scale for download bandwidth(that scale is already being tested in limited markets, just look at some of the major providers). Everyone on the supply chain's gotta make money, after all.
    I disagree. I think "the internet" as we know it will become something similar to radio or TV signals. It'll be available everywhere and free. TV/internet/movies/music/gaming distribution will become one. You "pay" for it by buying various content. Other content (like TV shows) will be free and paid for by advertising $$$.

    My city (Madison,WI) is already in the midst of "broadcasting" free wi-fi. It's just a matter of years before the entire world is covered.
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    I never understand why these conversations always cause people to take an all or nothing stance on the subject. This doesn't have to be a zero sum game where while digital distribution grows retail distribution has to shrink. Everybody has a telephone these days but that doesn't mean the mailman is out of a job.

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    Sorry, but people, EVEN those that download lots of items. They still like to have a physical copy of something. I guess maybe there are people that enjoy "owning" something that has no physical being.
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    Absolutely ages. The 8th generation of consoles are likely to use blu-ray drives. Blu-ray disks hold 25-50GB (and apparently there are some new ones that hold up to five times that- and are compatible with PS3!!!). Game manufacturers are likely to want to fill that.

    I don't know a single person who can download 25GB in under six hours. Far as I know, it can't be done. Hell, I can't download 25GB in under 2 days. Are people really going to be expected to leave their Xbox 720/1080/e^i*Pi on for 48 hours at a time just to download the latest FIFA? I doubt it. Hell I was wary about the 3 hour download time for tLatD.

    ...And let's not forget that media storage even larger than blu-ray is in development and may well be rolled out by the time the 9th console generation rolls around.

    Download speeds are gaining on storage capacity for games, but not THAT quickly. generations 8 and 9 at the very least will continue to use physical media.

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    I think this is reliant on internet download speeds. Nebagram makes a very good point, at current point of time 25GB is unrealistic. But we can all remember that 100mb on dialup was absurd. Today it is like a couple minutes.

    What is interesting is Bill Gates predicted Blu-ray to be the last video physical media format until it goes completely digital. So I predict that the Blu-ray movies / gaming to be pretty consistent on when that transition happens. The current situation is that normal DVD is no where near being dead, and Blu-ray is a long way off. I wouldn't expect this to happen sooner than 2018 (the earliest).

    And depending on adoption, I think full physical media purchase will still be an option since many consumers (like me) prefer to have something physical to own. I think you can compare this to music because it would just be a move on what % is digital and what % is physical. Consumers can still go to Best Buy and buy a physical CD. The same would be with gaming.
    Last edited by duo_r; 03-05-2009 at 02:40 PM.

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    I feel like this same topic and story has been posted every couple of months here and on just about every other discussion board. I agree that this isn't a case of all or nothing. Just like you can still buy vinyl albums and CDs, you can also buy much of the same music on iTunes or other services. Similarly, you can download lots of older PC games from Gametap or GOG or newer games on Steam, but many of those same games can also be purchased in compilations or value editions or as full boxed copies at Best Buy or Fry's. As long as disc replication and manufacturing continues to be a few dollars a unit, there really is no reason for publishers not to release games in both physical form and as downloads. In fact, with the growth of collector's editions, publishers have new incentives to promote physical copies of games since for a few more dollars spent on creating crap that people don't really need, but oddly want, they can charge another $10-$20 and assure you pay full MSRP for their games at launch. Download speeds will increase in time, although perhaps not as fast as they would have had the economy not gone into the dumper, but even so, there are many people who will prefer to go to a store and buy something physical. Heck, isn't the continuing release of those boxes and cards for download-only content like GTA IV evidence that there is still a lot of demand for this type of physical representation of a game, even if there is no disc?

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    Quote Originally Posted by TonyTheTiger View Post
    I never understand why these conversations always cause people to take an all or nothing stance on the subject. This doesn't have to be a zero sum game where while digital distribution grows retail distribution has to shrink. Everybody has a telephone these days but that doesn't mean the mailman is out of a job.
    no but it means the payphone providers are
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    Not for at least a generation or two after its possible to download 20+ GB files in less than a few hours, which is probably at least five to ten years away.

    We'll be seeing physical games on shelves for a long time, it won't even be possible to switch until storage gets cheaper and transfer times get faster.

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    Hopefully never, I dont even like owning DLC for games much less full games on my HDDs. I want to physically own what I own. I bought the disk version of Siren for PS3 cause I couldnt stand up for the DL.
    Bury me with my money......*dies*

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    Quote Originally Posted by heybtbm View Post
    20+ years. Seriously, the people who disagree must live in a bubble. Most people I know have no access to anything resembling high speed internet. How the hell are they supposed to download games? Answer: THEY CAN'T.

    Downloadable distribution as the ONLY method is still several console generations away. I have no doubt we'll start to have the option (download vs. physical game) by next generation. When we finally have nationwide, free, wi-fi, high speed internet then we'll talk about 100% digital distribution.

    And as I always mention when these topics come up...Walmart/Target/Gamestop/Best Buy, etc. will never let this happen. Simple as that. They want to make $$$ like everyone else. These "middlemen" won't let go of retail game sales without a fight. It will take years.


    I've argued this point ad nasuem in many a thread- mostly in regards to movies though. Movies, games, whatever the media- digital distribution is at least a decade off, but probably more.

    How many times has the digital television changeover been put off, because of the amount of people who still don't have satellite or cable? How many people in this country have dial-up or worse for internet?

    I'm sorry to say, but physical media is here to stay for the foreseeable future- or until we have a nationwide high-speed internet infrastructure.

    Blu-ray, DVD, CDs, Video game Discs, will not be phased out anytime soon. The people who write these goddamn articles, always live in big cities or technologically savvy parts of the country. I live less than an hour outside of Charlotte, NC which up until recently was a major banking hub. I have access only to 26k dial-up or satellite internet, and can't get a decent cell-phone signal around my house. No cable, DSL, or decent mobile broadband is scheduled to be put out here anytime soon.

    Until I see communication trucks laying or hanging some sort of cable in my area, I'm not holding my breath.

    I guess I could have just said "I agree," but I've been struggling to upload a measly 60mb worth wedding videos all day to youtube. The internet has really been pissing me off. Fuck.


    Quote Originally Posted by TonyTheTiger View Post
    I never understand why these conversations always cause people to take an all or nothing stance on the subject. This doesn't have to be a zero sum game where while digital distribution grows retail distribution has to shrink. Everybody has a telephone these days but that doesn't mean the mailman is out of a job.
    The problem is that a lot of these professionally written articles seem to mostly take the stance that the end of physical media is upon us. I know digital distribution is currently working and successful, but the idea that it will be "THE" business model in anything less than 10 years is just plain dumb. Maybe these guys know something that most of the country doesn't? I'd sure like to be privy to these great technology plans that our entertainment content creators have in store for us.


    /rant
    Last edited by TheDomesticInstitution; 03-05-2009 at 04:55 PM.

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    I don't think the technological logistics of doing 100% digital distribution is the only barrier, though.

    We are fully capable of phasing out paper money tomorrow. The cyberpunk idea of "creds" is not out of the question from a technical standpoint. But I doubt it'll happen anytime soon because 1) it's not necessary and 2) people are comfortable with the status quo.

    Amazon.com does well but it isn't putting Best Buy or Wal-Mart out of business. There's something therapeutic about the act of shopping. We're social creatures and it's no surprise that "the marketplace" was the center of countless towns for the last few millennia.

    There's also the piracy issue. Granted, nobody is stopping anybody from pirating media as it is now. But you do get something for buying a hard copy that the pirates do not. In the case of digital distribution, you lose that angle. The only reason then to actually buy the thing would be either the ethical implications or because you don't know how to obtain a pirated copy. Digital distribution might actually increase piracy rather than curb it.
    Last edited by TonyTheTiger; 03-05-2009 at 04:56 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by heybtbm View Post
    And as I always mention when these topics come up...Walmart/Target/Gamestop/Best Buy, etc. will never let this happen. Simple as that. They want to make $$$ like everyone else. These "middlemen" won't let go of retail game sales without a fight. It will take years.
    Exactly. At the very least, as long as there's a physical data storage medium that can be plugged in, there will always be a "Walmart/Target Exclusive Version" marketing deal.

    Also, look at the casual game market. Most of those games can be downloaded in no time at all...yet they are top-sellers at retail locations.
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    Quote Originally Posted by DP ServBot View Post
    GamesIndustry is running an interview with Theodore Bergquist, CEO of GamersGate, in which he forecasts the death of physical game distribution in favor of digital methods, perhaps in only a few years. He says, "Look at the music industry..."
    If physical game distribution dies the home video game console dies with it. Why would a software company pay a video game company to sell what they could sell to PCs on the internet for free?

    Imagine the lunacy of that for a second. Developing a virtual game for a system where only the users of that system could use it (say I don't know, 10-25% of the population) or releasing a virtual version of that game on the internet which about 95% of the population would have access to?

    A "non-traditional" system like the Wii is the only way I could imagine that even being feasible. Handhelds might work too.

    Getting rid of physical distribution would do to the video game industry the same thing it did to the music industry; Kill it. Really think about it. There are no more Rock Stars.

    Now musicians get popular by getting their songs in commercials or movies (see Feist) The only Rock Stars we have now are the leftovers from the era before iTunes came along and the characters from whatever Disney channel show is hot with the twelve-year olds and creepy old men this week.

    The only way you want this to happen is if you want to spend all day downloading (legally or illegally) a bunch of obscure games you've never heard of to find out which ones are good. Because the market will be flooded with mediocre games. Remember what happened to the video game industry the last time it was flooded by cheap and mediocre games?

    It happened in about 1983.

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    As I've said in other threads, I really can't wait for digital distribution to take over. Books, newspapers, movies, music, TV shows and games. It's obviously the future and the way forward, so there's no point complaining about it.

    Give it 10 - 15 years and I'm sure most people will have their daily newspaper sat on their eBook reader (or iPhone or M$ Surface type device) at 6am every morning. I can also see services like NetFlix becoming the norm. Who wants to be tied to broadcast schedules? I want to watch what I want, when I want.

    I'm really hoping that these rumours regarding a PSP 4000 sans UMD drive are true. It'd be very interesting to see a mainstream gaming product take the first leap into digital distribution only. I'm sure that PSP and Gameboy/DS will go this route first, it seems to make sense.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ToddofDoom View Post
    Remember what happened to the video game industry the last time it was flooded by cheap and mediocre games?
    The Wii.

    But, in all seriousness, you have a point that home consoles would be pretty pointless with 100% digital distribution. What I think digital distribution advocates are aiming towards is what Microsoft and Sony hinted at for the 360 and PS3 in their E3 PR nonsense. They're suggesting that we're leaving the era of "this is the computer, that's the TV, that's the game console, that's the DVD player, yadda yadda..." and walking into the era of "this is the home entertainment device."

    I have a few issues with that.

    First of all, even collective function machines that do make sense tend to not outperform the separate versions. They sell Printer/Fax Machine/Scanner hybrids but a lot of people still prefer to get them all separate.

    Also, it sounds too...infomercial, if that makes any sense. It slices, it dices, it makes the perfect piece of toast! I just can't shake this feeling that it's not a great idea from even a business perspective let alone a consumer one.

    Quote Originally Posted by CosmicMonkey View Post
    As I've said in other threads, I really can't wait for digital distribution to take over. Books, newspapers, movies, music, TV shows and games. It's obviously the future and the way forward, so there's no point complaining about it.

    Give it 10 - 15 years and I'm sure most people will have their daily newspaper sat on their eBook reader (or iPhone or M$ Surface type device) at 6am every morning. I can also see services like NetFlix becoming the norm. Who wants to be tied to broadcast schedules? I want to watch what I want, when I want.

    I'm really hoping that these rumours regarding a PSP 4000 sans UMD drive are true. It'd be very interesting to see a mainstream gaming product take the first leap into digital distribution only. I'm sure that PSP and Gameboy/DS will go this route first, it seems to make sense.
    Nobody is saying that digital distribution won't expand. It obviously will. But I just don't think this zero sum game theory is realistic. Nothing works that way. The U.S. Navy is still active even though naval influence over the grand scheme of warfare diminished greatly in favor of air power.
    Last edited by TonyTheTiger; 03-05-2009 at 05:50 PM.

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