Sunday, 1 February 2009

Digital distribution

Do you remember when driving to the store was a necessity for getting a game? Or when you had to get your butt off the sofa in order to get a good, competitive matchup at your local arcade place? Or maybe when you had a buddy along your side, playing split-screen games, laughing, drinking and having a blast at your home? Don`t you miss these moments, these social events or feelings when you really get to buy and hold a physical copy of a game? If you do, you should continue to read this article, as we start to discuss the future of digital distribution.

Is the path we are on today really the way to go? We now have all these 24h connected devices everywhere, in our pocket, at our home and maybe, even in our cars. You can download games, play online with your friends (and new friends), we get our news in a snap, mainly from blogs, resulting in closings all over the place, mainly in print media. Should these “new” online options really be the future for us, sadly yes?

If we begin with the print media, we can see, with the recent closing of many mainstream gaming papers in the states, that it is sadly an end of an era. Printing press cannot withstand the avalanche that is mainstream blogs and online publications. The news should come quickly, it should be brief and today’s generation also wants moving images or audio for everything. This is a generational question, many in my age, that grew up during an era when online discussions was mainly done trough IRC channels, do not want the print media to disappear, we still want to read long articles, see nice images, printed on good quality papers, and we also want to have physical editions to take out and remember from later on. This is not the case with the youth today.

It is an old cliché, but the young generation is always the ones shaping the future and making revolts in different ways. Print media will be gone, completely in 10 years time, and if these companies want to survive, they need to shift all resources to the online space. Give people HD material, many video options, good articles, user generated options and so on.

The second thing to talk about is the rise of digital downloads/stores. This has become a mainstream option for many companies today, the biggest reason for this is the new generation of consoles that now offer the same thing that PC has done for ages, downloads, stores and so on. The second reason is the … of broadband lines. Now, when the online options is being transferred to the living room, where you mostly spend your time, also, where the family gathers, the option for companies to reach out to its customers is huge today. It is imperative that companies succeeds in this field, and we will definitively see more corporate pushing in this online market, if these will need to cooperate with Sony or Microsoft to do this in the future, that remains to be seen, but it is the future none the less.

Notable is also that it is now easier than ever for children to buy gods from companies trough their console. Just think back on your own youth, how much stuff would you not have gotten if it was this easy to buy new games and such? You do not need a car, you do not need to ask your parents, just buy, buy, and buy!

For me, digital distribution and online stores is just fine, but it needs to be regulated. It needs to have a good interface; companies must begin to take away shovel ware, unnecessary games and peripherals, regulate game company’s decisions, so that they do not take advantage of these options, offering over priced add-ons and so on. These things are imperative in order to get a good, wholesome, online console space.

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