Valve's Steam paved the way for digital distribution, and now the Big Three console makers are jumping in with both feet. Microsoft's Xbox Live Arcade, and the forthcoming virtual console service on Nintendo's Revolution, both look to resurrect the beloved classic titles we grew up with. At the same time, independent game developers will be able to deliver their content directly to gamers. TwitchGuru explores the future of digital distribution.
Eh... I'm not a big fan of digital distribution. If given the option, I'd rather own a physical copy of a game. If I were to purchase a game over digital distribution, I would expect to pay a lower price than I would in retail. I was on direct2drive's website checking out Oblivian a few days ago. I honestly see no incentive to purchase the game through them when its priced the same as what I would pay by ordering it online or going to a store and buying it. Now if it were $10 cheaper due to not having any packaging or printed manuals, then it might be something I would consider... In the end, I would probably just go out to a store and buy it anyways.
I'd have to agree with Superbrett at this point -- there's not as much incentive to go digital. I decided to pick up the Half-Life anthology the other day (because I have no idea where my original copy of Half-Life 1 is). When I grabbed my copy and went to the counter at my nearby EB, the guy looked at me weird and told me I should just get a steam account and download the games. I told him I did have a Steam account, and since the games were the same price, I'd rather have the physical product instead of just the digital copy.
That said, I think eventually a lot more indy and alternative games that you can't get via retail will start to use digital distribution, so that will provide incentives for buyers. Also, I have a feeling a number of major developers will start to lower the prices on games for digital distribution, which will be huge.
It is interesting that these kind of articles rarely mention the true pioneer in digital distribution: Stardock. You could by the software and later games there well before you could do it on steam! Galactic Civilizations anyone? Yet when there is any noise about digital distribution it is steam, steam, steam... What's wrong with you people?
And I personally started pref ere Stardock way of distribution to standard CD/DVD way. It is very inconvenient a) remember where you CD is b) be careful not to lose it/brake it c) Same goes with manuals
With Stardock, as long as you remember your login name/password you are fine. You can download your game/manual as many times as you want. And the games actually are cheaper there, because you get discount when you buy tokens. I only wish that they had more good games there.
You make an excellent point, MxM. Stardock's Drengin Network, which became TotalGaming.net, beat Steam by about a year. But I think Stardock has been overshadowed by Steam because A) Stardock's titles weren't as popular or accessible as Half-Life and CounterStrike, and B) many people thought Stardock's subscription model -- paying a flat fee for all content -- was flawed. That said, you're absolutely correct that Stardock deserves more credit.