Posted on Sunday, May 6th, 2012 at 10:00 AM by Guest
After reading some recent stories regarding games developers (such as PlayDead, the creators of Limbo), and the fact that they would only really consider distributing digitally in the future, and the hardware developers Sony (especially) and Microsoft denying that the physical media of discs is obsolete, it seems the game companies are at a stalemate situation with the platform owners.
I can understand Sony’s reluctance to invest in the digital-only market. It had a disastrous launch with the PSP-GO (which I bought due to liking the look of it), which featured download-only access to games. But as XBOX360, PS3 and Wii are all making substantial profits on DLC for existing games, why is the leap to digital only creating such a storm?
I believe the answer lies in cost. As consumers, we expect a physical product for the money we pay out. We also expect a moderate return on that investment; we certainly do not expect a total loss. For example, when you buy a car, it depreciates in value as soon as you hand the cash over, and will continue to do so until it plateaus several years later. You should still get some form of monetary value (cash or trade-in) for the car/pile of metal you have left when the time comes to get a new one.
With digital games, there is no ‘trade-in’ value. With physical games it is getting that way too, with Resident Evil on the 3DS only allowing one game save and the newest Batman game (Arkham City) limiting the Catwoman missions to those who buy the game new, or at an £8 price tag for those trying to save money by buying the game second-hand (although this content has been included on the disc in the “game of the year” edition).
Neither should result in a 100% loss however, but digital games only allow for use of the game by the owner that downloaded it. You cannot sell that download on for any financial gain, and as the cost of current full games on XBOX360, PS3 and PSP are all roughly the same as the copies that shops and online retailers sell the physical discs for, what would be the benefit of downloading the game, aside from the ability to play it instantly?
Another cost that may be unaccounted for is that of storage. With games easily filling DVD’s and soon Bluray’s, that calls for a lot of HDD space for someone with a large game collection (i.e. the average 30-something gamer/spoilt child). With options of 4GB Xboxes and 160GB PS3’s seems woefully insufficient if we were to take up the digital-only media route. Perhaps then cloud-based storage or game streaming (akin to the OnLive system or Steam) is more realistic?
I would miss buying games from shops, or having them delivered to my door. I would miss the smell, the joy of opening the sealed packaging, and the annoyance at getting the first scratch on the disc or the first bit of food on the manual. Conversely, I do understand the need for digital media; it makes sense in this environmentally aware world of ours to reduce packaging and delivery emissions wherever possible. If they could only make the downloadable games cheaper to compensate for the lack of packaging, I think that the uptake may be even greater.
Sony’s latest handheld, the PSVita, is bucking the trend and offering digital versions of the physical games for around 20% cheaper than the physical version. This is the first move I have seen in the right direction for any games company, and it is a trend that needs to continue.
Personally, I am for anything that stops the current stagnation of the gaming market. In the current economic situation, I can understand companies becoming less willing to branch out into anything new or untested. However, to save the planet, to save the companies, and to save the wallets of the consumers, people need to take a look at the tablet and smartphone market. Cheap apps, readily available, are making far more money for far less outlay than the average 70% rated game (by average I meant the mean, not that 70% was ‘average’).
So, what would my advice be to games companies and console manufacturers? Push the digital, but don’t fleece the consumers, or we may all have to find a cheaper hobby.
The games industry today is abuzz with talk of the next generation of gaming. With the WiiU already with us, the Playstation 4 having been announced a while ago and, by the time you read this, Microsoft being about to or having just announced the next Xbox unit, you can’t move around the gaming web [...]
Computer games, as much as any other medium, are mysterious things. They can stir our souls, hotwire our adrenaline glands or disappoint us to our core. For every person who plays a game there is a valid and varied opinion. It’s one of the things that make the subject of a game’s relative quality a [...]
Across every genre of entertainment there are specific titles or releases that become synonymous with failure, that in the eyes of fans and critics alike embody the worst that the genre has to offer. They become the universal butt of any joke in that medium, the yardstick against which every other poorly-received release is measured. [...]
Over recent years there has been a shift in the focus of the gaming industry towards online multiplayer as a gaming model. Indeed, the biggest sellers of this generation of titles have been primarily online competitive titles, such as Halo 4 & Call of Duty. Over this time there has developed a very distinct separation [...]