Monday, June 6, 2011

Digital Download Rising

One of the clever parts of Sony's PSN winback program is that it brings people into the PSN store.  I've been there a few times to pick up Rock Band songs or activate DLC that came with games, but it never occurred to me that you could download games that ship on Blu-Ray.  Turns out that they're actually smaller than your average MMO client. On top of that, some deals are actually competitive with discs - for example, Assassin's Creed 2 is available on the PSN store for the same price I'm seeing for discs online, but the PSN version comes bundled with all the DLC.  I don't know that I'd pay extra for the DLC if I already had the disc, but the digital version is a no-brainer if it comes with extra levels for free.

Digital downloads have been bumping up against retail for a while now in the MMO-scene.  I actually picked up Rift's digital download, and probably would have picked up the day 1 Cataclysm download if the local brick and mortar store hadn't offered a promo that beat Blizzard's price.  Last week we heard that EA is cutting out the digital middle-man for SWTOR, by reserving the game's download version for their own new download service.  I'm not sure what to make of this move, but I'll concede that I'm not sure what Direct Download contributed to my Rift download other than undercutting Trion's own price by 20%. 

I don't think we're going to see console games disappearing from stores the way that PC games have for years now anytime soon, but it certainly looks like the technology and the bandwidth are starting to catch up with the financial incentives - fewer middlemen and the ability to completely cut off resales - for this to happen. 

2 comments:

Syl said...

It's definitely on the horizon; I think MS especially have been pushing forward towards this with XBOX live and all the downloads and features they already offer there. it will take some time to shift entirely to sub-based gaming on the console, but I'm convinced it will happen.

On a personal level, I welcome it - it's convenient and it saves space. I care little for package and booklets these days.
but there's a very problematic side to it too, economically speaking, cutting out all the 'middle men' such as traders, retailers, shop and factory workers seems a high price to pay just to avoid re-selling. so I'm rather torn on this one - but then you could say that it's already happening ever since online shops, anyway.

Indy said...

I bought the digital download for Cataclysm, primarily for two reasons. It was more convenient -- I didn't have to run out to a midnight sale early and wait in line, and I was able to lie down and rest a bit before the launch instead. The other reason was that I wanted to try for a server first title (which I missed getting by one minute; unfortunately, it took me a couple minutes to log back on when the servers had Cataclysm activated). The digital download meant I didn't have to install the expansion from DVD that night, but I'd be ready to go.