Game Downloads: The Next Step in Console Gaming?

Preface: I just wanted to put some thoughts out on Edge Magazine’s article “Thinking Outside The Box” (found in their December issue) talking about how console game creators  are developing  more down-loadable  games vs. going through traditional channels. It’s been a topic that’s been on my mind for the past few weeks and now that I have the chance I’d like to put some thoughts on paper.  So here goes!

Like creating the next big blockbuster movie console based  video games take a lot of time and resources to make and have no guarantees in being successful. With consoles being more wired to the Internet the opportunity to sell down-loadable games has both large and small studios looking into ditching the disc and selling their content through the console itself.

Cutting out the “middle man”

The largest blockbuster games today (those that sell 1 million +copies) take years to make and millions of dollars to develop and market. For a long time, the success of these games  has shut smaller development studios out as publishers (those who package, distribute and do the marketing for games) look to sell high volume selling titles to see higher margins on their investments. Ever notice that much like the movie industry, the gaming industry is getting sequelitis?  This is the primary reason!

With game downloads, the publisher isn’t needed to distribute or package the game. Console download systems such as XBLA and PSN essentially cut out the middle man putting game studios in closer contact with gamers. This is great in that it allows more industry players to join in and sell smaller and less costly games. It could help to spur further innovation and creativity with creators trying to do more with less. Looking at the other side have you also seen Apple app store lately?  If gamers get more choice, this also means that games are competing for their spot on the list, perhaps fighting the same small studio vs. Big studio battle again (with exception of breakout hits which I may discuss this later).

The future?

Developing game media technology ( cartridges, game discs etc.) presents a cost to console developers, one that if they could do away with could let them focus on developing new ways for you to interact with your console and  to create more effective console hardware. Could this happen in the next generation of gaming? My (while amateurish) call would be no. Things like Internet bandwidth caps and the issue of piracy are still two big issues that need to be grappled with. Changing an industry model doesn’t necessarily happen overnight as well.  Big studios still enjoy a big lead and  currently have a strong formula of getting  games out to the masses through traditional retail outlets. Changing how these games are sold and packaged will definitely be a big step, one that’s going to need a lot more work.

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One comment

  1. To start off, I loved the base game of Fallout 3, I got it when it first came out, and sure it had its fair share of problems, but it was still great.And so the story ctoninues with 5 new DLC’s, which add new items and locations to your already large choosings.But alas, this game feels as though little to no testing was done in the game. It is plagued with glitches, frame rate issues, lag issues, freezing issues, amongst other annoying problems I hadn’t experienced in my initial Fallout 3 experience. I believe that the game froze my PS3 at least 15 times across all 5 DLC’s, this also included exploring some areas from the the original copy. These problems occur often, inspiring a new found hatred for the game. To be short, the problems are terrible, annoying, and large in number. But despite its problems, the game does manage to do a lot of things right:1) You can use you saves from the original copy if you still have them!2) New weapons and items are (mostly) very useful and powerful3) Point Lookup ctoninues the game’s-experience with many side-quests and sandbox gameplay4) The level cap is raised to level 30.5) The game can now continue after the main-quests are over!6) You can find a lot more ammo for the Alien Blaster!7) The quests from the DLC (while they are nothing special) add a few more hours of gameplay $110 worth of games for $60 is a great deal!The DLC’s are solid, but are not great. They feel like the main game’s side quests to me, as they feel unimportant, but the rewards are worth playing for. My favorite weapons and apparel are from the DLC including: Winterized Power Armor, Tesla Cannon, Gauss Rifle, Samurai Armor, Samurai sword, Auto-axe/ Manopener, infiltrator/perforator, tribeam laser rifle, double barreled shotgun, level-action rifle, Alien Disintegrator I would have like to have seen more length and depth to each DLC, as no single DLC took more than 3 hours to complete (with the exception of Point Lookout’s side quests and exploration)I’d be hesitant to recommend this to anyone but hardcore Bethsda and Fallout fans, until a patch comes out that if not eliminates the problems, at least minimizes them.

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