Video Games

Dec 10

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.