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Feature: 'Question of the Week Responses: Digital Game Distribution'

Today's Gamasutra feature article presents the answers to the latest Question Of The Week: "Are digital downloads going to become the predominant way of purchasing and pl...

Simon Carless, Blogger

June 21, 2005

2 Min Read

Today's Gamasutra feature article presents the answers to the latest Question Of The Week: "Are digital downloads going to become the predominant way of purchasing and playing PC or console game content in the future, or will physical game copies continue to be the conventional distribution method?" The consensus of the responses we received indicated a marked interest in the potential of digital distribution, with one of the more interesting replies coming from BioWare's Rob Bartel: "For the foreseeable future, conventional “bricks & mortar” distribution will continue to drive the fragmented PC market, where the local Electronics Boutique is the closest you can come to a unified games portal. The shift to digital distribution will be more pronounced for expansion packs and other ancillary content where the website of the original game's developer or publisher, if properly managed, can become a logical unified portal for the intended market. In the console market, unified portals are inherent. Coupled with the inherent online capabilities of the next-gen systems, this makes a very persuasive argument for a significant digital shift on the console side of the equation. The primary lesson that will be learned from the upcoming generation of consoles is that the lucrative digital distribution of demos, rentals, and fully owned titles is now limited primarily by the storage media. The shift to digital distribution is coming to all platforms and we now find ourselves at the start of that lengthy transition. It will be complete within a decade. The big players in the Digital Distribution Era will be those who own the unified portals that will serve as the digital marketplace and those who own the big-budget games that will serve as development platforms and delivery mechanisms for future content. That said, new opportunities will open up at the micro-studio level where small teams, both casual and professional, 1st-party and 3rd-party, will be able to develop, market, and sell compelling gameplay and new intellectual properties within the frameworks created and supported by the larger players. -Rob Bartel, BioWare" You can now read the full Gamasutra feature on the subject, including many more responses from game professionals (no registration required, please feel free to link to the article from external websites).

About the Author(s)

Simon Carless


Simon Carless is the founder of the GameDiscoverCo agency and creator of the popular GameDiscoverCo game discoverability newsletter. He consults with a number of PC/console publishers and developers, and was previously most known for his role helping to shape the Independent Games Festival and Game Developers Conference for many years.

He is also an investor and advisor to UK indie game publisher No More Robots (Descenders, Hypnospace Outlaw), a previous publisher and editor-in-chief at both Gamasutra and Game Developer magazine, and sits on the board of the Video Game History Foundation.

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