Over the weekend, the SixAxis posted an interesting article titled Digital Distribution: Is It The Future?. Sony, Microsoft, Apple, Nintendo, and others are already making a ton of coin off of download purchases, but Sony is taking it to a whole new level with the PSPgo.
Whilst the progression of digital downloads seems positive there’s no doubt in my mind that this won’t signify the death of high street retail. Cutting out the shops with the PSP Go is a risky move but one that is eased by the continuation of the standard PSP 3000. Committing to a download only service on a full console will amplify that risk tenfold. Regardless of the benefits, all the major players in the industry need the Games and the Argos’ for those street level sales and the ever important route to market.
For years I have purchased games, and turned around and sold the games on eBay after I was decided I was finished, decided a game was rubbish, or maybe the game sat on a shelf too long collecting dust. Digital downloads eliminate any chance for some sort of recovery, even an insignificant $5 for a really old and under played game. I suppose this is the reason why digital media is so important to the big publishers.
I do not see how consoles can go all digital. As the article points out, a whole industry would collapse. I can see micro transactions becoming increasing popular. You buy the base game, and then pay to download extras. That is sort of the best of both worlds for retail stores and the major publishers. Maybe annual subscriptions for certain games, but I do not see this as a well received option for console gamers.
I would not be that opposed to digital downloads if the prices were decent; say $9.99 for a game. Right now, PSP downloads are off the chart in terms of price, so it will be interesting to watch PSPgo sales numbers, and which PlayStation Network Store games prove to be the most popular.