Preorderable Downloads – The Future of Games

June 29th, 2010 -

Microsoft says the future media will be digital. Sony more or less agrees with this theory, as seen in the PSPGo. Obviously, the time is not right for a strictly digital system. But then again, it’s not really fair to say that when there is no incentive other than ease of doing so. Does the Go have the same library as the PSP 1000 – 3000? No, it falls short (lesser known “must have” titles for me like the Star Ocean series are not available, and the reason I bought a PSP – Crisis Core – also never made the switch to digital). Do the games cost less? No. While the PSN does conduct price drops and sales on games currently, they still don’t compare to the physical media prices. Many of the games on the PSN that go on sale are only trying to keep up with their UMD brethern which have dropped their price months prior… Is there a better quality to the game? No, unless the UMD is damaged. It seems the only real upside to going digital was not having to carry the games around. But what if the answers to the aforementioned questions were, in fact, yes? Well, let’s look at what would change and maybe… just maybe, how it’d work

Same library: This really isn’t much of something to discuss. The only thing that is probably holding this back is legality issues of rights and whatnot. That same reason is why people that purchased a PSPGo got Rockband: Unplugged with a whopping 5 songs (6 if you count Portal’s “Still Alive”) opposed to a large library of them. My guess is the games not brought over were predicted to not bring in enough revenue to make up for the fee in order to make them digital. Sad day…

Cost: This one… this is the main driving point of this whole digital media idea. As seen here, there isn’t any reason for digital releases to cost as much as retail media. The cost to release said media is reduced dramatically, and with that, the price to purchase it should also decrease. Why doesn’t it? Well, I suppose not enough people buy digital, so they need as much profit as possible. But look here…

Interestingly enough, the more a game costs, the less people buy it… yet when it costs less, more people purchase it. Let’s say when a downloadable game costs $60, the company makes a profit of $25. When a game costs $40, they make a profit of $5. Having worked in retail, I know that a game 33% off sells quite a bit more than a game at full price. I’d even venture to say that for every one game sold at $60, at least six are sold for $40. In that case, the game selling at a lower price point is turning over a larger profit.

Along these lines is the issue of “I want to play it right now.” People will preorder games and go to midnight launches to play a game as soon as humanly possible. But what if you could download a game in its entirety before the day it launches, and just have it locked until 12:01am of the release date? An obvious problem with this is people would change the internal clock on their given system to unlock it… easy solution to this is syncing the game’s availability to a different clock – perhaps the video game countdown clocks or company clock. Or an even better solution: have the game on the store for download, but in order to play it you have to download a key to unlock the game. The key wouldn’t be available until 12:01am when the store updates with it. It could work… Maybe they could even throw in their own preorder incentives available only to downloaded copies. Having the game at a cheaper pricepoint when preorderable, and then raise the pricea few dollars once it releases, perhaps?

Quality: No real way of doing this other than cutting down load times or reducing lag since all the information is internal and is not being read off another media.

I love having physical media; I own about 70 PS3 disc based releases. But that’s not to say I don’t get things on the store… no, I have 35 PSN games. Say space wasn’t an issue, and the above proposed elements were true. Would I download instead of buy in a store? More than likely, yes. Assuming DRM wasn’t ridiculous. So should companies look into this sort of thing when it comes to downloadable games? I’d think so… of course there are no doubt other issues with what I mentioned, but it’s a start.

No comments yet

Name (required)