Has the boxed game had its day?

Has the boxed game had its day?

Last week’s high profile launch of Halo: Reach, and the stories of gamers camping outside retailers' doors, tell me that game launches have become just like movie premieres and create just as much excitement as the launch of new Apple gadgets.  

Did any of you catch a glimpse of the stats published by Bungie Software? Looks like gamers haven’t been disappointed with their new purchases. Over 1,300 man-years have been spent playing it already – hopefully it hasn’t created the same number of relationship break-downs! I wonder how many of them are unemployed...

Reading all of these stories has got me thinking about boxed games. Is the boxed game genre running out of steam? I came across an interesting bit of research published by NPD Group. It basically says that downloads – particularly for PCs – are catching up with boxed games: 43% of PC games were sold online in the first six months of this year.

Me thinks this trend is going to continue and the shift from boxed products to online games will accelerate. Which means that we will see a lot more of these high profile launches – and I hope this means that we'll also see lots more creativity from game developers!  The students who started our new games course on Monday will build their careers in this environment. I am going to enjoy talking to them about this and their views on what it will mean for their work.

How do you think downloads will impact the work of the games artist? Drop me a line and let me know what you think.

2 Comments Lee Danskin

Posted by
Lee Danskin
Wed 29 Sep 2010: 1:00pm

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Comments

  • Lee Danskin:

    Anton, from all perspectives the digital distribution rubicon is something we'll all be crossing. iTunes seemingly has the music industry valves steam, and the impending digital delivery of films are here and about, hence the huge battle for the living room.... Device of choice or will we just stream everything? As for the Onlive idea of games on demand, my word is that it's getting a little messy out there in digital land.

  • Anton Smit:

    Hi Lee,

    A good topic - it's been at the back of my mind for some time now - been mulling it over. As a cross platform gamer (PC/PS3/360) and friends who share a gaming passion across the rest of the gamers choice of consoles - I've been present from days of tapes for my zx spectrum, cartridges for my intellivision/(s)nes/ and all along the long line of consoles to what we see in homes today.

    Today it's the battle of microsoft dvd game releases and the limits they include in space, the hard drive included or add on purchased VS the ps3 with built in HD which is easy to upgrade to any compatible laptop HD that will fit giving you massive hard drive space for a fraction of the xbox's cost. Plus the built in bluray player giving you a massive platter of space to store the games on.

    Now before all start flaming anti xbox fan at me - as I said before I own both - and love and hate both for various reasons. I just think the PS3 was built with future proofing in mind - the Xbox - was more of the Frankenbeast compiled as they went along (here's looking at you external HD-dvd drive :) )

    Now back to the point at hand - as you mentioned Lee - the PC is the forerunner in the field of digital distribution - for various reasons this was a great step forward - pc gaming piracy was killing the platform as a choice for developers. The xbox and ps3 offered saver grounds to develop on. Then the 360 fell to hacks and now a 10yr old can softmod their xbox - download their game of choice and off they go - drawbacks do include no more online play (yes yes I know it's possible but you always run the risk of being caught out and block from their Live service). Sony took preemptive steps to protect their product (good bye Yellow Dog! (that's linux support on the PS3)) to make sure they remain safe. But sony also still have a ace up their sleeve - even if hacked - how many people own a blu ray burner - not many i assume.

    Now this might sound like a piracy war rant - but this is the reason digital distribution will help. reasons for piracy include region releases - exclusive titles to the Japan market which you would never see in a store now becomes available. Or the long wait in difference between the US and EU release date has caused many a gamer to ponder the possibilities to just download said game.

    So here comes digital distribution - no more "the games gone gold" and now off to the printing press we go to copy the game to a million siblings that can easily be scooped up and leaked on to the web. Developers can now publish their games straight to the client - digital dealers - who can control the price on every web market space.

    Yay! thinks the gamer - surely the developers can now drop the price of launch titles because less costs in production = less cost to gamers? no? sadly - no. games released digitally by top developers still suffer from over priced digital distribution costs. i dont know if this is because they've copied the film industry's distribution model or what.

    here's my last digital purchase experience - Starcraft 2 - a very eagerly awaited game by millions - digital distribution cost: £45 (straight from the developer) - instore £35 to £45 - online store £30 to £35.

    I guess this means that digital distribution will go through it's teething problems - but i hope that eventually a gamer will purchase a game on the day of release - download the game straight the harddrive and play while the console is still downloading the later stages of the game.

    i say the move towards digital distribution is a positive one - but there are still many hurdles to cross.

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