All-Digital Shift Coming Up Fast?
It's what Netflix did to Blockbuster. It's why GameStop is currently conducting an internal study to determine how to adapt to the new market condition when digital delivery begins to take over. Analysts have said it's a good ten years off but even if that's an accurate estimate, it's not very long...and look at what has already happened.
You know, when they first started dabbling in delivering full video games digitally on the PlayStation Network and Xbox Live services, we started with the likes of Flow. That was about four years ago and now, full digital titles such as Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light and Blacklight: Tango Down prove just how far digital delivery has come; the latter isn't even very good, but the technical aspects are almost good enough to confuse it with a full $60 production. Of course, when I say "almost," it's still true that the remaining gap is noticeable. However, what they've managed to give us in a digital file over the Internet has increased drastically in terms of completeness and quality.
And that's not all. Has anyone noticed how much faster things are going? When I first got the PS3, it took about 50 minutes to download a 745MB demo for Resistance: Fall of Man. Now, I can download double that size in about 45 minutes. It's just getting faster and faster. It's why 2GB or more files don't bother me much; I remember the 1GB Heavenly Sword demo in 2007, which took 1 hour, 10 minutes; now, I can grab a gig in probably 30-35 minutes. I'm not sure if anyone has noticed this because they might not have been downloading anything off the PSN in 2006 or 2007 but trust me, I notice. I notice all the time. I know how we always say, "oh well, what about a 40GB game like MGS4." Yes, we're too far away from doing that realistically but not anywhere near as far as we once were...
I do have one question, though: as gaming gets better, won't the size of games also get bigger? Will it be a race to see how much faster we can ramp up Internet speeds before games have to take another step in size? Personally, and I've said this before, I'm very much against the digital shift because I like my physical, tangible game collection, and having a bunch of files on a screen is hardly the same thing. I also like the whole process of getting a shiny new game, box and manual and everything. Perhaps I'm a dinosaur, but whatever. The point is, I think a lot of people haven't really noticed how quickly things have advanced.
10/29/2010 Ben Dutka