Are Digital Downloads A Cost-Effective Game Solution?
The situation is simple: there are about twelve million games coming out between now and the end of the year, and with the slumping economy, fewer people have extra money to spend on leisure hobbies. Analysts have already talked about the "cocooning effect" - as have we - which means the economic lag won't hurt the industry (it could actually help it, really), but shouldn't we be looking at more cost-effective gaming experiences?
New games cost $60; we all know that. And we can always turn to the cheaper used games if we want to save a bit of cash, but is there a better option? Well, Wipeout HD may have dispelled several important myths and could indicate a long-term solution. First of all, it was widely believed that only small, puzzle-like titles could be turned into a digital download, but that's obviously not the case. Sony's awesome futuristic racer proves this idea incorrect, as does the fact that Burnout Paradise (with all the extra goodies) is now on the Store. Wipeout HD is a full experience from top to bottom, and it only costs $20, while Paradise goes for $30. Yeah, the latter came out back in January, but even so, you get the point. Shouldn't more digital downloads be considered for the future if these are the prices we're looking at? This isn't a matter of a few bucks; we're talking about brand new games that can cost half - or even 1/3 - of what the retail releases cost. Just think about how much can be saved if you don't have to release the game on a disc and send it to retailers around the world...
We're of the philosophy that if it can be done once, it can be done again. Wipeout HD proves that this is a viable option, but we will freely admit that it's still not reasonable for giant blockbuster titles like MGS4, GTAIV, or something like that. Still, this doesn't mean we can't get some great stuff as downloadable software, right? Just tryin' to look out for the consumer's best interests, you know.
10/9/2008 Ben Dutka