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Are All Games Headed for Digital Distribution? Thank Mass Effect 2!

digital distribution Are All Games Headed for Digital Distribution?  Thank Mass Effect 2!

As we enter 2011, we’re beginning to see a pattern of video game digital distributions and stores like GameStop are becoming less pivotal as merchants.  The road to digital distribution has started and we the customers have an efficient choice.  Physical discs can slow down gaming.  For one, with a physical disc you’ll constantly worry about; damaging your disc, losing your disc or the dreaded lending your disc.  But with digital distribution, all that goes away.  Another factor for digital distribution includes playing the game you’ve waited all year to play on launch day.  Did I also mention saying goodbye to midnight releases.

EA has begun the wave by simultaneously releasing their Sci-Fi RPG, Mass Effect 2 on disc and via the PSN as a digital download.  Mass Effect 2 is the largest PSN title weighing in at 12 GB.  What I find fascinating is the size of the game and the confidence Sony has in releasing such a large sized game.  I know most user’s have high-speed internet these days, so will Mass Effect 2 set the new standard of digital distribution?

mass effect2 screenshot Are All Games Headed for Digital Distribution?  Thank Mass Effect 2!

I for one applause this effort and wish more disc-based titles were available digitally.  Convenience to a gamer can be key.  If more games sat on a hard drive instead of a disc, more people would own more games for simplicity.  I also believe games previously played/owned would be played more often because of convenience.  Now I’ve never limited myself from purchasing a game because of some ‘Special Edition’ bulky packaging or lack of shelf space in my gaming cabinet, but have others?

There’s reason to believe gaming consoles are increasing their storage in an effort to house more data locally.  If you were an original PS3 owner and boasted a 20 GB console, Mass Effect 2 would eat up more than half of your disc space.  And those with an Arcade Xbox 360, pfff.  But we now  know console manufacturer’s are increasing their disk space.  PS3′s are topping their storage at 320 GB and the Xbox Elite at 250 GB.

When push comes to shove, Digital Distribution is the way to go.  Accessibility of your gaming library will win most of the time.  Sure, owning a disc has some perks too.  For instance, you may like lending your games to friends or want the option for trading some of the suckier games for credit.  But what if Digital Distribution came in at a lower price?  For example, if Mass Effect 2 was sold in stores for $59.99 but was available digitally for $49.99 would you bite?  Which brings my next question.  Why are digital games the same price.  The overhead for producing a physical disc must be higher.  Could convenience weigh in as a factor for the similarities in price?

I’d like to know how you feel about the future of gaming.  There’ll always be pros and cons but are we nostalgic?  As technology changes, so should gaming.  For the old school gamer out ther, who know maybe they’ll allow digital “lending”.  A process that will allow you to transfer your purchased game to a friend.  That’ll stop some of those ‘lost game’ stories.

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13 comments

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  1. Jason Shepard

    You’ve forgotten a few key points when it comes to digital distribution of 360 titles vs digital distribution of ps3 titles. For starters, with your 360, you can only download games once per purchase and must access the profile it was downloaded to. If your hard drive ever gets damaged, you’re out of luck and must repurchase all content. With anything you purchase off of the playstation network, you have an infinite amount of times which you can download said item. This is especially handy in case you ever get a new system and need to download all your titles again (free of cost). Another factor to point out is the fact that ps3 allows game sharing. You can activate your account and download ALL your purchases from said account on up to FIVE different playstations. This is a very handy method and if you and 4 friends (people you trust) want to split the cost of games you can purchase it and distribute it to each system. So for Mass Effect 2 for example, you could just split the cost with 4 friends, allowing everyone to download the game and only pay 12.50 for it. Much cheaper than one 60 dollar disk that one day will break.

  2. Shawn

    Some falsehoods here. For Xbox Live, your user name permanently owns that game. I redownloaded my purchases when I upgraded to the 360 slim. I seriously doubt u can do multiple redistributions of downloaded content with PS3.

  3. Kezins

    @Jason: You don’t need to repurchase content if your hard drive or system gets damaged with a 360. I’m on my 4th 360 and have had no trouble re-downloading games I have purchased. While you can share games on PSN, I’m sure they will lock down certain games from sharing.

    As far as digital downloads go, I’m glad that they will eventually take down crooks like GameStop, but I’ll miss being able to rent games. I’m not sure when they are going to go all digital, but I’m sure it’s coming.

  4. scott

    You must remember that the company has to keep servers up for game downloads and keep them running which could cost the same as producing discs. Once there is a better way to distribute, then the price for downloading will probably come down. Will the government eventually come into play here and offer tax exemptions to companies if they sell more games by download? maybe, maybe not. Afterall, no disc means a greener environment and more space in your house.

  5. Jason Shepard

    Sorry about the xbox live confusion, thanks for letting me know that you actually can re download any game purchased by your user name.

    But the playstation network is still the superior choice for digital distribution. You CAN do mulitiple redistributions of download content on up to 5 ps3 systems connected to your main user account. You don’t even have to play the games on the profile that downloaded them. As long as the account that paid for the games is on a system, any of the other user profiles on that system can also use the downloaded content. But again, the master account that purchased it must remain on the hard drive, if its deleted, the games are rendered unusable.

    SO, that being said, one person can download games such as Warhawk or MAG even, which are both online only multiplayer games, and let 4 of thier friends download the game as well. All you have to do is let your friends have your user name and password for a minute (MAKE SURE YOU TRUST THEM) then they log in as you, download it to thier ps3, and sign back in as themselves. Now all 5 of you can play online at the same time using your own playstation ids.

    XBOX CAN’T HOLD A FLAME TO THAT!!!! Also, there are no “limits” as to what type of games this applies to, it works on ALL GAMES DOWNLOADED FROM THE PLAYSTATION STORE.

    INCLUDING MASS EFFECT 2!

  6. mrjuandrful

    @scott
    Great point of view. Most companies will get goverment benefits for going green and this may indeed be one way of doing that. Nice pick up Scott!

  7. mrjuandrful

    Shawn :

    Some falsehoods here. For Xbox Live, your user name permanently owns that game. I redownloaded my purchases when I upgraded to the 360 slim. I seriously doubt u can do multiple redistributions of downloaded content with PS3.

    The mysteries of the PS3 actually allow you to. I’m sure Sony knows but hasn’t done anything about it.

  8. Jason Shepard

    Oh yeah, by the way, Sony’s method of sharing games on 5 seperate playstations via one purchase is not only LEGAL, its actually encouraged by sony. Sony for the win.

  9. Jack

    Jason Shepard :Oh yeah, by the way, Sony’s method of sharing games on 5 seperate playstations via one purchase is not only LEGAL, its actually encouraged by sony. Sony for the win.

    It is legal ONLY if you have 5 consoles in your household. It is not legal to share games with your friends, and for sure it is not legal to create fake PSN account to share games. By illigal I mean that it violates PSN regulations – you will not go to jail for doing it, but you can be banned from PSN.

  10. Kezins

    There’s nothing illegal about game sharing. Sony has already addressed this.

  11. Jason Shepard

    Jack :

    Jason Shepard :Oh yeah, by the way, Sony’s method of sharing games on 5 seperate playstations via one purchase is not only LEGAL, its actually encouraged by sony. Sony for the win.

    It is legal ONLY if you have 5 consoles in your household. It is not legal to share games with your friends, and for sure it is not legal to create fake PSN account to share games. By illigal I mean that it violates PSN regulations – you will not go to jail for doing it, but you can be banned from PSN.

    That is wrong. Sony’s method of game sharing is 100% legal, and again, even encouraged by the company. You can share your games with relatives and friends, just up to 5 shares (yourself included). You do NOT have to be in the same household or country for that matter, just has to have the playstation user profile on the system’s hard disk. It won’t get you banned by creating an account specifically for gamesharing either, as again, there is nothing wrong with it, you have up to 5 shares to do with whatever you’d like. Do your homework first before arguing about legalities please.

  12. Kezins

    Sony encourages game sharing. Here’s what Jack Tretton had to say about it when it first became an issue:

    “You can send that content to four other friends for that initial investment. We want to get the game in as many hands as possible. It’s not about generating profits at each and every interaction with the consumer. I think that really offsets the argument that says, ‘Wow, that’s a really pricey system.”

    The CEO of SCEA wouldn’t have said that if they were against game sharing. There’s also no such thing as a “fake” PSN account. You can create as many accounts as you like as long as you have enough email addresses to do it.

  13. BK

    Honestly I agree with the guy who said PSN is better for digital distribution. You get full retail games (not always released day and date and for some reason many games I would love are missing, but that’s the same thing that’s happening not only with PS3 games but PSP, PSOne, and PS2 games), PS2 Classics, PSOne Classics, PSN exclusive games, PSP games, PSVita games. The real kicker though, the thing that makes PSN superior to Xbox Live is the fact you can get a full game bundled with DLC. Or just a dlc bundle, or multiple games bundled together. In other words, game bundles. Although I’m gonna say this, where are all my Japanese RPGs on PSN? Only thing about PSN DD that kinda ticks me off. Also waiting for games that Europe and Japan get… that always sucks.

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