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

Digital Distribution

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 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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