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Digital Distribution is Scary for Gamers

by Joey Davidson | February 20, 2011February 20, 2011 3:00 pm EST

steam-logo-digital-distribution can take bigger chances on less likely games thanks to downloadable content as the risk versus reward works in their favor. Publishers can gamble, and that spells innovation.

Beyond those two points, however, digital distribution sucks.

Consumers have no control over pricing. You can’t select retail outlets based on affordability and customer service. You can’t head to Amazon, Walmart, Target, TRU or elsewhere to find that sweet, special price. Instead, you have to go with the single marketplace available to you, and you have to pay the price they provide. DLC is restricted to a given marketplace, and that spells problems for consumers.

Furthermore, there’s no used game market. Yes, for pubs and devs, used games suck. They make companies no money whatsoever, and each used sale is one less potential new customer. But for consumers? Used games are great! Low prices for older titles; users can hit classifieds, Amazon, eBay or other used marketplaces and totally run off with tons of goods for low prices. Digital distribution could suck a lot of fun out of garage sales.


How about pricing? A perfect example of the wholly inappropriate usage of digital distribution: Microsoft just listed Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 on Xbox LIVE for $59.99. Seriously. The game is more than a year old and they’re asking for full price. Then there are games like Borderlands that have been out for just as long as Modern Warfare 2, they’re $20. Why? Because Microsoft, for example, is in complete control of their own pricing.

Right now gamers can take solace in the fact that they can head to their local stores to pick up used and new games at competitive prices. If digital distribution becomes the norm, an outcome that the industry is slowly heading towards, hitting retail shops for deep discounts is going to be a thing of the past. We’ll be stuck with whatever prices and inventory a single marketplace lists. We’ll be in big touble.

I’ll sacrifice convenience for competitive pricing any day of the week; even if it means the death of digital distribution.

Joey Davidson

Joey Davidson leads the gaming department here on TechnoBuffalo. He's been covering games online for more than 10 years, and he's a lover of all...