Because, for some weird reason, there are lots of news pieces floating about today that are all inextricably connected with the digital distribution of games. We’re talking about full games for digital distribution, and not downloadable content, which we’ve already seen isn’t as big as one would think.
So it’s safe to say I’ve felt a great disturbance in the industry, as if millions of retailers suddenly cried out in terror, and were suddenly silenced by three separate reports by three different companies and their distribution platforms: Valve, Take-Two and Microsoft’s Xbox Live Arcade.
Valve boss Gabe Newell has piped up and reported that Steam has officially hit more than 30 million user accounts. Each year has seen the digital distribution platform increase its membership by roughly 178%, which obviously equates to a massive potential customer base for digital sales. Add to this that the platform has launched for MAC users and is currently offering more than 1200 games for Apple systems, and it’s no surprise that the company is experience colossal increases in membership.
According to James North-Hearn (CEO of Foundation 9, one of the leading Xbox Live Arcade developers) more than 30% of Xbox Live accounts actively download and pay for Xbox Live Arcade games. This, according to North-Hearn, means about 16 million active purchasers on the Xbox Live Arcade distribution service. And with more and more developers switching their focus to digital releases only (Tim Schafer’s Double Fine is one of these), you’re likely to see this number increase as time goes on. Of course, this isn’t even taking Sony’s PlayStation Network into consideration.
Take-Two boss Strauss Zelnick has also just announced that about 15% of his company’s annual turnover can be attributed to digital distribution. He predicts that by 2013 this will account for more 40% of their total turnover.
It’s inevitable that game releases will go exclusively digital and judging by the above numbers and opinions from some of the industry’s leading people, it looks as if that changeover is barrelling towards us faster than ever.
Last Updated: October 19, 2010