"The idea of full downloadable games is so far in the future that it's almost incomprehensible as an opportunity," said Bobby Kotick, chief executive of Activision. -- The New York Times
Short discussion: Wrong!
Longer discussion: Kotick apparently does not know of newer streaming technologies that allow for large games to be played well before fully transferred to the user's platform. This is the single technology breakthrough that makes large game downloads a viable option for gamers.
And once players, press and CEOs like Kotick experience this technology, they will all wake up to the fact that digital delivery is on the verge of an explosive acceleration of acceptance, much as CD-ROMs exploded in popularity a dozen years ago.
Valve's Steam, as an example, is NOT representative of the next generation of digital distribution that will change the way software is sold and delivered. A much better example is Triton, the digital deliver service that Prey will use. When player's buy Prey from Triton, they need to only download around 20 percent of the game before they can begin playing the game. This takes about 20-25 minutes or so, a very reasonable period to wait before playing a content heavy, triple-A title.
Digital delivery simply has too many advantages for publishers to ignore:
o Immediate revenue stream. No more waiting to be paid by the retailers, who make money on the float, the period of time they have the publisher's money sitting in their accounts earning interest, at the publisher's expense.
o Higher wholesale. This means that the publisher makes more money per game sold, because digital delivery is inherently less expensive because there are no cost-of-goods (no game box and manual).
o No chance of rentals (until the publisher decides it's okay, like after a three month window).
o No chance of resells, an after-market that is killing publishers and developers alike.
o Less chance of piracy.
There are other advantages, too, but I'll save those for discussion after Prey is released via Triton, that way I can point them out specifically using a real world example.
The bottom-line, though, is that publisher CEOs like Kotick, who are likely unaware of the advanced state of coming next-generation digital delivery services like Triton, are about to be blind-sided by a wave that will either sweep them aside--or more likely they will whip out their surfboards and join our industry's Next Big Thing.