Change and the ability to accept and adapt to changes made: it’s what separates humans from the dinosaurs.
A Guest Post by Joseph Guthrie
Sadly though, it seems there are a lot of dinosaur-like human beings roaming around the realm of technology, specifically gaming. Quite frankly, I find reading someone’s negative comments posted to a YouTube video demonstrating how the Kinect or PlayStation Move is going to be incorporated into a new game is like bearing witness to a brachiosaurus throwing a temper tantrum. However, new controls are only the tip of this evolutionary iceberg as the nucleus of the gaming evolution debate lies not with how we play but what medium the game will even play out from. I’m talking about digital distribution and, nostalgia and the potential loss of high-street jobs aside, I can’t see why people are so adamantly against making the transition on a console that has already been made. It’s kinda like listening to the people who continuously protest that the world is flat when it’s beyond any reasonable doubt that the world is round.
First, let’s talk numbers: according to the NPD Group in August last year, game sales in 2010 totaled $16 billion with digitally distributed sales surpassing that of physical copies… and this was in the United States alone. A study from Flurry Analytics showed that between Android and iOS, their game sales completely dominated Sony and Nintendo’s combined efforts. In the first half of 2010, game sales on PlayStation Network totaled $49.2 million according to research and analysis firm FADE. Meanwhile on Xbox LIVE Arcade, games are breaking sales records quite frequently. Take Minecraft and Trials Evolution, for instance; the latter [being the latest installment in the Trials series] is one of many examples of the power and reach digital distribution has, having started life as a digitally distributed PC game in Trials 2: Second Edition.
Those are just samples of raw data. It goes without saying that Valve’s Steam is a household name… well, amongst the gaming community, anyway. Lest we forget the advent and flat-out undeniable success of Apple’s App Store and iTunes; the solid platform that is Android’s Google Play (formerly known as Android Market); the surging growth of Microsoft’s Windows Live Marketplace, Zune, and it’s console entertainment hub dominance in Xbox LIVE; there truly can be no denial that resistance to digital distribution is well and truly futile and that digital releases are already the number one medium for all things software related. I haven’t even gotten started on the amount of hours logged using YouTube, Netflix, LOVEFiLM, various regional digital TV streaming services and the like are all getting on devices like your Xbox 360’s and PlayStation 3’s in the US, UK, and wherever else these services are available.
There are environmental benefits to be had as well. Theoretically speaking, less materials would mean less waste, which translates to our landfills (whose seams are already indicating they are about to burst open) having one less thing to worry about. You get all of the entertainment goodness that you’d normally get from the disc and trees around the world will rejoice at not having to be chopped down and disemboweled only to be processed into the pulp that will end eventually end up cluttering your house and your nearest landfill.
Ultimately, digital distribution is happening right now and will eventually replace all physical forms of media whether you want it to or not. To me, it’s not just our future. It’s our present and we rely on digital distribution heavily. Economics aside, it makes sense to continue using and improving a medium that we all constantly use every second of every day… and that’s no exaggeration. Physical media is getting smaller but hold more data, especially when you consider SD cards, flash drives et al. Consoles are emulating PC-esque behaviour more than ever in the seventh generation of consoles, what with direct downloads of games and films, having the ability to install games from disc to the console, and streaming everything from TV to music.
Granted, you’ll always have people who find it extremely difficult to adapt to the rapid changes that technology makes but the vast majority of us are having no issues whatsoever. Don’t get me wrong: I’m a sucker for that new game box smell but I also don’t want my daughter and the rest of her generation to inherit a planet that looks eerily similar to the Earth Mike Judge imagined in his film Idiocracy. Given the way we consume media digitally and demand more from the digital medium, it makes perfect sense to put the physical mediums to rest in the annals of history. The sooner we abandon physical media for good and lead with digital releases as standard, the better for all involved.
Of course, I wouldn’t say no to a collector’s edition every once in awhile.