Respawn: Brick and Mortar and Digital Distribution
Brick and Mortar stores quit selling PC games the way they used to about a decade ago. We all remember the days where there was an entire isle of PC games, then there was half an isle, then there was an endcap, and now we’re back to half to a quarter of an isle in most department stores. The games being sold are the AAA titles, followed by Blizzard and Popcap, then of course office and OS copies. That’s about it.
We used to say that PC gaming was dying as people sold less and less boxes of games, but the industry adapted and digital distribution is now a thing. Most games from one of five or so sources. Steam, which is the juggurnaut. Good ‘ol Games, which sales games past their prime DRM free. Gamefly, Gamestop, Amazon, and Origin and similar platforms offer games sometimes cheaper than through Steam. There are also Greenmangaming and the like which are specialty stores.
Hilarious story. I spent way too much time finding a picture of stupid bricks to use in this article I decided just to take a screen cap of the Gamestop website and then make mention that they have stores you can walk into, but don't have a PC section, that's all behind the counter kinda. So yeah imagine that's a picture of some bricks, that's also royalty free.
For MMO gamers, we’ve kind of really haven’t used CDs or DVDs since WoW released really. Games like DAoC and even EQ have had online clients. Yet we’ve always talked about the exposure that B&M stores give. Walking through the isles and seeing a sexy video game character on a box fighting stuff usually grabs the attention of people, although WoW has always had its sexy grunting orcs on the cover.
Another interesting thing about the digital distribution is the DRM. DRM is big for games these days because pirates have iterated on the concept of stealing a game to the point that the only place left is required online and they’ve honestly hacked that (by just emulating the server and producing a fake server that works with the client).
However, with digital distribution platforms, they can build the DRM into the platform itself. Then again, Steam’s DRM is so circumvented at this point that it’s a non-point.
Going away from pirates, it is interesting looking at the evolution of game distribution. We’ve gone from B&M when the Internet was slow, to digital now, and then somewhat in a way back to B&M in a few roundabout ways. A lot of department stores have expanded their PC collection for the new market of casual games which obviously are marketed toward people who don’t want to install Origin to get their Sims.
Likewise, physical copies of the games are one of the biggest sales of a Kickstarter (I’m making this one up off the top of my head, but I do see a giant interest in the box copies with the maps and the neat stuff). Having something tangible for your purchase is awesome.
Then again, digital distribution also breeds the enemy of the cash shop. We’re all so comfortable now buying stuff online that we can buy IAP (in-app purchases) or mounts or XP potions or whatever nilly willy without much effort.
All of this rambling has gotten me nostalgic. I think I’ll go dust my Dreamcast off real quick and play it and remember the simpler times when we all just went to the game store and there was no DLC and no cash shops and no digital way to get anything. You put the disc in and that was that.
See you guys Wednesday with a new topic to make ya think. Xerin out.
Never forget Warhammer Online.
I still don't own a PS4 ;-;