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Default IGN - PC Previews 2008

January 19th, 2008, 18:48
Since the steam is leaking out of the Best of 2007 coverage, a lot of the larger gaming sites are doing previews of this year's upcoming games, including IGN. This one includes all genres, but the link is to the Role Playing category, which covers three games: Bethsoft's Fallout 3, Codemasters' Rise of the Argonauts, and Gas Powered Games' Space Seige. The descriptions are pretty generic and too brief to merit a quote, but the article ends with some predictions that might be worth a look:
Foreign Developers Dominate US PC Market
Over the last ten years we've seen more and more foreign developers gain a real presence here in the US gaming market…. As the talent pool expands around the world, we're seeing more and more foreign PC games scoring huge successes in the US market.
Given that so many of the top tier PC developers here in the United States are moving towards the console as their lead (and sometimes only) platform for development, that leaves lots of room for the less-console focused developers in the rest of the world a chance to step in and pick up the slack..


PC Games Disappear from Shelves
Okay, maybe we're overstating this one just a little but, but digital distribution is here to stay and it's going to have a significant impact on the presence of PC games in traditional enthusiast shops. We've already seen the shelf space for PC games shrink substantially over the last few years and the success of services like Steam and Direct2Drive are going to make traditional retail boxes a bit of anachronism. There are still some old-timers who are attached to the quaint notion of actually wanting a physical product in their hands in exchange for their fifty bucks, but they're becoming a rare breed indeed.

…When you factor in the costs of producing packaging, shipping and paying for retail space and promotion and balance that against the costs of handling that same transaction over the internet, it's easy to see why so many publishers, both large and small, are relying primarily on digital distribution these days.

Fallout 3 Pushed to Early 2009
…Bethesda has a proven track record of delaying games past their originally announced released dates, the most recent example being The Elder Scrolls IV being pushed from 2005 to March of 2006. It happened with Morrowind too, moving from a late 2001 window to May of 2002. We're certainly hopeful it doesn't happen with Fallout 3 because, well, we're very much looking forward to playing another Fallout game, even if it's a far cry from the hex-based original. Please prove us wrong, Bethesda.


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January 19th, 2008, 18:48
I hope PC games don't disappear from the shelves. I love the bargain bins. Just today, I found both Horde of the Underdark and Shadows of the Undertide for 3 euro each. I feel depressed about not buying them (too many other games lying around unfinished). With digital distribution, I see opportunities for publishers to keep the price up instead of having a retailer slash its prices to get rid of titles that aren't selling.

Plus, it's much more fun to find a classic in a brick-and-mortar store than in some kind of menu on the internet.
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January 19th, 2008, 19:17
I think the NWN's proved the validity of boxed games and that Direct Download is still something for the future. Atari's pickup of the Premium Mods as discs then bundling it into another Diamond edition is sort of like CanCon proving that a song is a hit in Canada shows that its marketable in the US. And it can make a lot more money albeit 6 months later.

If MMORPG's and Half Life 2 still use store bought CD's even though they are primarily Web Based games/authenticated then buying games online is still a thing far in the future IMO.

Blockbuster was convinced that Satellite Dishes would kill their market but they never did. It took Netflix of all things to finally hurt them. Amazon didn't make a profit for years and some of their profits lately IMO are pretty suspect.

Don't discount human nature's instinct forage is what I am trying to say. Otherwise brick and mortar shopping would be a thing of the past entirely.

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January 19th, 2008, 19:27
I thought all the predictions were festooned with a bit of hyperbole and overstatement, and I agree that Digital Distribution is far from wiping out the brick and mortar guys in the space of 2008. I do think it's possible we may eventually lose the smaller pc marketplaces though and only have bargain bins in big all purpose retailers like Target.

I also hope they're right about foreign developers getting their product more into the limelight, as most of them are still focused on the pc as their primary market. Some of these games aren't four star, but with a greater number of them and more support the odds of getting better games goes up.

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January 19th, 2008, 19:47
Originally Posted by magerette View Post
I also hope they're right about foreign developers getting their product more into the limelight, as most of them are still focused on the pc as their primary market. Some of these games aren't four star, but with a greater number of them and more support the odds of getting better games goes up.
1C and Cd Projeckt Red have impressed me a lot. I agree with you and hope that there are more foreign competition in the market. It might force the US companies to come up with some original ideas instead of making their products dumbed down for the masses.

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January 19th, 2008, 21:01
PC Games Disappear from Shelves
Okay, maybe we're overstating this one just a little but, but digital distribution is here to stay and it's going to have a significant impact on the presence of PC games in traditional enthusiast shops. We've already seen the shelf space for PC games shrink substantially over the last few years and the success of services like Steam and Direct2Drive are going to make traditional retail boxes a bit of anachronism. There are still some old-timers who are attached to the quaint notion of actually wanting a physical product in their hands in exchange for their fifty bucks, but they're becoming a rare breed indeed.
I think this is a case of wishful thinking… after all, IGN is hardly without a prior interest in the digital download market.

While shelf space in shops may have shrunk for PC games, at least here in the UK I am sure a large part of the reason for that is the rise of online games stores that reside in the tax-haven that is Guernsey. Play.com, for example, offers games far cheaper than either physical stores or downloads (which tend to always be priced at the full retail value, or very close to). They even post games so they arrive at my house on release day - no need to go and get the game, or wait for the download. There are of course plenty of others to choose from who offer similarly cheap and convenient online purchases of physical media.

I go the sources that give me the best value for money - and that means a physical product in my hands sometimes even before release day if I'm lucky. Digital downloads gain me nothing and lose me a lot more in the process.

Take The Orange Box for example - picked that up for 17.99 (approx $35). It's still $49.99 on steam even now. Why pay more?
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January 20th, 2008, 01:29
Because I value my time more than $15?

Anyway, PC games will eventually fade more or less entirely from retail. Retail stores have fixed space and the return per square metre demands that space is used for product that provides an appropriate return. Buying NWN (or whatever) for $3 usually means that merchandise didn't sell and the retailer has taken a bath on the write-down. Of course, that isn't limited to PC games but it's the category most in danger.

Digital distribution is a good thing because it ensures the survival of the genre - it will just take a while before that all falls into place on both sides of the market.

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January 20th, 2008, 07:01
There are still some old-timers who are attached to the quaint notion of actually wanting a physical product in their hands in exchange for their fifty bucks, but they're becoming a rare breed indeed.
Old timers? Quaint? Rare breed? Sheesh…

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January 20th, 2008, 11:48
Originally Posted by Dhruin View Post
Because I value my time more than $15?
It takes me less time, usually, to locate and order a particular product via an online store than it would to locate the appropriate digital download - that may be because I don't tend to use DD's much, but at best I would see this getting to a point where both take as much time as the other.

Digital distribution is a good thing because it ensures the survival of the genre - it will just take a while before that all falls into place on both sides of the market.
I never said it was a bad thing… it's just something that, at present, gains me nothing - neither time nor money. For DD to truly take off we, the customer, need to see some of those famed savings that the seller makes by cutting out the physical media and distribution costs.

As for retail in a physical store sense, I suspect some outlet will still prove advantageous, even if dedicated game stores either have to diversify or games end up only in larger outlets. And if they're worried about PC games they should be more worried about consoles - the chances of the next generation or two moving to digital distribution are very strong…. the current generation are almost there as it is and their online downloads are getting very popular. This isn't something that's going to be restricted to PCs.
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January 20th, 2008, 12:38
Yes, consoles will move to DD as well. You asked "why pay more?" and I'm responding that there are different points of view.

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January 20th, 2008, 16:18
It (the DD discussion) is the same thing as editorials going around right now saying 'who cares who wins between Blu-Ray and HD-DVD' …

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January 20th, 2008, 21:20
The one thing that I am left to ponder for myself after reading this is "Since when is Space Siege thought of as an RPG?" but I guess that is the million dollar question …
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January 21st, 2008, 15:11
Digital distribution won't take over the market until it actually becomes a good deal. If you compare the prices on sources like Steam or Direct-2-Drive, they are always higher or the same as prices from just about every other source out there (such as brick and mortar or ebay).
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January 21st, 2008, 16:16
Originally Posted by doctor_kaz View Post
Digital distribution won't take over the market until it actually becomes a good deal. If you compare the prices on sources like Steam or Direct-2-Drive, they are always higher or the same as prices from just about every other source out there (such as brick and mortar or ebay).
Given that the top selling games of last year were things that sold at full price - Halo 3, Wii Play, Call of Duty 4, etc - I would say that on a large scale price has very little to do with it.

I think that a big problem is bandwidth. I downloaded Baldur's Gate on GameTap yesterday and it took f-o-r-e-v-e-r … well, at 1.25GB it took long enough that I couldn't 'play it now'. So until there is a system that allows 'play while downloading', this won't approach reality.

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January 21st, 2008, 16:40
Price probably doesn't matter from game to game, but it probably matters for who gets the sale. Most of the games on Gametap, like Civilization IV or the latest Tomb Raider game, are old games that can already be found for a lot lower price than what's offered on line. Why would I buy a new game off of Gametap when I can get it cheaper on gogamer.com or ebay, and also own a physical copy that I can resell?
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January 21st, 2008, 21:24
I'll leave aside that not everyone is interested in physical media or reselling. Believe it or not, some of us are that batshit crazy we buy from DD for convenience (and sometimes, it is cheaper). Insane, I know, but I wish people would stop asking why anyone wouldn't do the same things they do, as if the alternative was idiocy beyond compare.

Prices are (often - but not always) higher with DD because retail just won't allow competition direct from the publisher at a lower price. When retail's share diminishes to a point they no longer have that power, things will shift. When retail no longer actually carries a lot of the (PC) titles you are interested in, you'll turn to DD.

Mike is right that bandwidth is a problem.

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January 21st, 2008, 22:06
Originally Posted by Dhruin View Post
I'll leave aside that not everyone is interested in physical media or reselling. Believe it or not, some of us are that batshit crazy we buy from DD for convenience (and sometimes, it is cheaper). Insane, I know, but I wish people would stop asking why anyone wouldn't do the same things they do, as if the alternative was idiocy beyond compare.
Hey I'm with you there but I'm not the one claiming that one mode of distribution should completely die off. I'd be perfectly happy with both methods remaining viable, but I don't want to see physical media disappear any time soon. There are a lot of people who would like to see that happen.
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January 21st, 2008, 22:15
Originally Posted by doctor_kaz View Post
I don't want to see physical media disappear any time soon. There are a lot of people who would like to see that happen.
I don't know it is that we WANT it to happen, but in the US right now (and apparently more and more elsewhere) PC games are being squeezed out of shelf space and not being made available in a timely fashion, meaning that getting those games has started to involve inline sources - either DD or online orders of physical media.

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