Now that the dust is starting to settle on the Xbox One and the mob is slowly dispersing, I think it’s a good time to start a calmer and more rational look on the future of gaming and why it is that gamers are not ready for a fully digital age.
Most of us have experienced the ebb and flow of the gaming industry. We saw the coming of the arcade age and then watched it’s slow demise with the Nintendo age. We saw the beginning of the console wars with the SNES and Sega. We saw the progression of Co-op to Multiplayer to Massive Online games. We saw companies come, compete and lose.
We came from floppy, to cartridge, to CDs and now the digital age.
Although I stand on the side of Sony in this new war, I understand why Microsoft did what they did. Gamers have shown an interest in the digital medium with Steam and Indie Game downloads. It only made sense for them to take this to the next level. But ultimately, they forgot one very important fact.
Gaming is an evolution, not a revolution.
Gamers change as the need presents itself. We go where the graphics kick ass, the game play gets better and we get more adventure per dollar.
Convenience. Gamers in the 80s were willing to stand in line with sweaty handfuls of quarters to experience the latest Arcade game but when the cartridge came along, the arcades dried up and the flickering seven foot decorated quarter machines became nostalgia. The 90s kids version of the 50s kid muscle car.
So now we’re at another crossing point. Now we see the slow demise of yet another brick and mortar gaming place… The Game Store.
We rail against the DRM and the Always Online features that Xbox One wanted to force on us but the inevitable truth is it will eventually happen. Not today, not two years from now, but eventually, the Gamestops and the Media Markets will fade along with the Game Disk.
As game publishers offer cheaper prices for digital game copies and larger incentives to purchasing your games online, the used game markets will shrivel. Why wait to buy a used game disk for 30 dollars when you can download your own copy at release for the same price?
Xbox One wanted to control every aspect of digital sales, afraid to allow digital copies of their games to go public without some restrictions. They were afraid that hackers and rogue programmers would simply find a way to repackage those digital files and hand them out like candy on P2P sites. Like a paranoid and over protective parent, they were afraid to allow the gamer to simply go offline, unwatched with the game they purchased and ultimately the paranoia of lost revenue overshadowed good business sense.
Microsoft ‘is’ right on one thing. Digital IS the future of gaming. But we will get there walking, taking our time getting used to the scenery and enjoying the journey getting there. Those companies who want to make this journey with us are welcome to tag along.