Remedy Entertainment are more than ready to accept a fully digital business model for gaming. They were behind last year’s underrated slow-burn, Alan Wake, and the game’s DLC showed the developer that an all-digital platform may be the next step for the future of gaming distribution.
Matias Myllyrinne, CEO of Remedy, is more than open about the readiness for digital distribution. Having positively experienced this type of selling platform with the Alan Wake DLC, The Writer, Myllyrinne feels “the sooner the better” to roll out a full digital model.
It was hugely successful, and really resonated with the fans. You’re adding to the value that you’re giving people. But I think on the other hand you need to be very careful — the game that you ship and provide folks needs to have a meaningful ending and closure.
Myllyrinne touches on a hot button when he references DLC being an addition of value to a game. This can be true given the quality of the shipped version of a game, and he does clarify that the game itself needs to reciprocate its original selling price by providing a full experience.
He also touches on Alan Wake‘s episodic structure and how it meshes with a digital model:
Having a TV series structure really, really worked well for it because it’s kind of natural for a TV series to go on to season two or have specials.
Although he can’t fast forward to the possible industry-wide all-digital model, Myllyrinne acknowledges the resources he has now to fulfill a digital distribution model:
Certainly we’re looking to embrace more of the digital stuff. I’m really excited about PSN, [Xbox] Live and some of the stuff on Steam, because it really allows you to directly engage with your audience. All these opportunities are opened up that you couldn’t do before — there wasn’t a model you could work around.
Myllyrinne feels that once the gaming industry converts to an all-digital model that developers, publishers and gamers alike would benefit from the evolved business model. The one outlet that would most likely suffer are the brick and mortar retailers, and he has something to say about their potential suffering:
Maybe [it’s] not so good for retail, but then again if you’re selling our games as used copies and incentivising people to do that, then I don’t really feel sorry for you.
Some questions do come up, however, if an completely digital distribution model becomes a reality.
It’s obvious the standalone retail stores will struggle, just look at how Borders stores have closed due to loss of business to online outlets like Amazon. Plenty of gamers don’t have the cash to shell out for every triple-A title that comes out and, despite the frowned upon view, the used game outlet helps get the games in gamers’ consoles. If this model went away, there’s a chance we’d see an increase in pirated digital copies of games which will hurt developers and publishers even more than a drastic price reduction.
Also, the time and money invested in manufacturing and creating the retail boxes would be freed up with an all-digital model, and companies like Electronic Arts are already cutting cost in physical packaging by no longer including manuals in the box. With the thought of DLC, would said time and money easily go toward creating more content within a game for it’s initial release? Would free DLC become more common? Would the extra time and money increase the game quality?
We are currently in a mixed distribution world with the likes of Steam, PSN, and XBLA. Most digitally available full-feature titles are also for sale in boxed form, whether it’s immediately or down the line similar to Xbox’s Games on Demand platform. The majority of digital-only titles aren’t full-feature games, mostly shorter in length or a smaller experience in general – though this is slowly changing with the quality of titles on PSN and XBLA becoming closer to full-feature games.
It will be interesting to see how the digital-only model plays out. With the potential relation to print media and cable television, it’s safe to say the times are changing and we might see this all-digital platform sooner than we think.
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