Sunday, July 10, 2011

Digital Downloading: Good or bad for gamers?

While I was browsing the "Games on Demand" section of Xbox Live the other day, I wanted to purchase a fairly old game. The game in question was The Darkness. I had played it before and had a sudden urge to revisit it. The game was listed at $19.99, pretty pricey for a four year old game that got little buzz and was also a multi-console release. I was skeptical, so I hopped on Amazon and started browsing for cheaper prices. I was able to find it for as cheap as four dollars used, while Microsoft found it appropriate to charge me nearly twenty dollars.

If you sign onto any of the three major consoles of this generation, you can access a store to purchase games instantly without having to leave your house. Its convenient and its the way of the future. With music and movies moving into the digital phase, games are right behind these other forms of entertainment. And with huge companies like Amazon and Microsoft beginning to utilize cloud storage, it seems inevitable that digital downloading will become the norm.

As consumers, there are some cons to this adjustment that many people are taking for granted. We could be losing many outlets to purchase games. Publishers could decide to only allow consumers to purchase their content through their online store, or through a console's store, resulting in one fixed price and eliminating retailers and competitive pricing. In turn, we are losing the chance to sell our own purchases due to digital content. You buy a game online, beat it, get sick of it, and you can't get anything for it.

There are many ways developers and publishers are beginning to eliminate secondhand purchases by using digital content. EA, for example, has virtually eliminated this by every new game coming with a code to enter their online servers. If you don't have a code, you can purchase one from their online store. A quick, simple, and effective way to steer people away from buying used. Unfortunate for us, great for them. It's not that I think these companies shouldn't get their dues, I just feel that as consumers we should have freedom in shopping.

We still have a ways to go before we do reach a completely digital gaming medium. I'm not against the idea, but it does pose some important questions for both the consumers and publishers. Besides, I can't complain if I can purchase a full 360 game from my room at two in the morning.


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