Monday, May 26, 2008

The ups and downs of digital distribution

I've been waiting ages for an excuse to use this image again...

WiiWare, Playstation Store, XBox Live Marketplace, Steam... It seems like every time you turn around, a new form of digital distribution makes the scene. If so many people are jumping behind this idea, it's got to be good, right? Well, yes and no. Just like everything else, digital distribution has it's fair share of ups and downs.


-Downloading games directly is often cheaper than the traditional method. After all, there's no packaging, disc or booklet that needs to be manufactured. All you're getting is a package of data, and that's all you pay for.

-It's more ecologically friendly. As I said above, digital distribution merely involves downloading data straight to your computer or console. Thusly, packaging doesn't have to be made, saving our precious natural resources and cutting down on pollution.

-You never have to worry about it being in stock. It's not as if an direct download site can entirely sell out of virtual content. There's no reason to worry whether or not they still have a game in stock, because there is no stock at all!

-One installed, digitally distributed software generally loads faster than a disc-based game. Instead of having to go from the disc, through your disc drive and then into your computer or console, the data's already right there for the playing. Skips the middleman completely!

-You can download anything right from the comfort of your home. It's not like traditional game-buying where you have to go to a store. All you have to do is boot up your computer or console, hit the downloading service, and you're there.


-Most downloads are restricted to the machine they were first downloaded onto. There's generally no way to transfer your games to another computer or console. Furthermore, you can't even borrow games from friends, unless you take their whole system!

-Games may be cheap, but storage can be expensive. A decently-sized hard drive can cost upwards of a hundred dollars these days, even more if you go for the high-end models. On the bright side, though, you do only have to buy storage once for several games. Still somewhat large of an investment to make, though.

-No 'net, no shopping. If your internet is down, there's no way to buy a game via digital distribution. All you can do is wait for it to get fixed. Or, you know, go to a real store.

-Downloading a game can take ages. Going to the store and buying one off the shelf, however, may be as quick as a few minutes, depending on how close your local game store is.

-Running out of memory is bound to happen sooner or later. And when it does, it's time to clean out the fridge. Of course, with a certain console that shall remain nameless, I find myself clearing out the memory very, very often.

Really, how much any of the above points counts as is entirely up to one's opinion. For example, I don't mind going to the store, so not having to leave the house isn't too big a deal for me. As it stands now, I'm not really sure if digital distribution has earned the fanfare it's getting. It's good, but there's undoubtedly some downfalls. But really, no form of distribution is perfect, so I suppose it's pretty decent. For now, that is.

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The Duck Has Spoken.

1 comment:

Wolfkin said...

that'd be nice but that's not the way Digi Dist works. It should be cheaper but it isn't.