E3 2009 and two significant steps were made towards increasing the number of full games downloaded rather than bought in stores. Firstly the PSP Go with it’s built-in memory, lack of a UMD drive and focus on the PSN store. Secondly Microsoft launching full 360 games, pointedly canceling their sparse run of Xbox classics. It’s clearly huge, because soon we’ll be buying full games for these systems and Gamestop (and Game in the UK) as well as all the other stores won’t see a penny.
Yet, did you notice the utter lack of fanfare to that effect? It was as if Sony and Microsoft didn’t want to nip at the hand that feeds them with any grandstanding about the new services. In the future, like it or not we’re going to be downloading most, if not all of our games. That time will be different for all of us. Some (like me) will hate the fact that we don’t have a boxed, hard copy for our collection or something to sell again on eBay or Amazon to further fund our hobby. But a lot of people won’t care at all and will in fact be glad of the ease of use. No more having to deal with sales clerks, no more clutter on our shelves, just teeming hard-drives and instantly accessible games.
But clearly these two giants would rather we took this in our stride and keep Gamestop happy with vouchers for downloadable content like Lost and Damned and exclusive demo access for top games like Killzone 2 (for all the good that did). This is a relationship that’s going to turn sour in the years to come as the market evolves. This was just the first, quiet change with great unseen importance. Now if you don’t mind, I’m going to go and gaze at my World of Warcraft disc boxes. They’re just meaningless bits of shelf-candy now. I may as well throw them away. But they’re so damn pretty.