GameStop Have Head In Sand Over Digital Downloads

The future of games distribution is digital. Whether that's in 5 or 15 years' time, that's what's going to happen. Your grandkids won't be buying games in boxes. But don't tell GameStop that!

The retailer has said that an "addressable market" for the digital download of games - as in, one that needs addressing by the company - "will not exist until 2014."

And even when we do get to 2014, GameStop reckons only 25% of its customers will "have access to the technology required to download full games" by then.

Right. Let's break that down.

- Almost everybody with a PC already has "access to the technology required to download full games", via digital delivery services such as Steam and Direct2Drive. These services are already seeing big take-ups, with more and more publishers distributing their titles on them. Steam, for example, now carries almost every game from all of the big publishers, including Activision, EA, Take-Two & Ubisoft. Those publishers, unlike GameStop, can see which way the wind is blowing.

- Soon, anybody with an Xbox 360 and an internet connection will be able to download the full version of retail games. Not demos, not limited online-only games, but full, complete games, just like the ones you used to buy at GameStop.

- The PS3 already has this ability, with the full version of Burnout Paradise having been available for download for months now. It'll only be a matter of time before, like the 360, Sony begins to offer more titles.

- Especially when you consider it's Sony who will soon be launching the world's first major download-only games console, the PSPgo. While the PSP was never really GameStop's #1 earner, the writing is clearly on the wall when a company doesn't just stop at offering games for sale at retail and via download, but cuts out retail altogether.

Ask yourself this: in 2006, how many games did you download? And that question is open to anyone, PC owners or console gamers. Now, in 2009, how many games do you download, with all the major publishers on Steam and digital downloads on all three home consoles starting to hit their stride?


GameStop can twiddle their fingers and cover their ears all they like, but saying only 25% of gamers will be downloading games by 2014 just sounds crazy. They'll be lucky if it's not at that number in half the time.

Analyst: GameStop Expects 2009 Console Price Cuts, Slow Digital Sales Adoption [Gamasutra]


    I still buy boxed games for the 360, but the only boxed PC game I've bought in the last two years was the Warhammer Online collectors edition, and even then it was only for the other stuff in the box (best CE ever, by the way). For everything else, there's Steam.

    I Dont download games for any platform the only thing i download are expansions like oblivion,fable 2,gta 4 .I like having something physical for my money plus i like to collect the games and keep them on my shelf and sometimes they still come with quality books and figures, maps and art books.

      Should say manuals and art books :)

        Here here brother. I can't stand the thought of not having a physical copy to put on proud display in my library. Particularly if it's any kind of special edition or such (the wooden Farcry 2 box and Assassins Creed PC tin stand very proudly in my collection)

    I vowed that Far Cry 2 would be the last game I would buy in a box after having so much trouble buying the DLC for Australia. I'm done with paying more money to buy a box that no longer comes with a proper manual and requires AGES to install. I format my PC regularly and with Steam, I need only download the small client file, install it into the directory of my old Steam install and BAM access to all my Steam games in under a minute.

    Call of Duty World at War... I swear I could download the whole game faster than it installs... Why am I paying more to suffer? To hell with retail.

    Bring on the Digital Distribution only days.

    I use all my downloads every month without downloading full priced games. I think the 'casual' market probably has far less bandwidth and wouldn't go buy their wwe, nhl and wii tennis games online, if they even have their consoles or computers hooked up to the internet to begin with.

    If downloading online is the way of the future, I think piracy has a huge future to tag along with that.

    I'd like to be able to buy games online, but it takes up to much of my download, which I share with my family. Also, with the games I'm passionate about I prefer to get the collectors edition. I haven't ever downloaded a full-sized game. I still get DLC online though (as opposed to the boxed versions of DLC that companies put out).

    I'll probably continue to buy my console games on discs for a while still since the PsStore still doesn't offer full games or payment via paypal. On my pc however, man in the past 8 to 10 months I've easily spent more money on steam bought games than boxed games. The price difference and the convenience is just so good.

    Gamestop, EB, hell every retailer who sells games, music and dvds, their days are all numbered. Within the next 10 years these types of stores might not exist at all anymore. The fact the 'old guys running stuff' think this isn't going to happen as soon as it is only proves how ignorant they truly are.

    Full console offerings digitally is still ages away, the bandwidth just isn't there, and especiall in terms of Australia, with bandwidth limits, it just isn't feasible at all.

    For handheld gaming however, I'm more than happy to go digital, it's just plain better for the developers, and cutting out the 2nd hand market.

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