Game Marketing Tips, Analysis, and News

Monday, April 5, 2010

Game Distribution, 2015?

At a game marketing conference in San Francisco, some executives held a panel discussion on what game distribution will look like in 2015 (a report from Gamasutra here). As you might expect, the answers tended to be in line with what their companies are planning to do. So GameStop thinks that retail will become "more experential, something like an Apple Store"... really? I have a rather hard time visualizng GameStops becoming similar to Apple Stores. I can say my that my Hyundai econobox plans to become a Mercedes sport sedan, but that doesn't mean it's likely to happen. GameStop seems to think that it can ride the wave of digital distribution. Heck, Rich Hilleman (Creative Director at EA) is even feeding their illusions: "My opinion is that Target or GameStop or Best Buy or Amazon has nothing to worry about, digitally, because they understand their customers really well, and they know things we don't know." Rich, I think you know better than that. EA is already striving to establish direct relationships with customers, and in five years I would think that EA should know a hell of a lot about their customers.

Sure, Apple has taken the lead in digital music distribution... for that matter, in all music distribution. Partly because the music industry was bone-stupid about making the transition to digital distribution. They didn't want to believe that digital distribution would ever replace CDs. They saw their business as depending on the huge margins of CD sales, so they saw themselves as in the CD-selling business rather than selling music. So they let Apple determine pricing and presentation of their titles, and now many musicians are abandoning the classic model of signing with big labels.

Digital distribution of games is not exactly the same, of course. But many developers are beginning to wonder why, exactly, they need to sign a deal with a publisher when they could sell a game directly to consumers. And some are making good money with non-traditional models (see League of Legends, for instance.) It's a time of great change in the game business, and we will see many winners and losers emerge. I suspect companies that insist things will remain pretty much the same as they have been will be among the losers.

No comments:

Post a Comment