2020 - The year digital distribution becomes a threat

Friday, September 12, 2008

I saw this story about how GameStop believes digital distribution won't be a threat to their current business model until 2020.

Well, that sure seems like an absurd claim. They must have some data to back up that claim.

McKenzie - "We've done some internal studies, really looking at the bandwidth of the internet in the U.S. as it is now, and, I mean, it's years before you would be able to take a larger game and timely download that within the current configuration of the internet,"

Wait, so they are making a prediction of the trend of technology based on current figures? Surely somebody at GameStop must have heard of accelerating change or even observed the increase in the speed of the internet over the past 10 years, right?

And this doesn't even make sense right now. I regularly download "larger" games and I am usually playing them faster than I can go to GameStop to buy them. So their claim doesn't even hold up right now.

No, they seem to believe that "the current configuration of the internet" will remain as is now for the next 12 years!

GameStop, please do a little reading or even critical thinking before making such a claim.


Gavin Bowman said...

Did you see the figures from Sins of a Solar Empire?

It got a lot of publicity online, but although it sold 100,000 copies digitally, it sold 400,000 at retail.

I agree with you that digital distribution will be a threat to retail sooner than that, but I thought it was interesting how high those retail sales still were.

Sometimes I get so used to doing everything digitally that I forget how many people are still out there going to stores and stuff :).

Brian Cronin said...

Sins of a Solar Empire is a hardcore game for hardcore gamers that are more likely to buy online anyway.

Something like Madden or Pokemon Coal (bad joke?) would currently have a lot less in digital sales of course.

Over the next few years, digital distro is only going to get bigger and bigger as the market and consumers do want it. GameStop (and retail in general) is the only thing that doesn't want it.

Edward Elwood said...

Isn't the existence and operation of Steam proof against this?

I bought Lost Planet on it and the download was something like 4.3GB if I remember correctly - I let it start downloading before I went to bed and it was done when I woke up some hours later, on your standard cable connection.

This clearly proves even modern DVD-size games can be viably transported over the Internet in acceptable time frames.

Steam also gives the added convenience of not having to store serial numbers, not needing the CD in the drive for games that require it in retail format, and getting patches for your games immediately.

Dial-up users still have retail, but by 2020 I'm expecting broadband at least 3-5 times faster than current day consumer-grade fiber optics, and I'd say that's a conservative expectation.

Brian Cronin said...

History would indicate that internet speeds in 2020 will be more like 100 times faster than today, that's a conservative guess too.

And this is assuming some paradigm shift doesn't occur before 2020...

Paul said...

David Perry did reply to that article: http://www.gamedaily.com/articles/news/david-perry-blasts-gamestop-ceo-for-spewing-nonsense/?biz=1

Brian Cronin said...

Thanks for the link Paul! He makes a lot of really great points.

I think he was replying to a different article though. In any case, thanks!

Gorion said...

For IT ppl (no matter which branch) it is always stupid to look ahead 5 years and do something based on that.. because in 5 years everything will be changed.

In japan they have the most bandwith of all, and fast connections too. (i think most ppl in the big cities have fibre glass). In holland were allmost that far (most homes has fibre glass connections, but no ISP is using it, some are though).

Currently i buy all my games online. Just because there is no store near that sells games.. (not true, but i dont consider sims 2 and barbie "games" as games..)

Anonymous said...

Interesting stuff from a former employee...