Mashcast #5: Digital Distribution
This week we’re talking about Digital Distribution! But first, Nick is salty about WoW. Christina has a new home in Final Fantasy. And Jarret is fighting a Nor’easter so he can play his games. He’s also been helping plenty of new Overwatch players get familiar with the game. He also got a Nintendo Switch (with the help of Christina!) He’s especially appreciative of all the places he can now play Zelda. He’s also talks about his experiences playing Fast RMX. The crew then debates whether Horizon Zero Dawn or Breath of the Wild should have been Game of the Year.
Getting into the main topic, we start with the history of Digital Distribution as it was in 1980 with the Gameline for Atari. In the 1990’s, you needed to hook up your phone to your Sega Megadrive, which was a difficult proposition. In 1994, Sega Megachannel required a coax cable to the cartridge in your Genesis. Stardock created Stardock central in 2001 for pc. They also created Dregen and TotalGaming.net. In 2008, Stardock created Impulse as a Steam competitor, which was purchased by Gamestop in 2011. Then we discuss the history of Steam, which as of 2013 had 75% of the marketshare for games. They mention several of the other competitors, and talk about the problems with EA’s Origin service. Ubisoft’s Uplay was also problematic.
Next, we talk about XBox Live and PSN. XBox is ahead of Playstation in this regard, especially since games take forever to download on PSN. PSN, however, has a better selection of games. XBox Live struggles for that. We also give a quick mention to the PSP Go for its digital distribution. The effect of Digital Distribution on retail has not yet begun to affect retail the same way that PC sales have. We also mention that Digital Distribution exists beyond just video games, and that is affecting the rate of change we are seeing.
The problems with Digital Distribution include account theft. Also, Steam support is known to be terrible. Credit Card theft from account hacking is also an issue. And it is possible to be locked out of your game due to the question of game ownership. Also, EULA’s can lead to problems as often they restrict your ability to sue as you are forced to use arbitration.
The benefits of Digital Distribution are great, however. It is faster and often includes many discounts. There is debate of whether it is better for the enviroment. It does grant access to more games, though.
We wrap up by talking about the end of games provided by Digital Distribution, as publishers can decide when a game should no longer be playable, not the consumer. PT and Scott Pilgrim are discussed as examples, and Jarret fails not to bring up Destiny 2.