Last week on Xbox One's Reddit page, I offered my thoughts on the digital distribution strategy for both the Xbox 360 and the Xbox One. The post itself became quite popular, and attracted many different opinions which I hadn't considered.
The reason for my post was simply that I cannot wait to move to an entirely digital games library. My PC games are already filed neatly away on my computer and in the cloud, but I am a console gamer, and my tower of retail games is becoming a bit of an issue around the living room.
While I understand that worldwide broadband speeds aren't quite up to snuff, new technology has allowed concepts such as preloading content, and "play as you install." Both of which seem to be a sure thing on the next generation of consoles, but that's not the issue I've been having with digital games. I (and many other gamers) want the opportunity to buy games for cheaper than retail, because currently for Xbox 360's Games on Demand, you can always find a cheaper price if you look somewhere else.
Microsoft was certainly on the right path with their original plan for the Xbox One, it was a giant step in the right direction. But it was a future that people didn't seem quite ready for. It appears that some people (or the vocal minority, at least) want to be introduced to this new way of enjoying their console games slowly, like dipping your toes into a hot bath; rather than being thrown into the deep end of a freezing pool with Microsoft's new change of online policies.
It reminds me of a quote from Charles Darwin, "It is not the strongest of the species that survives or the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change." I'm ready for the change now, I just wish everybody else would embrace it, too.
But as various people mentioned on my previously mentioned Reddit post, console manufacturers have a continuing dependence on game retailers. For the time being, Microsoft (and Sony and Nintendo) can't simply undercut retailers, because retailers would then have no reason to stock their games or consoles. Publishers need their games in stores with the consoles or their sales will stagnate. Brick and mortar games retailers are definitely on a path to extinction, but it's a very gradual decline. Rushing it would be bad for the industry. However I believe this will be the last generation that games retailers will survive through.