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Monday, October 31, 2011

Issue: Games: Online Distrobution

Issue Summary:
Online distribution (digital delivery,electric software distribution) allows game companies to deliver video game content without the use of a disk. The content is delivered directly to the to the end users platform (PC,game console,phone) via the internet. The content may be streamed or downloaded, streaming users may download and use the content whenever they choose and for as long as they would like but must request it from the providers servers first, while downloading users hold all downloaded content on their platforms hard drive.

Online distribution is an enticing option for companies because it cuts expenses and opens the door to new business models, like how the music industry adopted the Open Music Model. The music industry is now able to sell songs from an artists album separate, giving listeners the option to buy the songs they already enjoy without being forced to purchase the whole body of work, which alleviates the need for listeners to decide if they enjoy songs they have not heard yet.

Game companies now have the ability to initially sell a portion of a title, then present the rest of the game as downloadable content, or (DLC). This is beneficial to the company as they may release the title as a complete standalone for full price no matter its point in the development cycle, and continue to release additional game content at leisure over the course of years for a third the price of the initial release.

Steps to reproduce:
Online distribution has become pioneer country in the games industry, with one company emerging as arguably the front-runner of the service. The company is named after the gaseous phase of water, it was started by a big boned individual and his weird friend. They used to build operating systems for a philanthropist until they decided they liked games better than doing things that only facilitated it, even though they were pretty good at that as well.

So they built this internet thing that sells their own and other companies games and DLC. They figured it would just be easier if every game was in one place, because for them at the end of the day it was about fixing a problem they saw and they would deal with the money stuff when it came up because they had crap-tons of cash already, and were pretty much over being rich.

They traveled hat in hand to video game and internet people they met along the way trying to get them to see how this would help everybody and fix a big problem before it got worse, but nobody wanted anything to do with it.

Even their old philanthropist friend said no. The philanthropist reasoned that no other video game company in their right mind would give a competing company their product to sell, that other company would rip them off, obviously, and they would not have any say in how their game is presented. What if it's not front page? What if it competes with something they were trying to sell? It sounded stupid.

The public thought the service sucked hard at first. They just wanted their games, and they did not trust the internet to hold on to something they bought on their behalf. What if the internet or the company went away, what would happen to what they bought? It sounded stupid.

But the vapor company stuck with it, they approached each developer individually and plead their case in a way that the developer knew money didn't mean shit to them as they had more money than they knew what to do with. They were more interested in changing stuff, so a lot of people gave them their games to take care of. They took that responsibility seriously, almost everyone got off their back, and things got better for a while.

Expected Result:
Major game companies have recently pulled their titles from the vapor store. Each has a different reason, but most boil down to conflict of interests, exploitation, or money. The companies that object appear later with their own online delivery service with modified objectives.

They provide only their own titles, all the profits go directly to them, and the end user must deal with them directly if they need help playing the games they bought. But it hasn't gone so well. People don't like or trust them, they want them to go back to the vapor place because after a while it just became easier for the people to get everything from one place.

So now end users are mad, because they just want to play the games they bought, and not deal with shit they don't care about and didn't pay for.

QA Observations:
QA believes online distribution is an unavoidable but dangerous direction for the industry. The absence of physical media will negate the need for artists, floor production personnel, and many more vital industry jobs.

This shift puts responsibility for the survival of the industry squarely in the hands of game companies. End users have no dealings with the data delivery process, and without a physical disk are beholden to the deliverer for services and content if something happens to their hard drive data.

If the end user feels they are being cheated or manipulated dealing with each online distributor separately for access to purchased content for too long, they will simply stop purchasing the product. The end user only wants to play the video game they purchased, and wish it to be fairly priced, complete, and available to play any time they wish to play it.

QA suggests companies decide among themselves a centralized hub for delivery of online content after coming to an agreement on the business related details among themselves, as now the decision to do the right thing completely up to them.

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