Discs vs Digital – Round 2

Another big name has waded into the Discs vs Digital debate in the form of Namco Bandai VP of sales, marketing and publishing Olivier Comte.

You may remember that recently, SCEE President Andrew House acknowledged that games sold on discs in boxes are still popular but that digital content could possibly the way forward. His comments were discussed in great detail on the Train2Game Forum.

In an interview with MCV, Comte spoke about a number of subjects including the digital market. He questioned its relevance on consoles;

Today digital is a significant part of PC gaming. We are a Japanese company and Japanese companies are not known for PC titles. But we need to have a product on every platform – including PC – so in that sense digital will start to become more important for Namco Bandai. There is better margin and using a digital platform gives us direct access to the consumer.”

“But in terms of console, it is a little bit too early to say. The only real business model for digital on consoles is DLC because the consumer will always want to have the box because it is an expensive thing.”

He raises a good point about the contrasts between the digital markets of console and PC games. As mentioned in a previous blog, the PC has embraced the idea of digital distribution and downloadable content far more enthusiastically than the Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3 has. The dominance of Steam in the digital distribution market has of course helped this along. Meanwhile, console owners prefer their games to some on a disc in a box.

So, while downloadable games may not be to the tastes of major distributors, it’s an ideal way for independent Games Designers, Games Developers, and Games Artists and Animators – like Train2Game students – to get their work out there.

This appears to have worked for independent studio Hello Games, who’ve just released their first production in form of Joe Danger on the PlayStation Network – and it’s had some very good reviews. We’ll have to wait and see if these positive reviews transform into downloads, but with a relatively low price it’s likely that many gamers will be tempted to try it out.

We’re not so willing to risk our money on something new if it costs £40 and doesn’t even come in a box. But this raises an important question for independent developers; do you save costs by releasing your first game as a digital download? Or do you sell it in a box which consumers can pick up on the shelf. Train2Game students, as producers, which medium would you prefer?

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