How Digital Distribution and DLC Reinvent Gaming

As observant readers may have noted, we’re firm believers that many of the most promising trends in gaming are happening outside the box. Blame the dawn of digital distribution and downloadable content (DLC), which are helping to transform the way in which we browse, purchase, access and enjoy games of all shapes and sizes. Moreover, these technologies are also rapidly redefining the entire field of game design, allowing software makers to instantly patch, update, iterate and refine titles in real-time, plus extend their shelf life indefinitely by constantly adding new upgrades and expansions.

We recently produced a documentary entitled Let’s Get Digital that dives deeper into these issues, and explains why it’s a win-win for game makers and fans alike. Of course, the phenomenon is also serving to turn games more into services than products these days as well, putting greater pressure on publishers, who used to be able to simply ship a title and move on. Now, many selections also have to be supported for months or years on end with multiplayer servers, regular downloadable upgrades (new missions, characters, vehicles, scenarios, etc.) or persistent user communities – a costly proposition. While a complete 180 from the business strategy of the past – build it, pack it, ship it, move on or start work on the sequel – it’s an interesting shift. Suddenly for today’s top digital diversions, retail launch is the beginning, not end, of many games’ lifecycles.

We recently got the chance to weigh in on the subject courtesy of our friends at the AFP. In an article entitled Motion Controls to Grab Players at E3 Videogame Expo (reprinted here courtesy of Yahoo! News), we discuss the new frontiers that digitally distributed games and DLC open up for indie developers, and challenges they present for traditional publishers as well. As an added bonus, the piece also takes a look at the pending impact of devices from Microsoft’s Kinect to Sony’s PlayStation Move, and the hottest new games and technologies (3D gaming, cloud computing, etc.) on the horizon. Be sure to scope it out for a look at the future of gaming, and how it may soon appear unrecognizable to those of us who grew up with Nintendo Entertainment Systems (NES) and Atari 2600s in hand.

About Scott Steinberg
Scott Steinberg is CEO of strategic consulting and product testing firm TechSavvy Global, and a noted keynote speaker and business expert. Hailed as a top tech expert and parenting guru by critics from USA Today to NPR, he’s also an on-air analyst for ABC, CBS and CNN.

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