on Jan 27, 2012
I’m obviously fascinated by this digital distribution business. I think it’s interesting to see this transformation in the industry, changing how people shop for software and how they think about “owning” things. It’s like seeing suburbia switch from shopping downtown in the 50’s and 60’s to shopping in malls from the 70’s onward. There are going to be a lot of non-obvious repercussions to this down the line.
Six years ago I wrote this rant about how I thought digital distribution wasn’t going to make any headway in the marketplace. I think I’ve been pretty firmly proven wrong on that point. However, I’m going to stick to the other point I made that we’re never going to be rid of boxes in stores. This is a much safer bet. I mean, you can buy MMO time cards in a store, which is 100% digital goods. There will always be people looking to buy physical copies, either because they’re old-fashioned or because they want to give it as a gift. Stores won’t give up on it either, simply because it’s another sales vector. Steam can sell me stuff when I browse the store, but it can’t sell me a videogame when I’m shopping for shoes, which is something Target can do.
Shamus Young is an old-school OpenGL programmer, author, and composer. He runs this site and if anything is broken you should probably blame him.