Brick and mortar mindsets, mandatory installations, and endless updates are all components of a broken retail model, says Dino Patti, head of the Danish indie studio Playdead, maker of Limbo. Appearing at the GameCity 6 festival in Nottingham City, UK, Patti ruminated on the rise of digital distribution and the drawbacks of shipping physical discs, insisting it was time the major players started fully embracing the digital scene.
“The retail model has always been and still is broken, from a developer’s point of view,” he told Eurogamer. “Driving discs in a big van all over the world is really inefficient. I don’t understand how anyone can make money out of this. Driving a truck to Japan just to get it delivered to people when they can get it from the net? Hopefully the new consoles will embrace the download space even more.”
Patti’s perspective comes from his studio’s recent success with the downloadable game Limbo, a critical darling which debuted on Xbox Live Arcade and has since continued to sell oodles of copies on Steam and the PlayStation Network. Further downplaying the physical retail model, he added: “I only buy the disc if I want a console game, but everything else I download from Steam. And all the new games today also need to be installed. Why did I get a console if the games need to be installed? That really sucks. That’s a PC.”
Whether or not the next generation of consoles will truly “embrace the download space” remains to be seen. In the meantime, major studios like EA (Origin) and Valve (Steam) are already making significant strides in the digital downloading arena, while companies like Gaikai, OnLive and even GameStop are getting on board with video game streaming. In short, there are options—but are they enough?