A digital only distribution system could bring down the price of games
The price of games is a topic that pops up every now and again. The $60 standard for buying new games has been around since the Xbox 360 and hasn't really changed since. Because of this, the question needs to be asked, will the price of brand new games ever drop below $60? If so, it'll likely be due to digital-only distribution channels.
Well, why would this make games cheaper?
For starters, game devs would not have to worry about the cost of manufacturing game discs, nor the cost of shipping their products. This cost would no longer have to be factored in when pricing games and could help bring down game prices.
Another point is that Sony and Microsoft would be in direct competition with each other when selling games. Yes, both Sony and Microsoft are in competition with each other now, but if they only had a digital method to distribute games; each company would have to show why their distribution platform is better than their competitor. And what better way to show you have a better distribution platform than by having better game prices.
A good example of competition affecting game prices is Steam. Steam has a lot of competition when it comes to selling games. Good Old Games, GamersGate and 2game are all websites that also sell digital games. By doing Steam sales, Valve is able to bring more traffic to their site, as they offer better prices than their competitors.
So why don't Sony and Microsoft do this?
Why don't they just shift to an all-digital distribution system for their consoles? Well, Sony and Microsoft can't because they rely retailers like GameStop and Amazon to sell their products.
GameStop and Amazon would be less likely to stock games for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One if they knew the consoles' digital stores offered a better deal. From a businesses perspective, there is no point of stocking products that have a low chance of being sold, as this takes up space for other, more profitable goods.
At the moment, we are at a midway point between physical and digital distribution.
Physical copies of games are becoming more obsolete as time goes on. It is more practical for someone to own their games digitally; than to have a physical collection of games. The PC gaming scene has shown how cheap games can be with a digital storefront. Sure new games are still being sold at $60 each, but the constant sales that occur on Steam and other websites can see these games going for 50 percent off at some stage.
On the other hand, digital games take up a lot of hard drive space when downloaded. 500GB of space doesn't last long with current game sizes. Both Sony and Microsoft are selling consoles with 1TB of space now, but within another generation that won't be enough. This problem also affects physical games as the install sizes are becoming bigger, with 20GB and 30GB of space needed to install a game becoming the norm.
Also, not all countries have access to a reliable internet connection. Certain internet providers in other countries limit how much data you can use in a month. Once you go over the limit they start charging extra. I know that in Ireland if you live outside a heavily populated area, it can be quite hard to get a stable internet connection for a reasonable price.
Even though there are major issues with shifting to a digital-only distribution platform, I think it won't be too long for consoles to go full digital when it comes to games. We have already seen a patient for the Nintendo NX that shows it might not have a disk drive, so it might not seem too far fetched to see Sony and Microsoft do the same with their next generation of consoles. If this does happen, these new consoles would need even more hard drive space.
So what do you think? Would a digital only distribution system bring down game prices or would they stay the same? Let us know in the comments below.