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The broadband infrastructure in this country is nowhere close to being able to support a mass market discless HD console, and unless Sony and Microsoft want to launch a console that only markets to people living next door to the telephone exchange in metropolitan areas then I doubt very much they'll be abandoning physical media anytime soon. Actually even those lucky sods with 'ultra fast' connections have to contend with ridiculous download caps and throttling at peak times. And we're one of the better off countries in the world, presumably they'd also like to shift stock in countries with even less net provision (a point Kaz Hirai recently made when asked about going digital only).

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No, Harsin is right. When a new game/piece of DLC releases on Steam, the servers shit themselves. Steam is great and I am a big advocate of it, however we don't have the infrastructure to support day one release of AAA games digitally yet. Live would go nuclear if it was the only way you could get BlackOps. Not to mention the uptake of people only buying digitally, support from next gen consoles and factoring in people who don't have internet connections.

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It's likely that apes will rule the Earth before titles are all of a download-only variety. Broadband providers are lazy, greedy fucks here - and they're never going to stop being like that unless someone kills their families and pets.

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THe thing that's become annoying is that where-ever specialist stores are shut down the prices even for pre-owned go up.

I think what we are seeing is similar to what the video industry just went through with Blockbuster where one or two chains become way to powerful screwing both the consumer and the content providers which works quite well. For a little while.

Until both the content providers and the customrs find a way to circumvent them.

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While I agree that one day the industry will be download only, I'm not going to a hazard a guess when that will be since I have no earthly idea of what it will take for it to happen. What I will say is, when it does happen, will anybody else miss the boxed titles? I dunno, I just like having a tangible, real object to bung on my shelves and pop in my console, and part of me will be a little sad to see it go. I also like getting the occasional special editions of games, with their art books or other such stuff (Halo: Reach Limited and Gears of War mainly).

I'll be all for it when the transition happens mind, though it'll make half my lovefilm subscription useless.

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I suppose Korea might be able to handle it, with its 100MB connections, anywhere else no. Either way there will be a huge transition period, boxed games won't just vanish overnight.

Virgin are launching a 100mb service aren't they? Sure, it's cable meaning most people can't actually get it, but it's not as if improvements aren't being made. BT are trying to put out a faster network as well

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Digital only is the way to go because it's more convenient for everybody. Using discs is an archaic method. The success of the Appstore, Xbox Live Arcade and PSN proves that people are getting used to it. Having at least one unsupported-by-retail gaming platform (mac lol), download is the only option. And it works, downloading the 10gb installation file for Dragon Age from an online retailer took only an hour or so. Going to a shop and back home would have taken as much time probably. I think when connection speed goes up and retailers go down, it'll be the distribution mrthod of choice.

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What I don't like about shopping for games in the 'real world' (as opposed to online), is that they are, by and large, carbon copies of one another. Since Game bougt Gamestation, GS have become a shadow of their former selves. Now they're just a smellier, less pink version of Game.

There is no haggling with them like there used to be. I went into Game and Gamestation this week on the hunt for a ps3 bundle bargain. Not only were their bundles shitter than those of HMV, they were more expensive, too. And there was absolutely no leeway on them at all. I explained that I wanted the 320gb ps3, I wasn't interested in Move or FIFA 11 or Medal of Honour, and wished instead to swap the games out for something I would actually play. I either got a flat out 'no' ('our bundles are set by head office, nothing we can do') to 'you can buy it as is, then trade the games back in and get less than half their value to put towards something else. I think in Gamestation this worked out to trading in 3 titles to get 1 back. The caveman who was apparently trying to persuade me said 'you're still getting free stuff at the end of the day'. No, I'm not, you hairy, bearded mong. I'm actually losing out!

They didn't seem to grasp that here I was, willing to part with up to £300, if only they'd have a bit of savvy, a bit of salesmanship. If I was presented with a customer willing to pay that much for something in my store, I'd bend over backwards to make sure they did.

In the end I went to HMV and told the bloke I wanted the 320gb ps3 with god of war 3, prince of Persia and 300 on bluray except I didn't want prince of Persia or 300. No worries, he said, and allowed me to swap them out without hassle.

It saddens me to walk down the high St these days and see what has become of it, but if anything I see it getting worse, not better. Take DVDs, for example. In Birmingham city centre there is only one place you can buy DVDs: HMV. There are 3 HMVs for you to choose from, but if you don't like HMV or don't like the price they've put on something you want to buy, you're shit out of luck!

A move to download only for things such as movies and games is still a long way off yet, in my opinion.

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They didn't seem to grasp that here I was, willing to part with up to £300, if only they'd have a bit of savvy, a bit of salesmanship. If I was presented with a customer willing to pay that much for something in my store, I'd bend over backwards to make sure they did.

I wonder if they'd have bent over backwards to sort you out ten £32.99 2nd hand copies of games that came out a month ago.

My local GAME has almost no new stock. They have the chart, a small section of "other" new titles then several bays of used games.

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Digital only is the way to go because it's more convenient for everybody. Using discs is an archaic method. The success of the Appstore, Xbox Live Arcade and PSN proves that people are getting used to it. Having at least one unsupported-by-retail gaming platform (mac lol), download is the only option. And it works, downloading the 10gb installation file for Dragon Age from an online retailer took only an hour or so. Going to a shop and back home would have taken as much time probably. I think when connection speed goes up and retailers go down, it'll be the distribution mrthod of choice.

1 hour if you have god's internet connection (That's an average of over 20mbit/s even with no overhead)

The average UK connection speed is 3.8Mbit/s. So actually a 10gb game is 6hours 8 minutes for the average internet user, assuming a perfect connection.

And that's for a 10gb game. A PS3 game is already often much, much bigger than that. Any next gen console is likely to at least double that again.

So actually there's every chance of 100gb games not far into the life of a new download only console. That's 60 hours at BEST even for an average connection, not even a slow one.

We're a long, long way off yet. PC gamers generally have larger connections so it (just about) works, if not for PS3 sized games but a home console? Not any time soon.

They didn't seem to grasp that here I was, willing to part with up to £300, if only they'd have a bit of savvy, a bit of salesmanship. If I was presented with a customer willing to pay that much for something in my store, I'd bend over backwards to make sure they did.

And then you'd go out of business. Console hardware sales make almost literally no money. The reason they give away the games they do is they get them very, very cheap due to deals for this purpose. Your alter purchase at HMV WOULD have been a loss for that company.

While I know it's still the same now, let me gie you an example where I have numbers.

The PS2 was £159.99. GAME were offering a free platinum labelled game with it. The profit on that? 50p. If you'd swapped for literally anything with the same selling price they were losing money on the deal.

They started bundling a GAME brand controller with it for £10 more. Profit then? Literally 14 times as much (£7) on the bundle.

The only way to justify it is on hoping for customer loyalty and that they'd come back and buy games from you. These days, in this market that seems a fools errand to me.

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According to some letter we got, we should have 80Mbit, but that's probably on peak moments only. This is in a package including digital TV and a landline telephone, which sets us back about 60 euros a month. This is quite common over here, so I'd expect that to be pretty much standard in the civilised world in a couple of years?

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According to some letter we got, we should have 80Mbit, but that's probably on peak moments only. This is in a package including digital TV and a landline telephone, which sets us back about 60 euros a month. This is quite common over here, so I'd expect that to be pretty much standard in the civilised world in a couple of years?

You'd hope but nope.

In the UK the government want everyone to have 2Mbit (yes, 2) by the end of 2012. Other than that we're stuck on existing ADSL infrastructure for the majority of the populace for the foreseeable future.

Some of the country can get cable, but I can't even in the middle of London. A lot can barely get ADSL. My parents literally can't get better than a 3Mbit connection (and that can't sustain that) no matter how much they pay.

Ultimately I agree, it'll happen. Next gen? Only if they're not paying any attention at all to what their average customers actually have right now.

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What I will say is, when it does happen, will anybody else miss the boxed titles? I dunno, I just like having a tangible, real object to bung on my shelves and pop in my console, and part of me will be a little sad to see it go. I also like getting the occasional special editions of games, with their art books or other such stuff (Halo: Reach Limited and Gears of War mainly).

I thought that about CDs but it turns out I'm not fussed. I've got some nice box sets of a few albums at my Mum's house and some never opened CDs that I've bought after downloading. I never thought I'd not want the artwork and cases but it turns out I'm fairly ambivalent since I don't even keep them at the same address I live at. That of course won't be everyone's experience but I do wonder how many people taking this stance will change their minds.

Of greater significance IMO is the total control of pricing which publishers will gain post digital only distribution. Most people on here I imagine enjoy the routine 25% off RRP that online sales offer. I think it's unlikely that RRP will come down when retail has been cut out of the equation but there will be no alternative to paying that price. I imagine it'd be quite possible that big franchises like Modern Warfare will be charged at an unavoidable premium.

RE: Sergeant Squid's bundling story, I think that's rubbish too, why not make it a transparent restriction on bundles? If they said you can have 3 games that cost x amount or one that costs Y amount surely the shoppers would be happier rather than feeling as though you've been ripped off by losing some of the value of your purchases immediately.

They could still offer FIFA etc at a discounted rate but that'd be a special deal you could opt into as opposed to an unavoidable bundle. The state of affairs wouldn't be any different but at least you wouldn't feel hard done by if you didn't want those titles.

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I thought that about CDs but it turns out I'm not fussed. I've got some nice box sets of a few albums at my Mum's house and some never opened CDs that I've bought after downloading. I never thought I'd not want the artwork and cases but it turns out I'm fairly ambivalent since I don't even keep them at the same address I live at. That of course won't be everyone's experience but I do wonder how many people taking this stance will change their minds.

My problem is not digital but DRM.

I agree with you by CDs. That's because I only started buying digital music when it became DRMless at iTunes and MP3s at Amazon etc. Now that's pretty much all I buy.

1) I can put the music on anything I want.

2) The only way I lose access to it is by my own idiocy

3) Music was always so cheap that resale has never REALLY been a big thing.

4) Music is a tiny download, maybe 250mb an album tops.

None of the 4 above apply to games. I bought XBLA stuff because it's cheap but the second MS decide, I can lose access to it all. If you have Xbox 1 DLC you already have lost access next time anything takes it off the 1 aging HDD in your xbox. With my music I'll just sync it straight back from the backup.

Plus games cost £40, not £8 and we've already discussed the average joe's likely issue with 40gb downloads above.

So yes, I won't miss physical too much. But unless I can keep it all safe and usable offline forever I certainly DO have an issue with it.

RE: Sergeant Squid's bundling story, I think that's rubbish too, why not make it a transparent restriction on bundles? If they said you can have 3 games that cost x amount or one that costs Y amount surely the shoppers would be happier rather than feeling as though you've been ripped off by losing some of the value of your purchases immediately.

Except that two games priced at £19.99 did not cost the shop the same amount. They could well be getting the ones in the bundles for pennies when they sell them with consoles, often funded by the platform holders.

They already DO offer you the flexibility. Buy the console on its own for RRP and then buy the games you want.

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My HMV experience of buying a PSP was also similar - they were happy to give me pretty much whatever I wanted (within reason).

It does help to have a relationship built up at your local Gamestation though. They go the extra mile if you know them.

As for Game, they get worse by the week and are only for very casual gamers nowadays - just look at their stock.

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A great OP.

I don't think discs are going anywhere soon though.

Sony have come out and said that there's no way they could fully drop physical media for consoles just yet. They made the point that they sell a lot of consoles in countries where broadband is still in it's infancy, so if they put out consoles in those markets, they would either have to supply them with a separate hardware design with a disc reader built in, or would have to provide an additional peripheral which could read discs.

I think physical and downloadable games will live alongside each other for many years to come, but I also think we're going to a see a new business model emerge with the release of new consoles from here on out. I'm guessing that part of the reason Sony's and MS's online stores generally offer poor value for money (when selling full price games), relative to the high street/online stores, is because they are bound by an agreed RRP price for which to sell games at, and they are not allowed to under cut their distributors with the prices they charge.

I'm guessing that from here on out (likely beginning with the PSP2) we'll see a new agreement drawn up, which allows Sony/MS/Nintendo to make every game published for their system available via their own online store, at a cheaper (I'm guessing by about 25 percent) price than retail. I expect retail to counter this, by beefing up both the value and number of special edition releases, so buying a game at retail will no longer be just about buying the game, but more about getting a fancy box, figurine, artbook etc. I think this business model (once implemented across the board) will cut the legs off many retail outlets, but will not wipe them out entirely, and will be sustainable for many years to come.

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The situation in the UK is completely different from that in the Netherlands though. I've always envied the way games were sold in the UK, although apparently that's changing fast if these posts are anything to go by. To give you a brief overview of the typical practice of selling games in the Netherlands:

- There are very, very few 'indie' shops. Those that exist are mainly in larger cities and sell some extra stuff like retro games, action figures, game-related merchandise and guides. Most also trade second hand copies and accept tradeins. In my experience these shops are staffed by spotty geeks who smell of sweat and piss and who breathe exclusively through their mouths.

- Not only are there very few 'indie' shops, there are very few dedicated gameshops. The few that do exist are just satellites of larger chains of toystores and offer exactly the same stuff.

- Apart from a few indie stores, there is NO TRADING IN SECOND HAND GAMES. Yes, you read it correctly. None of the retail chains will accept or sell trade ins.

- I guess that about 99% of all games are sold in music- or toystores by staff that generally don't know The Sims from Demon's Souls.

- And everything is sold at RRP, everywhere. Apart from the incidents when a high profile game is launched in which case some chains may try to cut prices a bit to lure in customers.

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As said, even if we did all get super-fast broadband in a reasonable timeframe (which in itself is pretty unlikely, I think something like a grand total of 3 exchanges in Wales have been identfied to get FTTC by the end of 2012 in BT's roll-out), then you still have to contend with the ISPs.

This is the current traffic management policy for O2 one of, if not the biggest ISP in the UK.

88360177.jpg

Oh and the basic package has a download limit of 20gb per month.

Anyone fancy downloading Final Fantasy XIII on that?

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And that's for a 10gb game. A PS3 game is already often much, much bigger than that. Any next gen console is likely to at least double that again.

So actually there's every chance of 100gb games not far into the life of a new download only console. That's 60 hours at BEST even for an average connection, not even a slow one.

We're really not going to have 100GB games anytime soon. Blu-Ray was designed because they expected the size of game assets to continue rising exponentially, but this trend hasn't happened the way they've expected. You might get the odd game that uses more than 10GB (replicating the game data 5 times doesn't count) because it's plastered with HD cutscenes, but Blu-Ray was included because it was expected that every game would be using 50GB by now, which hasn't happened.

Although game assets have increased exponentially, there's also much fewer of them in games this generation, because games have become really expensive to make and are shorter as a result. Basically, the gains in size have been largely offset by reductions in quantity, and the trend in growth is now much slower, and will be slower still for every new generation that comes around.

Not that we're going to see a new generation anytime soon, anyway. I'd say 100GB games are 15 years off, if at all.

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