I understand this notion, but it's like saying that we'd all be better off sucking milk directly from a cow's teet.
We don't all have access to cows. There are still plenty of homes out there running older computers, lower speed internet, or simply don't understand online mediums yet. It's still relatively new stuff (remember Oblivion was really the first DLC anyone ever saw on a console of any note). Yeah, those of us here may be more savvy about it, but there are way more gamers than the hard core.
Hell, more families probably own a Wii right now than a computer that will be capable of running the upcoming Civ V. Those things are a chore to use online--and don't have a lot of space for it in the first place. Even the suddenly download friendly XBox 360 started out with such a small hard drive that people wouldn't have been able to install FFXIII on the original hard drive.
This new world is not one that's ready to abandon the physical all together even if some of us would transition into that world easily. For that matter, keep in mind that some of us are multi-platform users and I, for one, am not in the mood to download an entire loaded Blu Ray worth of content onto my PS3 hard drive, nor do I want to download two discs worth of Mass Effect 2 to m 360 just to play it.
It's sometimes distracting enough to rip stuff from the disc before I play. I don't want to also have to consider which 20gig title I should delete just to try a new demo or install another game--especially if each install requires that I download it again.
Besides, some of us enjoy physical copies of our games (even TellTale Games understands this by offering fans DVD copies of their digitally distributed titles).
For that matter, I like knowing that if a company suddenly goes belly up (such as Steam, GoG, TellTale) that I'll have a physical copy of the game I want to play even if the distribution hub is gone.
It also doesn't take into consideration people like me, who have the Blockbuster Gamepass, and enjoy being able to rent games. I save tons of money renting 8 hour titles like Star Wars: Force Unleashed rather than paying for a shallow experience. If we didn't have physical copies then I imagine we'd see a market that completely excludes certain titles.
Why? Because I'm not likely to buy a risky new game (such as Batman: Arkham Asylum) over an entrenched series like GTA or Final Fantasy. By renting Batman I was able to figure out pretty quickly that this wasn't the traditional mess of a Batman title and I snatched up a copy.
Plus, like books, sometimes it's nice to be able to lend a cool title to a friend. Right now I've been able to lend out my copies of God of War Collection and my copy of Fallout 3 because they are physically and not digitally distributed. So, in that case you wind up doubling the value of each game--which doesn't show up on that chart.
Let me also say that this entire thing is completely dismissive of the people who actually do and have shown developers support over the last 30 years.
There was a time that there was no retail market for games, but certain retailers gave them a shot anyway. Retailers also take pre-orders and help promote and expand the demand and propagation of titles.
GoG is an excellent example of this. This is a team that really cares about games and works hard to bring awesome older games to the masses--this also creates exposure for the companies that made those games.
The same is true of a lot of retailers--yes, some of them have lost sight of the value of the artist/retailer relationship at times, but the financial power enjoyed by the gaming industry is as much a product of retailers, publishers and first parties that took risks as it is a product of developers.
In fact, when you look at developers like the now defunct 3DO, or 3D Realms, it's pretty ballsy for someone to point the finger at publishers or retailers as a wasted revenue stream. Sometimes the waste starts at the top--and the retailers go ahead and promote crappy products anyway. There's no way you can tell me that Dante's Inferno or Alien vs. Predator (both awful titles) would have made as much without the push and promotion seen on the retail end.
In fact, they probably made more than they deserved at all simply because the retail community incentivized and encouraged purchases of those titles.
Post edited March 18, 2010 by TheMadSpin