There's a story on Joystiq about the convergence of games consoles and network play, suggesting that the industry is slowly moving away from physical media
, preferring the control and simplicity of online distribution. The article points out that Microsoft's Games for Windows Live, despite being relatively unpopular, has seen continued development with an eye toward interacting with Xbox Live. Quoting:
"While it's unlikely that the next generation of consoles will completely forgo disc-based media, downloads are quickly becoming a much bigger part of the experience. Some games, such as Rock Band 2 and Gears of War 2, are now shipping with codes for free downloads. This isn't because the publishers like you and want to give you free stuff. It's part of a larger strategy to increase the importance of the online presence, where content can be tightly controlled and decrease the importance of physical media, and thus, used-game sales and rentals."