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How Long Before Apps Overtake Physical Video Game Content Sales? 144

Posted by Soulskill
from the think-we're-just-waiting-on-call-of-duty-halo-and-wow-ports dept.
jamie writes "Horace Dediu crunches some numbers and comes to a startling conclusion: 'If you look at the red line above and its slope, it would indicate that, given time, the App store will overtake the entire physical media gaming industry. The time when that happens will depend a lot on the growth or decline of the physical game media business, but another four years seems a safe bet.' This follows on the heels of some earlier analysis of apps per iOS device and what that steady upward growth means."
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How Long Before Apps Overtake Physical Video Game Content Sales?

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  • Oblig (Score:5, Funny)

    by somersault (912633) on Tuesday January 18, 2011 @06:14AM (#34914100) Homepage Journal

    Yuh-huh [xkcd.com]

    • Re:Oblig (Score:5, Informative)

      by somersault (912633) on Tuesday January 18, 2011 @06:18AM (#34914116) Homepage Journal

      WTF. I just RTFA and it's comparing music sales to apps, not game sales. And these apps are not all just games either, so it seems a pointless comparison to make even if you can get it right. I probably wouldn't pay for a game on my phone, but I would perhaps pay for something like a navigation app if I didn't already have a good one built in.

      • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Tuesday January 18, 2011 @07:11AM (#34914314)

        Is if you want to actually analyze game sales, the question isn't iPad shit, it is on computers. The reason is on PCs you now have a choice between retail/mail order and download for almost all games. Services like Impulse, Steam, and Direct2Drive sell pretty much every title online. Their regular prices are usually competitive with stores, and their sale prices are almost always better. So is a person wishes to, they can buy games online. It is a direct 1:1 comparison since we are talking the same games, the same platform.

        THAT would be the thing to research. This just sounds like yet another tech journalist (using both terms loosely) who is infatuated with his iToys and thus wants to write an article about how they are T3H FUTURE OF EVERYTHING!!!11. Real research would have been to talk to game publishers and find out how their sales of physical vs download compare, and how that has been changing.

        There's little data on it publicly, but Stardock, who runs Impulse and has published Sins of a Solar Empire, Elemental and Galactic Civilizations, says it is about 4:1 physical to online sales.

        It is clear that the online market is large and growing. I personally buy nearly all my games on Impulse and Steam these days just out of convenience. However what I do has no bearing on what society does at large. Without hard data, it is foolish to say everything is going that way fast. It probably is in the long run, but who knows how long?

        For that matter until game consoles start selling their games that way there is going to be a large physical games market there. Currently only some things, mostly smaller more indy type titles or older games, are sold for download on consoles. All the current titles are disc only. Given that consoles are a big segment of the gaming market (as are handhelds, which are also physical sales) until that changes you aren't going to see a move to "no physical media).

        I think we'll see the day when physical media is more or less totally dead, but I could see it being 30-40 years before it happens.

        • Very informative- thanks for that.

          And beside online purchases there is also the emergence of games which are not purchased (Flash games), use micro-transactions (Facebook, LOTRO) and subscription based games (WoW) which derive their main revenue post-box sale. Ignoring these and why they are very popular while speculating on trends is short-sighted.

          Something I find so strange is retail sales of game cards, which are not only far less cost-effective than online sales, but are also generally purchased by/for

        • by mjwx (966435)

          Is if you want to actually analyze game sales, the question isn't iPad shit, it is on computers.

          Agree about the Ipad. Yes copies of flash games are passable but the proper games (or attempts at proper games) like FPS's are utter shite. Android will be the same. You will probably be able to get away with a fighter like Mortal Kombat or an easy driving sim/racing game like Mario kart but then you hit a hard limit of what you can not do with touch controls and no tactile feedback.

          The reason is on PCs you no

          • by Lumpy (12016)

            Call me when the profit from ipad game sales even TOUCH the profits from the call of duty series.

            And how you cant play call of duty on the ipad without sucking hard. the Ipad and iphone interface is utter crap for FPS games.

          • The publishers love the "last year's gamers" thing too. They can hit a market of people that won't pay full price, but are still willing to drop money. This was harder to do in retail since shelf space is expensive. Thus stores only carry titles that are performing. Generally once a title drops under $40 they axe it, except for some special budget titles. Digital stores allow for them to reach those customers. Titles can be kept forever, down to any price point.

            It also takes cash away from the used game mar

      • by JWSmythe (446288)

        You're right. All they're showing is trending towards people buying more apps through iTunes than music. I didn't read the whole thing (I lost interest shortly after the graph), but it doesn't seem to include factors such as changes in the market. Has there been a trend of increasing numbers of applications, or making previously expensive applications cheaper? Maybe it's a trend that there are more iTunes devices out there. Or possibly that while the customer base continues to grow, the

      • Cut them some slack.
        Apple needs to boost its shares value somehow.

        Prepare to read how iPhones clean the air, reduce global warming and feed the hungry in next couple of days.

      • Yes I think online app games will eventually overtake physical DVD/bluray sales.
        I also think it sucks.
        You can't trade-in your used app for cash. You do save ~$3 for gasoline or postage, but that doesn't make-up for the overall loss of not being able to sell your game for ~$20 on the ebay.

      • by dwightk (415372)

        clicking on the link and looking at the picture is not ReadingTFA

        • Okay, I had a further look, and the figures are still all over the place and comparing apples to oranges. Physical video game sales are obviously going to dwindle into nothingness. For another thing if you're not just counting game apps, you should be comparing app sales to the whole of the software industry, and there's no way in hell that mobile apps are going to overtake that. We pay over £20,000 a year just for a two processor license for one application, then another £12,000 or so for 5 flo

          • by dwightk (415372)

            Now that's worth a 3 or 4 interesting much more than the original was a 5 informative

      • You apparently didn't actually RTFA. You looked at the pretty picture and moved along. That chart shows music sales in iTunes, and App sales in iTunes. But the article said that physical game sales currently sit at $840 million a month, but are trending down 5%, where as app sales are steadily trending way up.

        The suggestion was that as iTunes came to dominate all music sales, surely it will do the same for games.

        The problem I have with the article is that I want to see overall game sales over a lengthy peri

        • by Rich0 (548339)

          Not to worry - according to the growth rate on the pot of E. Coli I have simmering in the other room the entire planet will be one big mass of bacteria by next Tuesday. That's a conservative estimate based on current growth rates.

      • Next week they're going to put together a chart showing sales of Apps versus retweets of Kanye West's comments on Twitter.

        Then we'll know for sure.

    • Re:Oblig (Score:5, Funny)

      by buro9 (633210) <.david. .at. .buro9.com.> on Tuesday January 18, 2011 @06:51AM (#34914246) Homepage

      You know the moon is moving away from Earth at a verifiable few centimetres a year? Well if you extrapolate backwards it's obvious that the dinosaurs are extinct because the moon hit them on the head... doosh! That'd make you extinct pretty fast.

      Cold hard science here guys... it's undeniable.

    • by yamfry (1533879)
      "Did you know that disco record sales were up 400% for the year ending 1976? If these trends continues... AAY!"
      • That cartoon reminds me of an ad I saw on TV.
          - It was for ATT mobile devices to watch movies/hear music while on the go, and showed a family sitting in a living room, watching their Pads or phones, and nobody was talking to anyone else. Yeah that's an exciting future. Sign me up!

  • I've had to purchase old games that I wanted to keep playing again just because the disc got scratched. That isn't going to happen with something like Steam.

    The App Store model is wonderful. Apple (with it's various restrictions) just has a poor implementation of it.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Just because you suck at protecting your property doesn't mean the rest of us want to give up ownership. Being able to use product without having to re-get permission from the publisher every time is something I don't want to give up. Without it, a $50 product is worth about 50 cents or one go at an arcade machine....in 1993.

      • by naz404 (1282810)
        In that case you should try Good Old Games -> download all the games you bought DRM-free, back up the installer files, re-install anytime you want, re-download anytime you want.

        http://gog.com [gog.com]

        No need for an internet connection and authentication once you've downloaded the installer files, unlike Steam.
    • Re:Good ridance (Score:5, Informative)

      by vux984 (928602) on Tuesday January 18, 2011 @06:59AM (#34914272)

      That isn't going to happen with something like Steam.

      Steam has its own set of problems. It needs to fix the issues it has with "families", and how they want to use games. I want to buy a game and let my 7 year old play it without giving him my steam account. When he eventually moves out, he should be able to take it with him. When I pass on... does it just go poof?

      Suddenly, simply having to take good care of your CDs doesn't seen all that awful. They can be passed around to who you want, when you want, and they don't disappear on you.

      Of course, defective games infested with disc-checks and nasty DRM and anti-copying technology have eroded away so much of the convenience of physical media that people like you actually prefer to be locked into steams model.

      I was in the mood to play privateer yesterday... so I dug up the CD, imaged it, and put it away, and fired it up minutes later (in dosbox). Took all of 5 minutes. That's how it -should- be, even with new games.

      • Suddenly, simply having to take good care of your CDs doesn't seen all that awful. They can be passed around to who you want, when you want, and they don't disappear on you.

        Funny, I'm not keen on passing my discs around as that's one reasons that they tend to disappear.

        defective games infested with disc-checks and nasty DRM and anti-copying technology have eroded away so much of the convenience of physical media

        Whilst I do like Steam it should be mentioned that there are some games on it that have their own DRM included on top of what Steam provides (e.g. GTAIV which involves using Steam, Rockstar Social, Microsoft Live and SecuROM). However, I don't see that as a criticism of Steam, I see it as foolishness on the part of the developers not taking advantage of what Steam offers...but maybe that's just me.

        I was in the mood to play privateer yesterday... so I dug up the CD, imaged it, and put it away, and fired it up minutes later (in dosbox). Took all of 5 minutes. That's how it -should- be, even with new games.

        I wanted to pl

        • by vux984 (928602)

          I wanted to play Half Life 1 the other day... so I fired up Steam, downloaded it and fired it up minutes later. Took all of 5 minutes. That's how it is with games, even new games (provided your connection is fast enough).

          Sure, the games that I've bought through them are stuck on Steam but I knew that when I signed up for it, so who cares?

          For me being stuck on steam isn't so much the issue, as being stuck to an account. I don't really care that a given game is stuck to steam's intaller/manager instead of a p

          • Sure, being able to do that would be nice but then no-one would buy new games, they'd just share them between friends.

            I think it's a compromise that had to be made.

            Sure they could have done that just to be nice. I'm sure it would have garnered them some support from the community but when all's said and done Valve are a business and need to make money..and lets face it they've got enough support from the community as it is. I'm happy to give them a fair price for the games they sell because they give me a s

            • by vux984 (928602)

              Sure, being able to do that would be nice but then no-one would buy new games, they'd just share them between friends.

              And yet the entire games industry went from non-existant to a multi-billion dollar industry while people were able to do just that.

              iTunes is doing just fine too.

              Being able to share between friends is not a problem.

      • As someone else said here on /., the real solution is creating one account per game on Steam.

        • by vux984 (928602)

          As someone else said here on /., the real solution is creating one account per game on Steam.

          1) That is itself a violation of steams ToS. Of course, you can get away with it, but one shouldn't need to violate the rules to make something usable.

          2) While that approach does give you some flexibility with managing your titles, it makes the community aspects of steam almost unusable. If I'm playing left4dead and my brother fires up left4dead2, I'd like to connect with him... so if we have one account per game, I

      • DRM has nothing to do with the horrible physical media that is the CD/DVD. The disk itself will last a lifetime...its just those pesky scratches that make it unreadable that suck.

        • by grumbel (592662)

          Discs don't scratch themselves. You have to be pretty careless to scratch a disc to a point where the disc can no longer be read.

          • Try explaining that to any one of my three children.

            I have several cds that don't appear to be scratched, but for whatever reason (age?) just aren't readable by any of my 3 computers at home. All of them are games...ones that without a cd crack you have to put the cd in to play, which puts them at a much higer risk of becoming damaged.

            The simple fact that a game cd normally has to be handled every time you want to play it puts it at an unacceptably high risk of damage beyond use, in my humble anecdotal expe

      • Suddenly, simply having to take good care of your CDs doesn't seen all that awful. They can be passed around to who you want, when you want, and they don't disappear on you.

        Of course, defective games infested with disc-checks and nasty DRM and anti-copying technology have eroded away so much of the convenience of physical media that people like you actually prefer to be locked into steams model.

        Which is exactly what we are saying.

        Physical media was good. There was a time where it had its place. Then the companies wanted to have their DRM and eat cake too. It's led to much frustration in the community. Once broadband penetration grew, digital downloads came to fruition. Now with less hassle than physical media, auto-installing, auto-updating, less $ and do it from home, things are good.

        Even physical media games TODAY can't be passed around like they used to. Any MMO, or Battlefield games, or Spore,

        • by vux984 (928602)

          The way to get around the whole "Family sharing" thing is to have every family member have their own Steam account, and when you want a game for your 7 year old, you gift it to your 7 year old's account.

          Your missing the point. I bought it for my -kids-. Plural.

          He has access to it, you have access to his account (being his parent), and he has some material to learn how to share with brothers and sisters.

          Except that Steam forbids him from sharing it with his brothers and sisters. Of course we can do so anywa

          • I'm not sure we'll ever get something like it on the PC, but the PS3 lets you do the game sharing thing for online purchases. I don't have one, but my friends are all shared to each other and will even go in on the larger purchases together.

          • The point is that Steam is worse than what we used to have. It might well be better than what some "physical media" has become, but its still a step in the WRONG direction.

            Oh absolutely, but I also think what physical media today is worse than what we used to have. You make a good point about consoles, which typicall don't have draconian DRM methods. In terms of PC gaming though, there are very few titles that don't have some form of annoying DRM that I find are worth the extra $10-20 just so that I can go to a store, stick it on a shelf, and hopefully give it away some day.

            If you don't like Steams method than you shouldn't have any issues sharing it around the family on the

            • by vux984 (928602)

              If you don't like Steams method than you shouldn't have any issues sharing it around the family on the moral principles of the matter

              Moral principles dictate taht if you don't like a contract don't enter into it. There is no moral principle of "if you find the contract unacceptable but think you won't get busted, sign it anyway and then do what you want..."

              I would like to live in an ideal world where I only had to buy one copy of Total Annihilation and all my friends could join me on a LAN, but those days a

    • >>>because the disc got scratched.

      I consider people who scratch discs to be lazy/careless. Ever since I bought my first CD player in 1989, I've never scratched a single disc. Not one. (And even the ones I bought used, they still worked despite the scratches.) Sure accidents happen - drop the disc; it breaks or gets scrathed; but if it happens to you habitually then I suspect You are the problem.

      And you say "Steam" is the answer. Yeah steam and other online sites are great - until they go out o

      • by bytesex (112972)

        My wife and kids and the CD player in the car are the problem. I love them over CDs though.

      • I consider people who scratch discs to be lazy/careless.

        I consider people who think such a horrible physical media was ever a good idea to be lazy/careless.

        I may be lazy or careless, but I sure as hell don't have such low standards as people who actually claim they have NEVER scratched a cd.

      • then I suspect You are the problem

        Let me guess...you're a programmer?

      • by tepples (727027)

        Ya know those Atari games I bought in the 70s? They still work.

        And most of my NES games still work after rubbing alcohol on the connector. All that tells me is that cartridges are more durable than discs, especially with single-digit-year-olds in the house.

      • I consider people who scratch discs to be lazy/careless. Ever since I bought my first CD player in 1989, I've never scratched a single disc. Not one.

        I always take very good care of my discs but the problem is that some people share their discs with little kids who then go ahead and scratch them.

        • by gmhowell (26755)

          You are assuming that commodore 64 love actually has any friends with whom he could share media.

  • by tomhudson (43916) <.barbara.hudson. ... bara-hudson.com.> on Tuesday January 18, 2011 @06:17AM (#34914110) Journal
    The facts from their own chart: 10 billion in physical game sales vs 200 million in app sales. Even if it increases by 200 million a year, it will take a long time to catch up.

    Also, last years decline in physical sales was due to the Great Recession, and has already been reversed.

    • Think more exponential.

      Steam recently was selling BioShock for US$5. The local store here was selling it for approximately US$50. How many people are going to keep paying these ridiculous prices at a physical store? Not me.

      • by mvar (1386987)
        The only way for the physical stores to keep up to the competition of Steam and the likes of it, is with "special"/"collector's" editions of those games...Which, now that i think of it, you can buy from amazon for the same price including shipping...well, never mind, they're doomed.
        • by hairyfeet (841228)

          Or they can sell games at "impulse buy" prices to get folks through the door and then hope they can also sell them something more expensive, like I've seen my local Gamestop do a time or two. That is one of the things I like about Good Old Games, pretty much everything on the site is at impulse buy purchases, but hell wandering around retail you never know what you'll find.

          Just this weekend I popped into Fred's with my GF to pick up some compressed air I perused through their disc stack while she was looki

      • by Mascot (120795)

        I assume due to the publishing deals, games are generally more expensive on Steam than in stores where I live. With the exception of the Steam sales, of course.

        Result is that if I want a new game, I buy in a store and save 30-40% off the Steam price in many cases. The remainder of my games I buy when Steam does their 50-70% sales.

      • by Xugumad (39311)

        Amazon.co.uk has it for £6.89, or about $10 (although for some reason I can't paste the URL, so you'll have to trust me). On top of which, I don't have to tie up my Internet connection for several hours downloading it, and the Steam sale was a limited time special. If I want to buy a game at launch, I can expect to pay £5-10 more for the digital copy (really, we don't know what's with that), compared to having a physical copy shipped to me in time for release day.

        The point being that digital sal

      • How many people are going to keep paying these ridiculous prices at a physical store?

        Anybody who lives in an area where the only choices for broadband Internet access are satellite and 3G. Both of these have caps not suited to downloading multi-gigabyte video games. For games on DVD-ROM, even a "Super Saver" shipment from Amazon will likely arrive faster than a download that has been throttled to 200 MB/day to fit under the cap.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Buy a physical copy of an iPhone game. Go ahead. Go to your local game store and buy an iPhone game.

      Oh, wait, you can't, because you can only buy them through the Apple App Store. (App Store cards don't count, you still have to download the game and don't get a copy on physical media.)

      Guess what? Sony wants in on that action for the PSP2.

      The answer is going to be "when the people selling games stop offering them any other way."

      We've still got a few console generations to go, the Nintendo 3DS still uses phys

      • 'cept Ids Rage is is going to be 2-3 dual layer DVDs big, so I think I'll by a physical copy thanks.

        I also still replay a lot of old games and my kids are catching up on my back catalogue, I want a game for life, not for the life of the company authorising my use.
      • Download only is not the worst it can happen - at least it can be cracked. The worst is streaming only (a la OnLive).

      • by Narishma (822073)

        The PSP2 will still have physical media, unless they want it to tank in the territory where it will probably be the most successful (Japan).

    • No, 10.1 billion per year in game sales versus 200 million per month in app sales. Also, TFA says that app sales may have already reached 300 million per month in the past few months, which shows how rapidly online sales are catching up with with physical games' 840 million per month.

      • by Nemyst (1383049)

        Then again, a single physical sale is worth like ten app store sales. Furthermore, app store games tend to be much more simple and therefore have a shorter usable lifespan. While it's true you might purchase five games on your iWhatever, you'll often go through them in a matter of hours and then it's just repetition - think arcade games.

        You don't get to see things like Bioshock or Starcraft 2 on the app store.

        Now if we compared things with Steam, it might be different, but this isn't the case being made her

    • by Zangief (461457)

      The 10 billion figure is yearly.

      The 200 million figure is monthly.

      They are still far apart, but not by as much as you imply.

  • I enjoy the competition that many different retailers bring to the market, and also being able to buy second hand.

    The convergence of all media to digital stores where you have no rights at all scares the hell out of me because of the lack of regulation governments put on digital sales to protect consumers.

    The thought of a world where games/movies/music/books/news being controlled by Apple/Microsoft/Amazon/Google doesn't seem like a very nice place.

  • Just eyeballing their figures, 4 years sounds plausible. Let's theorize:

    Are sales of physical media still a good approximation of the health of the traditional games industry?
    How do steam and the console services compare to the itunes app store in terms of income?
    Will itunes application sales continue on this trajectory, or level off as the ipad and iphone reach saturation?
    Are there really many valuable ideas still to be expressed in app form?
    Will iphone-game consumers ever migrate significantly to tr
  • That article's written as if digital downloads have already killed physical music sales. But my local HMV's alive and well. So how true is its "we all know how that one played out"?
    • by Khyber (864651)

      Hollywood Music Video tends to carry more obscure stuff, and thus remain in business because their stuff is less likely to be widely pirated like a big business film.

      Very much the model of the Black Lodge video in Memphis, and they carry the obscure of the obscure.

    • HMV posted another disasterous quarter and are closing 60 stores in the UK. Sales aren't that great.
      • by delinear (991444)
        Not only that, but it's sales of DVDs and games that are keeping the store going - sales of music have dropped off a cliff (as evidenced by the fact that in most HMV stores you'll have one or two shelves of the latest chart music front of store, the rest is buried right away in the back corner or on a different floor while the rest of the shop front is given over to DVD/BluRay). Meanwhile Zavvi and Woolies, the biggest physical music competitors, already died out in the high street.
    • by kyz (225372)

      Physical music sales don't know they're already dead.

      Check out this graph of music sales by format, 1973-2008 [nytimes.com]. You can clearly see that each format grew, peaked, then was pushed to death by some new format. Cassettes killed vinyl. CDs killed cassettes. Digital downloads, provided they don't suddenly drop (and there's no indication that they will) are going to utterly kill CDs in the next few years. Since 1999, music publishers have made less and less money from CD sales.

      Sure, you'll still be able to buy CDs

      • Most of the other formats were killed by something that was better, though. Downloads don't revolutionize music consumption in the way the cassette did, and they actually reduce sound quality unlike the CD (they don't have to, but itunes downloads do). On the other hand, they are cheaper. Maybe that's enough? I Still don't think it's a forgone conclusion. History clearly favors obsolescence, but it's hard to say if the CD fits the pattern.
        • by !eopard (981784)
          Donwloads are more convenient as they take up so little space when compared to physical media such as CD's, plus they are easily integrated into something else you were already carrying - your mobile phone.

          Sure quality may be a bit lower, but how can you tell when listening to music through cheap earbuds?

        • by kyz (225372) on Tuesday January 18, 2011 @07:51AM (#34914462) Homepage

          Downloads don't revolutionize music consumption in the way the cassette did

          Are you kidding?

          Cassettes allowed portable playback - great. But digital downloads just made impulse buying possible. You can buy anywhere, anytime. It's not convenient to buy from a physical music store unless you're already in one.

          • It's not convenient to buy from a physical music store unless you're already in one.

            Then why did Amazon buy CDNOW?

          • by delinear (991444)
            I've definitely found myself doing this more often, even as a longtime stalwart of owning the physical media. Previously I'd hear a song I liked, search the lyrics, find the name, read some reviews and unless I could find a really good deal on the album online, I'd wait and look for it cheap in the local music stores. Now within seconds of hearing the song I can have bought it for less than a quid (without having to buy the rest of the filler from the album if I don't want it) and be listening to it. It's j
      • by mangu (126918)

        Very interesting graph, thanks. Do you happen to have a link to the raw data for this?

        One important point there, until the 1990s sales were growing year by year, then they suddenly dropped. Total sales from new formats is nowhere close to what CDs brought in their peak.

        It seems like the RIAA is right in that downloads are hurting their income badly. I like that. I cannot see an ethical justification for all those billions going into the music industry like that, without any benefit to the public or to the a

  • If you get rid of the outliers red line's slope is much less steeper. We clearly need more data.
    • by Moridin42 (219670)

      They're also comparing apps from an app store to games on disc, as if those two markets were directly competing. I got news for the author; they're not.

      Second.. they're also basing their estimate of when apps will overtake game sales on the assumption that physical game sales are shrinking, because last year was down 5%. Although they conveniently don't mention that for roughly the same period, both song and app sales revenues also had declines. See those nice well-below-the-pretty-line data points in the g

      • by tepples (727027)

        They're also comparing apps from an app store to games on disc, as if those two markets were directly competing.

        Apple has been marketing the iPod touch as a handheld video game system, a competitor to the DS and PSP. So at least Apple thinks they're competing.

    • by mangu (126918)

      However, if you do consider the sep-10 outlier, the red curve looks more like an exponential function than a line. OMG, song incomes have already been surpassed by app sales!

  • Since they are all applications of a computer architecture, you could argue they already have, with advent of Steam and other online stores selling software.

  • Steam (Score:4, Interesting)

    by sunderland56 (621843) on Tuesday January 18, 2011 @08:24AM (#34914582)
    What do you consider Steam? [steampowered.com] It isn't physical media, and it isn't the Apple app store either.

    Steam probably sells a sizeable percentage of all video games right now, and is steadily increasing it's market share.
    • by dwightk (415372)

      Yeah, I'd guess if you added steam's sales to the slope, non-physical games sales would overcome physical games sales even quicker.

  • Buttons (Score:4, Insightful)

    by MasaMuneCyrus (779918) on Tuesday January 18, 2011 @08:37AM (#34914652)

    I've said it before and I'll say it again:

    The video game industry is not in danger until all these phones with games start getting dedicated buttons for those games. Touch screens and motion controls do not now, nor will they ever replace buttons.

    • I've said it before and I'll say it again:

      The video game industry is not in danger until all these phones with games start getting dedicated buttons for those games. Touch screens and motion controls do not now, nor will they ever replace buttons.

      Any smartphone with a keyboard has dedicated buttons. If you have Flash Player on your computer, look up the Game Gripper [game-gripper.com], a piece of plastic that fits over your phone's keyboard and turns it into a gamepad.

  • by Zenin (266666) on Tuesday January 18, 2011 @08:42AM (#34914668) Homepage

    Seriously, comment mod points are..umm...pointless, when the stories themselves should be modded -1.

    How does this half-assed amateur blog nonsense make it to the front page of /. anyway? Is it really that slow of a news day for tech? Sheesh...

  • by ledow (319597) on Tuesday January 18, 2011 @09:00AM (#34914744) Homepage

    Well, I've stopped buying games that come in boxes. Several years ago, in fact. There are several factors: Availability, Price, Convenience, Backup/Returns being impossible or worthless anyway, and Impulse-buying. I don't really use App-stores at all (I have no Apple devices) - the nearest I get is Steam but is that really an "App-store"? I think possibly the WiiStore might count but the same holds for that as for Steam. Anything PC that I buy tends to come from digital sources, though, because I need to be able to move it between machines and have it follow me for several years (all my Steam games have followed me perfectly since 2003, so they have a much better reputation already than 99% of the app-stores, eBooks, music-stores, etc. out there).

    1) Availability: Most of the games I've bought, I do *not* see on shelves in stores. That's if I bother to go into a store at all. Can you buy Altitude in a shop? No? Why not? World of Goo is available for the Wii but I've never seen it in amongst the Wii games at any shop I've ever been in. Because physical media production and distribution is expensive, and because shops decide what to sell (which means high-margin products mainly), and because the "PC" section of any games shop is shrinking by the day. Can I get GTA (the original version) or Quake? No. As soon as a game is a year old, it disappears and only re-appears in supermarket "bargain basement" stands costing almost as much as it did new.

    2) Price: Most download games can be had much cheaper. Whether they are brand new or years old, they are usually cheaper online as a download. I don't need the boxes, the manuals, the flyers, etc. If I *really* do, I can just print them off from a PDF - the money I save by not having the maps printed by the games publisher is much more than the cost of printing out only the maps that I *DO* actually need. I throw the boxes out because, after decades of keeping them all, I've realised that I *NEVER* use them and only need the occasional manual for copy-protection. They also damage much more easily than an original install disk (and copy) placed in a proper disk storage case and kept safe. My entire software archive since my first CD-drive (and several dozen floppies) can fit into a box under my desk - approximately the same size as 10-15 games if I were to keep the boxes. The only thing I need to buy is a storage medium in a container - a DVD or CD case fits that description, or a USB key, but a lot of games only come in A4-sized thick boxes.

    3) I have to go to a shop. Find a physical box of the exact type I require. Make sure it exactly corresponds with the game I want and is for the right platform. Take it to the counter. Have some guy put his sticky fingers on a disk that they ripped out earlier in case people stole it. Carry it home. Unpack it (so the packaging has a journey of about an hour). Throw the crap away. File the manual somewhere (or more likely just throw it). Take the CD and *carefully* make a copy (if I can) or install it. Then put that CD into some sort of case for long-term storage so it won't get damaged (and which doesn't take up the whole room). Or I just could click the link on something like the Steam / GOG.com store and have it installed within ten minutes while I'm using the computer for something else. When I'm done with it, I delete it. If I want it back, I double-click it (or at worst download it again). If I want to back it up, I copy a folder/file it into my normal backup paths. If I want to move it to another machine, I just double-click it from the other machine.

    4) Backup/Returns: A lot of games can't be backed up from the CD / DVD. If I do, they often require hideous hacks that can affect the game and/or online accounts. With digital downloads (as counter-intuitive as it is to anyone who worries about DRM), I can back them up and restore them on other machines quite easily. If there's a problem with a game I've bought, it's usually only a) physical disk is broken or b) software is brok

    • Price: Most download games can be had much cheaper.

      Even when you figure in the overages for going over the 200 MB/day cap on satellite or MiFi Internet when trying to download a game that otherwise ships on BD-ROM or multi-DVD? Buying games on Amazon takes far less Internet bandwidth.

      I have to go to a shop.

      You can go to Amazon in your nightshirt.

      And the console that comes with a built-in 3G connection (only to an app-store, obviously) as part of the purchase price will sell a million.

      It's called a Samsung Intercept. Virgin Mobile USA has it for $250 plus $25/mo, but the games are far smaller in size than the typical 1.8 GB UMD or even 256 MB (2048 Mbit) DS Game Card; after buying the app, you typically have to go to W

  • by Gybrwe666 (1007849) on Tuesday January 18, 2011 @09:43AM (#34914990)

    is the fact that we are beginning to accept the term "app" as a distinctly different category/delivery method of software, rather than whatever poor comparisons/facts of the original story. We are now getting to the point where Steam/ITunes/et cetera et al. have become a distinct category of media, even though each one is an "app" in the original sense of the word.

    Seems to me that this trend is essentially inevitable, whether it's the game industry or any other category of computer software. Simply put, not having to create, manufacture, and distribute physical media is cheaper, faster, and easier for everyone, and as the percentage of people with acceptable "broadband" speeds (which is pretty low, because it's very likely you'd put up with a 6 hour download of a big game in the background) increases, the drive to move away from physical media benefits everyone.

    So, move along, no real story here, just some journalist looking to get paid by the word to repeat the obvious.

    • and as the percentage of people with acceptable "broadband" speeds (which is pretty low, because it's very likely you'd put up with a 6 hour download of a big game in the background) increases

      It doesn't look like it'll increase to everyone any time soon. A dual-layer DVD-ROM game is going to take several days of 6 hour download on a typical satellite or 3G provider's cap of 200 MB/day. And by the time satellite gets faster and LTE Advanced is ubiquitous, new games will likely have become even bigger, possibly spanning multiple BD-ROMs.

  • An app costs 1-5 euros or so on average. There are some very good 'app' games which cost less than 3 euros. A video game costs 60 euros when its just come out.

    I'm sure many people don't mind going for a day without their coffee and getting an app, then the amount of people who would pay 60 euros - which is quite a bit. Especially if you consider students and teenagers to be large markets. Many of them don't have money to burn.

    Its the spending threshold.

    So that's about it.

    • by jedidiah (1196)

      You also wonder how many of those "apps" will be classics in their own right. A lot of ipad games are simply classics that have been adapted to the PhoneOS platform and perhaps watered down a bit.

      Will any of these things be something you want to pick up 10 or 30 years from now and play again?

      Will they even be available if you wanted to?

  • by Stooshie (993666)
    The conclusions in the article don't appear to relate, in any way, to the graph they are showing.

    The graph shows song sales versus app sales. The article talks about app sales versus something they call "physical video game content sales". WFT is that when it's at home?!

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