It might be time to reconsider the idea that digital distribution is the future. According to analyst firm DFC Intelligence, it actually stopped being the future quite some time ago, as nearly all PC game purchases made in 2013 were done digitally.
Last September, GOG.com celebrated its fifth anniversary. That meant five years of easy access to DRM free classics, five years of not having to endlessly tinker to get old games working on modern systems, and five years of being able to say "gog" without people giving you a funny look. All things worth celebrating, which is why the digital distribution service has released a retrospective video, which briefly tells the story of those five years. Quick game: try to guess how many times they say "DRM-free".
Deals between distributors and devs tend to be secretive affairs bound by legal tape, unholy rites and signatures of blood and the like, but Edge have spotted a tweet from the creator of Fez, Phil Fish, who encourages players to buy through Humble Bundle because "we get 95% of revenues as opposed to steam/gog's 70%"
Digital distributor GOG.com has been letting younger games, with their modern engines and loud dubstep, run loose amongst the traditionally older residents of its catalogue. The problem for the store is that this newer generation are into all sorts of weird stuff - DLC, episodic releases, and even DRM. Rather than just give the youth free reign, they sent out a survey to customers, asking them to vote on what is and isn't acceptable to sell. They've now published the results, providing an interesting look at how these often controversial industry aspects are being received.
It’s hard to imagine how Minecraft could become any bigger than it already is, or how Mojang could spend the money if it did. Then the Mojang guys tell me. It sounds like a good plan.
Instead of indefinitely expanding Minecraft’s in-game content, Mojang intend to gift its future to the modders and tinkerers.
Ubisoft have launched a new online store called Uplay, bringing another contender into the increasingly crowded digital distribution race. The downloadable client can be used to buy and launch Ubisoft games, and has a range of community features like Xbox Live style avatars and achievements designed to "strengthen your gaming relationship with your friends." There are better rewards than points on offer on the store front right now. Daily deals are offering a small selection of titles for £1 each.
Last night EA announced its financial results for the first quarter of this year, and the figures say some fascinating things about the state of the games industry. There's number crunching below, along with some interesting insight into the workings of a major publisher.
After the spectacular success of the Steam Summer Sale, I wondered again why Minecraft still isn't on there. Looking back at developer Markus Persson's blog post on the subject a year ago, it seemed like the things they couldn't previously do on Steam are now possible. So I asked him: that?
EA CEO John Riccitiello has been defending a downturn in EA stock in an interview with CNBC, spotted on CVG. He addresses a "a perception among investors that the game industry is tough to invest in right now" by challenging the validity of NPD reports that only take into account boxed retail sales in the US.
He uses PC gaming as an example of how the games business is changing. "Just five years ago people said that the PC game business was in a radical state of decline because NPD said it was down 10 percent, 20 percent, 30 percent, year-in year-out," he says.
"The fastest growing platform for video games today is the PC, but it's growing through subscriptions, through micro transactions and through downloads."
Green Man Gaming, the independent online game shop, have announced that they'll be merging with Playfire, a social network that tracks the games you and your friends are currently playing, offering stats and badges to reward your gaming achievements. The companies won't be smushing into a single amoeba-like entity, they'll exist alongside each other, offering cross-service perks like easy access to GMG accounts from Playfire, and vice versa.
Yesterday the European Court of Justice ruled that consumers had the right to sell digital their digital games. This is something that could potentially change digital distribution forever, but how exactly? Eurogamer have been speaking to Paul Sulyok, CEO of Green Man Gaming, about what all this could mean.
SEGA have just announced that many of their European offices are about to close. New distribution partners have been announced across France, Germany, Spain, Australia, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg.
Good Old Games relaunched this morning, and shall henceforth simply be known as GOG. The online store has occupied a neat niche in digital distribution, reselling modernised versions of classic games with bonus parts like soundtracks and extra artwork, DRM free. The relaunch heralds a bit of a shift in their remit. GOG will now sell indie games through the service, and games from major labels within three years of their release. Trine, The Whispered World, Machinarium, Darwinia and SpaceChem are on the way, with more planned soon.
The increasing variety of games available on GOG will dilute their identity a bit, but they're planning to sell new titles and indie games with the same principles in mind. Their stance against DRM remains as firm as ever, as managing director Guillaume Rambourg told Gamespot. "It has taken us 3 years of hard work to build up this catalogue and convince rights holders that removing DRM is actually the best way to fight against piracy, a "sector" that managed to succeed where most of the gaming industry failed to perform: providing (illegal) gamers with a simple and fast access to games within a few clicks."
Following the announcement last week, GAME has entered administration. MCV report that 227 GAME and Gamestation stores have closed. 2104 employees have lost their jobs, 40% of the Game Group's UK workforce.
CEO ian Shepherd has announced his resignation, effective immediately. He's stepping down to allow administrators, PriceWaterhouseCooper, to take charge. Shepherd said that they'll "make big changes, both to the store estate and in the office, but will be doing so with a view to creating a trading business that he can attract a buyer for."
The mournful collapse of the UK's main UK gaming retailer, GAME, is almost complete. This morning GAME's board declared that there was "no equity value left in the Group," and removed the company from the stock exchange. Now MCV report that they've filed for administration.
The stores will keep selling games for now as Game's bosses decide what to do with the hundreds of stores they have across the UK and Europe. MCV claims that the group is planning to cut off a number of international stores, close down most of their Gamestation stores, and relaunch as a rebranded, streamlined operation.
UK retailer, GAME is in bad shape. MCV are reporting that shares in the troubled company dropped in value to just half a penny each earlier today. That's a 98.8% decrease in value from their value ten years ago. MCV also mention that senior executives are bracing themselves for the possibility of entering administration within the fortnight if they fail to find enough cash to keep the company afloat.
Here in the UK massive discounts have seen store shifting consoles for less than half their normal price as the company tries to inspire a revenue boost. The outlook seems bleak, however. It's though that US retailer, Gamestop could step in and buy up parts of GAME's international business, which could preserve jobs and keep the company going. GAME has 1300 stores worldwide.
Panic stations for people who've pre-ordered their copy of Mass Effect 3 from GAME or Gamestation: the UK-based retailer won't be stocking any EA games in the month of March after PS3 and Xbox 360-only title SSX. That includes Mass Effect 3.
Eurogamer spotted the news this morning, in a memo sent around GAME Group employees. For PC gamers, the news means we won't be seeing any new EA titles for release in both GAME and Gamestation this month. Keen speculators would assume that drought would continue beyond March.
Yesterday's EA financial report turned up plenty of big numbers for Star Wars: The Old Republic. Some of that success seems to have rubbed off on their new digital download service, Origin, which now has more than 9.3 million registered users. That's about a quarter of the number of users as Steam. Not bad for a service that's only seven months old.
EA's Financial Results report also mentions that Origin has generated "more than $100 million in non-GAAP revenue since launch." Origin-only pre-order deals and Origin digital exclusives like Star Wars: The Old Republic and the Battlefield 3 beta will have helped the service enormously in its early months. Its future prospects are none too shabby, either.
Happy new year! We're back of from two weeks of balancing dutiful shifts of family time with prolonged periods of PC gaming. From the look of Steam's player stats page, we're not alone. Steam has just broken the five million concurrent users barrier.
PC game download service Direct2Drive is becoming part of Gamefly, the US video game rental service. According to Direct2Drive’s site, they’re aiming to make the process as smooth as possible, but we’re a little concerned about what will happen to gamer’s precious Direct2Drive collections.
Worryingly, it seems that certain titles are available on Direct2Drive that aren’t available GameFly. Anno 2070, for instance, is available on Direct2Drive, but it’s not on Gamefly. Compounding this is the fact that Gamefly won’t be hosting Prima Guides, too.