Monday, February 12, 2007

Casual Games break traditional distribution models

Source article, Casual Encounters
What I enjoy here is not the whole rant about Casual Games (I find parts of it highly inaccurate - the original console videogames were, by depth and involvement of the player, casual games), but the hidden truth behind how they are distributed.

Because "Casual Games" are not considered traditional videogames, none of the traditional rules of sales and distributions apply. How hard has it been for digital distribution to be achieved with traditional videogames?

Having used Steam and Stardock, I can say that these are the only working examples I know of, and of the two Stardock is better for one crucial reason:

While Steam allows you to purchase a game online, you get jack with it. You just bought a digital game, and get no box, no manual, just the rights to download it. Your price for this displeasure? The same as going to the store, where Valve makes less money on the sale than they do online. This makes no sense to me.

Stardock, however, lets you buy the digital game for store price and for the low, low cost of shipping ($4, about equal to what you'd pay in local taxes), they'll also send you the box, complete with CDs, a manual - something nice to put on your shelf. Your price for this displeasure? Paying $34.95 instead of $32.04, or $2.90. I'd save myself $3 if I drove to a store, which is less than the difference between a sale at one store and not another (which usually averages between $5-$10 for videogames).

Casual games may yet teach hardcore games lessons in distrubtions, but only by way of force. I doubt tried and true distribution models will go quietly. There's still advertising, shelf space and all of that jazz to think about.

No comments: