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Microsoft Explains Why It Doesn't Release Titles Digitally on Launch Day

By - Source: Joystiq | B 29 comments

The Xbox 360 doesn't release titles digitally on day one. Here's why.

Looking at the pattern of how media consumption has changed over the past decade, it's pretty obvious that digital is king… or is going to be, very soon. Yet, while the rest of the gaming world is making a quick transition over to digital, Microsoft insists on not selling digital versions of 360 games on launch day, which seems a bit backwards considering all its competitors have already made the switch.

But, according to Xbox Games on Demand Senior Business Manager Erik Yeager, there's a reason for it. "We have a lot of strong partnerships with retailers," said Yeager. "We really need them to do a lot for us. They're the ones out there selling the consoles, selling the peripherals and, in this time, we're trying to figure out how to fit that in to the whole digital landscape shift. We're just taking a bit of a measured pace with it.

"We really strongly believe it's important to have these retail partnerships and the ability to sell our console is the most critical thing for us. If you don't sell the console, you can't sell anything else."

Yeager did point to the fact that Xbox Games on Demand have slowly decreased the lag time between retail release and digital release for 360 games. Whatever the case, it seems that Microsoft already has this tension between retail and digital figured out for Durango if recent rumors prove correct. Not too long ago, VGLeaks leaked some screenshots that are allegedly of the Durango dev kit. According to these, Durango will be always-online and pack a large hard drive of unspecified size to accommodate an install of all on-disc games to the hard drive, after the disc is no longer necessary. It seems that this switchover to always-online means that game releases will be day-one for both digital and retail on Microsoft's next-gen console.

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  • 16 Hide
    getochkn , March 28, 2013 9:10 AM
    I would also think digital downloads on day one will just overload servers, make it harder for people to connect and then bitch online.
Other Comments
  • 16 Hide
    getochkn , March 28, 2013 9:10 AM
    I would also think digital downloads on day one will just overload servers, make it harder for people to connect and then bitch online.
  • -5 Hide
    jhansonxi , March 28, 2013 9:18 AM
    getochknI would also think digital downloads on day one will just overload servers, make it harder for people to connect and then bitch online.

    QoS and dynamic bandwidth/server alloction can prevent that problem, at least on their end. Your ISP may still have problems.

    Eventually retail software is going to disappear. The future of retail hardware is more difficult to predict. Internet vendors have much less overhead costs and their customers often avoid paying sales tax (and ignore "use" tax liabilities).
  • -6 Hide
    brandonjclark , March 28, 2013 9:40 AM
    "Eventually retail software is going to disappear." NEVER going to happen.
  • 6 Hide
    tranzz , March 28, 2013 10:06 AM
    "QoS and dynamic bandwidth/server alloction can prevent that problem, at least on their end. Your ISP may still have problems."

    Ask EA how that went for them recently
  • 9 Hide
    Murissokah , March 28, 2013 10:11 AM
    brandonjclark"Eventually retail software is going to disappear." NEVER going to happen.


    While I agree that there is space for hard copies of software, as is the case with collectors' edition items, the bulk of software purchases should always be digital.

    It just doesn't make sense to go through the trouble of burning a copy, creating art for the box, manufacturing a box, distributing the box and leaving it on the shelves so maybe someone will buy. And when someone does buy it, they will install the software and then download everything again since its largely outdated. Sending the software from the manufacturer to the user is much more straightforward and economically viable.
  • 5 Hide
    vittau , March 28, 2013 10:21 AM
    brandonjclark"Eventually retail software is going to disappear." NEVER going to happen.

    NEVER say never.
  • -2 Hide
    mortsmi7 , March 28, 2013 10:30 AM
    MurissokahWhile I agree that there is space for hard copies of software, as is the case with collectors' edition items, the bulk of software purchases should always be digital. It just doesn't make sense to go through the trouble of burning a copy, creating art for the box, manufacturing a box, distributing the box and leaving it on the shelves so maybe someone will buy. And when someone does buy it, they will install the software and then download everything again since its largely outdated. Sending the software from the manufacturer to the user is much more straightforward and economically viable.

    I guess all those people still on dial-up are SOL then.
  • 9 Hide
    ddpruitt , March 28, 2013 10:44 AM
    brandonjclark"Eventually retail software is going to disappear." NEVER going to happen.


    People will NEVER stop paying for cable

    People will NEVER stop buying CDs

    People will NEVER need more than 640Kb

    Personal computers will NEVER catch on

    So how's that never working out for you?
  • 1 Hide
    jhansonxi , March 28, 2013 10:58 AM
    tranzz"QoS and dynamic bandwidth/server alloction can prevent that problem, at least on their end. Your ISP may still have problems."Ask EA how that went for them recently
    That's a solvavle technical problem. I don't think EA sets the standard for large-scale IT. If anything, they're a counter-example.
  • -1 Hide
    gm0n3y , March 28, 2013 11:01 AM
    I can see how this makes sense for M$. By waiting one day to release a digital download of a game they give a decent boost to retail sales of that game, which makes the retailers happy. In exchange for this, they will (or can be persuaded to) give the xbox better visibility than its competitors, especially since they will be selling more xbox games (as per above) than the others. It's really a win/win. And how many people really care that much about getting a game the moment it is released? And for those that do, they are going to buy the game anyway, so M$ still gets their money.
  • -4 Hide
    Murissokah , March 28, 2013 11:02 AM
    mortsmi7I guess all those people still on dial-up are SOL then.


    If those people on dial-up could afford to buy retail software, they wouldn't be on dial-up.
  • 1 Hide
    jhansonxi , March 28, 2013 11:02 AM
    mortsmi7I guess all those people still on dial-up are SOL then.
    I know people who got rid of their desktop PC because they use their smartphone or tablet for everything. Likely their PC was budget model and their Internet options were dial-up or satellite, but with cellular Internet bandwidth increasing even in rural areas it suffices for many casual gamers.
  • 0 Hide
    mobrocket , March 28, 2013 11:09 AM
    ddpruittPeople will NEVER stop paying for cablePeople will NEVER stop buying CDsPeople will NEVER need more than 640KbPersonal computers will NEVER catch onSo how's that never working out for you?


    People will NEVER say NEVER whatever they do
  • 6 Hide
    mindless728 , March 28, 2013 11:09 AM
    MurissokahIf those people on dial-up could afford to buy retail software, they wouldn't be on dial-up.


    do you not realize that there are still people that live in areas where the only thing available to then is dial-up or satellite internet, it sometimes has nothing to do with money
  • 1 Hide
    jhansonxi , March 28, 2013 11:10 AM
    MurissokahIf those people on dial-up could afford to buy retail software, they wouldn't be on dial-up.
    I have friends that can't afford cable/DSL so they just use a laptop and public WiFi for downloads. Obviously that has limits for multiplayer games but it works for them. It also saves them $50 a month they can then spend on games. They just can't afford both high-speed Internet and good games.
  • 2 Hide
    agentbb007 , March 28, 2013 11:13 AM
    If everyone keeps getting rid of retail pretty soon there will be no jobs and no one will be able to buy their digital copies.
  • 4 Hide
    rawoysters , March 28, 2013 11:49 AM
    MurissokahIf those people on dial-up could afford to buy retail software, they wouldn't be on dial-up.


    Most people are not still on dial up because they can't afford broadband. It is a matter of logistics, being in a place (too rural, etc.) where they simply cannot get broadband.
  • 0 Hide
    infernocy , March 28, 2013 1:08 PM
    i dont think cars wants to fell into rivers or into shops again
  • 0 Hide
    DRosencraft , March 28, 2013 2:04 PM
    This makes sense. Most people don't buy games day one anyway, so postponing the release of the digital version only hurts the ultra-hyped gamers who absolutely hate the idea of ever not being one of the first to play it. I doubt there are very many who don't but a game only because it has a delayed digital release. It still makes a lot of sense to support brick-and-mortar stores since whether it's cost, location, or whatever, there are a lot of people who don't have the internet speed or latency to download files of the size of some games. My internet is only 10Mbps, and it took nearly two hours to download a demon for Dead Space 3. This is the fastest internet connection in the area for a residential home. Fat chance of doing something like that regularly, eating up the entire house's internet access over several hours for just one game.
  • 1 Hide
    LightningStryk17 , March 28, 2013 2:43 PM
    Just look at the PC gaming section at BestBuy.

    I remember when they had 4 shelves or so of PC games alone at my local best buy, now its down to a half shelf with basically only Blizzard titles and the odd EA AAA title.

    Its not hard to draw a conclusion that as consoles start releasing more and more games for digital distribution that a similar thing will happen to console games as well.
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