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

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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