Has Microsoft killed boxed games?
| 30 March 2012
Take a good look at your games collection. Admire the cover art, blow some dust off some of the less popular titles, pop open a case, pull out a disc and slot it into the machine. It might be something you do every day but it could be a thing of the past before you know it.
Two things have just happened in the games industry, could have a massive impact on how you’ll buy and play your games in the future.
First off, there’s Microsoft. At the start of March the tech corp jetted a few games developers to its Seattle base and made them sign a very, very strict confidentiality agreement, explaining that everything they were about to be told was not to leave the room.
Well, as it turns out, the hush-hush agreement didn’t work. Because no sooner had the developers left the room than the word was out. And the big news? The next Xbox, due in 2013, will not have a disc drive.
Let that sink in for a minute… No disc drive. No games, as we know and love them. All titles will be available through digital download and there may be a ‘solid-state’ interchangeable card, a bit like an SD card found in many digital cameras, for gamers without broadband.
When you think about it, digital downloads have been creeping up for some time. PC gamers have the excellent STEAM service and Sony’s latest Vita handheld relies heavily on users downloading games directly. Xbox Live has really come into its own with the release of Xbox Live exclusive games to download. It’s a logical step for games to no longer be a ‘physical’ item.
But this is very bad news for shops that sell boxed copies of games. The GAME group is in a terrible mess at the moment. With hundreds of stores closed and thousands of staff having to head to the job centre, it is a really bad time to be a retailer in the games business. The retail group didn’t just own GAME but also the GameStation chain and the online gameplay.co.uk website. It could soon be very difficult to buy a brand new game on the High Street, with most people having to head to supermarkets or order online.
So take a good look at that shelf full of boxed games. Through a combination of console developments and changes in our buying habits, games as we know them may not be around for much longer. And even if they were, actually finding a shop that sells them could be a tougher challenge!