American McGee Predicts Real-World Retailers' Demise

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American McGee Predicts Real-World Retailers' Demise

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American McGee has stared into a crystal ball (or something) and has seen a future without physical stores.

American McGee, the man best-known for his dark games like Alice, Grimm and Alice: Madness Returns has recently opened up about where he sees industry retailers heading, and the outlook sounds pretty grim. If McGee's prediction comes true, real-world stores will be replaced by online retailers.

Speaking to IndustryGamers, McGee explained that places like Best Buy have turned into "nothing more than places to fond physical goods you're going to buy online anyway."

As a result, big chains will probably need to get rid of their physical locations:

"In the (not so?) distant future there wouldn't be much need for a bricks-and-mortar retailer. Why waste resources on a physical location and unreliable employees when the entire experience can be made sharper, cleaner and more entertaining in the virtual representation?"

Accordingly, McGee also spoke about how he believes other developers and publishers will probably take a note from casual game makers, most likely adopting free-to-play models. On top of all this, believes that smaller titles made on a faster development timetables would allow game makers to target larger audiences.

While digital distribution has definitely proved itself as a viable way to sell games, stating that physical stores are going to vanish seems more like wishful thinking than anything else. That said, retail chains are going to have to change their tactics if they want to compete with the cheaper prices and wider inventory selections of their online competitors, and it'll be interesting to see what the end result turns out to be (spoiler alert: GameStop's recent handling of Deus Ex: Human Revolution will not be the model everyone else mimics).

Source: IndustryGamers via GamesIndustry.biz

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Considering the fact that I buy all my games from retailers of physical copies, I sure hope he's wrong.

Sounds like a video game he'd make:
American McGee Presents: American McGee's Downfall of the Physical Medium, a Game by American McGee

I honestly hope he's wrong. Being in my 30s, I have a very, very hard time handing over cash for something that I don't get to physically hold in my hand. Whilst I have bought a few DLC items for games, those games were purchased in store, and I still have the pretty pretty boxes sitting in my gaming shelf. I've never bought a game proper from steam or any other digital medium, and I'm not going to either.

Buy a game from the shop, take it home and install, then be playing in a few minutes vs paying online, getting nothing in the physical world for it and then having to wait several hours or even days while my computer downloads my purchase? Hardcopy wins everytime, for my money at least.

No i disagree with you, theres probably some truth in what he says, as soon as sony and M$oft make a new console with a decent downloading service than physical retailing will start to get hit hard, hell most real pc gamers i know haven't bought a pc game in stores for years because both delivery and downloads are cheaper and more convenient.

(and to everyone decrying downloads yes boo hoo you don't have a good internet connection, news flash most other people do)

Physical stores are quickly loosing their significance. These days bonuses for buying the game are mostly digital, with the only thing in the box being the CD and the manual. Not to mention that digital stores are getting better and better all the time. Yes, yes, I know, there are some exceptions, as Skyrim and the Gamestop exclusive bonus.

However a statement like that is really dubious. Until next generation, I believe, when Microsoft and Sony would make a build in digital store for AAA titles, and make it painfully obvious how to use I can only take this with a grain of salt. The console market response is important in this case and that cannot be obtained at this point.

However if the PC market is any indication, build-in digital stores in PS4 and Xbox 720 are going to land a major blow on Brick & Mortar stores, especially if the companies responsible for said stores took the discount initiative as seriously as steam.

I dont know i think in the next 5 to 10 years the need for retailers might be gone. It is in fact a waste of resource to make all those boxes and CDs when you can just download em online. And bundle that with great services like Steam and Battle.net and there you go.

+The prices will be cheaper. U can always install the game and dont need to hoard the stuff around your house.

Maybe only make some collectors edition for the big fans but beyond that yeah i agree there shouldnt be a physical retail anymore.

Also the current retailers make most of their money from re-selling preowned games which dont make any $ to the developers anyway. So the industry wont lose much money off that.

It might not happen soon but the industry is going to get rid of them stores for sure.

sigh. I like steam, makes the whole business for me easier...but, if everyone starts a digital distribution system...what happens in the end when they get server problems, or just end their business. What happens with the games people own then? They can't get install them anew if they stopped with the digital distribution service.

And there's also the point of that not everyone has good internet, some even have a download restriction so they can only download a set amount each month....not a good thing to have only digital distribution then if a game is on 9GB and the customer only got 5GB a month =/

Gee, this guy is smart. You know, it's not like the kind of information that you'll find in IT books under the E-commerce section...Oh wait.

The end of physical stores doesn't mean the end of physical goods. Alas, we may see more stores like Argos or shops that showcase goods.

I don't remember the last time I bought a physical copy in real store. I buy my boxed games on zavvi and ebay because they are much cheaper. The only drawback is that I have to wait 7-10 days to get my game.

He isn't say hard-physical copies are going away, just retail distribution. I know 80% of my game purcashe are made via internet sites and posted to me (and often upto 40% cheaper then the retail price) Aprt from the odd in-store bonus and trade-in oppurtunity I reckon he is right.....

I read his statements not as a "demise of physical media" but "demise of physical stores". PC gamers haven't been able to buy games in stores for years anyway and console gamers are getting a more and more limited selection as well (50 boxes of "AAA game 713", 40 of "856" and 2 or 3 other games hidden in the back).

I've been buying both my physical and DL copies online since 2007 anyway, and there's going to be more and more people heading that way.

Eleuthera:
PC gamers haven't been able to buy games in stores for years anyway

I bought Dead Island at Best Buy on Saturday for the PC for $25 and there are plenty of PC games there. Where do you live that they've stopped having them?

Gee American McGee, what is your current business model? iPhone games and social networking games made using cheap Chinese labour? Distributed exclusively online and through app stores? I can see why you don't see the relevance of retail shops. I'm afraid I don't see the relevance of American McGee.

I don't see many PC games in shops anymore, and those I do are usually cheaper on Steam. I only tend to buy games from retail sellers that are able to cut their profi margins and compete with online prices. So maybe he has a point.

And I would listen to the creator of several awful (mediocre, at best) games because...?

therandombear:
sigh. I like steam, makes the whole business for me easier...but, if everyone starts a digital distribution system...what happens in the end when they get server problems, or just end their business. What happens with the games people own then? They can't get install them anew if they stopped with the digital distribution service.

And there's also the point of that not everyone has good internet, some even have a download restriction so they can only download a set amount each month....not a good thing to have only digital distribution then if a game is on 9GB and the customer only got 5GB a month =/

This is my biggest concern with an all digital gaming future, and he'll, with an all digital life. The services and goods are only as secure as the network, and in the information age, where a person can literally steal your entire life savings without ever having to leave their cheeto encrusted rooms, everything's about as secure as putting it in a safe made out of leaves.

The only way I can see the digital future working is when we really tighten up these security measures. In order for that to happen enough people have to be comfortable enough to trust their chosen distributor, which really won't happen until security is tightened. Here we see the main problem.

Despite the ease of access of digital media, physical media's still more of a safer choice, excluding DRM, when I buy a hard copy of a game and it stops working on me, I can usually figure out why that is. Plus there's the added tactile pleasure of having the actual object in your hands. Helps you know that it's your copy. With digital, your copy could stop working on the whims of the distributor, maybe they want you to pay more, maybe you badmouthed them on a forum, maybe they just don't like you. Any way, your copy's gone.

I'm terrified of the digital future and I hope a lot of these people are wrong when they say it's just around the corner. A large part of me feels that I'm fooling myself, but when it comes down to it, I'll fight to keep hard copies alive.

Dear Mr McGee, shut up and go back to working on your janked games.

Seriously escapist, this is not news. This is no more relevant than my gardeners opinion on the industry.
You want me to write down his thoughts on it for next weeks "news story"?

Anyway, not gonna happen. Internet is not reliable enough around the world for this to be a viable option. Plus I personally will not "lease" digital goods. If you are not willing to sell me a video game, on disk, with manual and box, then you can fuck right off.

Xan Krieger:
I bought Dead Island at Best Buy on Saturday for the PC for $25 and there are plenty of PC games there. Where do you live that they've stopped having them?

The Netherlands, general media stores (CD/DVD/Games) haven't had PC-games for years, game stores might have a few, but only the top-10 mega games of the moment (Modern warfare, Battlefield and the like)

Eleuthera:

Xan Krieger:
I bought Dead Island at Best Buy on Saturday for the PC for $25 and there are plenty of PC games there. Where do you live that they've stopped having them?

The Netherlands, general media stores (CD/DVD/Games) haven't had PC-games for years, game stores might have a few, but only the top-10 mega games of the moment (Modern warfare, Battlefield and the like)

That sucks, here in America most stores that sell games also sell PC games. However thanks to Steam the used PC game market is dead (Heavy Rain's developer might want to look into that).

Xan Krieger:
However thanks to Steam the used PC game market is dead (Heavy Rain's developer might want to look into that).

There never really was a PC used games market, PC games have always been too easy to copy, so even returning a game you couldn't get to run was impossible, as soon as the seal is broken you're stuck with it. (again in my personal experience)

First off, if retail chains like Best Buy, Wal-Mart, and Target go under--or simply switch to online only--like he says, the U.S. jobs market is going to take a bullet to the head and probably never recover (NOTE: He said Best Buy, not Game Stop or another video game only store. He's talking about everyone). For every "unreliable employee" out there, there are ten hard working ones who need the job, or simply want to work and do it well.
Second: online works great--until something goes wrong. Then, good luck trying to fix that problem. Perhaps it's different elsewhere, but at my store people prefer to deal with someone they can actually see--or even an actual person--when they have a problem. And don't get me started on online return centers. Yeah...not fun.
Finally (and this is just me speaking opinion), the day this happens, I'm betting a lot of people will be done with gaming. Owning a physical copy of the game is something I treasure a lot. I get great pride out of displaying my collections. You can still play the game if the company goes out of business, or gets hacked and has to shut down for a bit.

I doubt physical copies will disappear completely. There are those who don't like digital distribution, there are those who just like having physical copies, and the most important part, the uninformed. The people who don't have Steam because they don't really know about it, or the parents and relatives buying games for their children. Retail stores will always have a place. Hey, bookstores are still here, and I'm sure as hell never buying ebooks.

Last time I checked this isn't news. Many people have predicted a future where media will only be availible via digital distribution. So what makes American McGee so special to report on? Thats really all I am missing here.

What about collector's edition of games? Gamers love those. I will never switch to digital distribution. If retail ceases to exist, I'll cease to be a gamer. There is something special about having that box with the disc inside.

MercurySteam:
Considering the fact that I buy all my games from retailers of physical copies, I sure hope he's wrong.

The death of physical stores will NOT lead to the death of physical media it will just mean ordering from Amazon, Play.com or other internet stores.

You have to remember something. There's a sizable portion of the world that either doesn't have broadband or don't want it. I honestly doubt business are going to downsize to accommodate ~60% of any given area.

mad825:
Gee, this guy is smart. You know, it's not like the kind of information that you'll find in IT books under the E-commerce section...Oh wait.

The end of physical stores doesn't mean the end of physical goods. Alas, we may see more stores like Argos or shops that showcase goods.

see i think whilst its true that media such as films and games and music will predominantly be sold online, there is still call for clothes,furniture,specialty and nick nack shops. Mainly because their things that seeing in the flesh holds value for.

And strangly enough hmv is still going, who would have called that, years on after i-tunes came around and the disk is still here.This process will take a while and we shouldnt be expecting it anytime soon.

CarrionRoc:
You have to remember something. There's a sizable portion of the world that either doesn't have broadband or don't want it. I honestly doubt business are going to downsize to accommodate ~60% of any given area.

it won't be the businesses decision, if and when it becomes unprofitable to own a videogame store they will start closing. And having seen what steam did to pc retailing, i can EASILY see it coming.

Isn't this about the same thing 90% of the game industry has been trying to 'predict' for the last half-decade or so?

Not counting my psone games, I have only one retail game, which was bought long ago, so yeah, I dont care if it happens. Simply few clicks on steam to become owner is just way too easy and comfortable.

Although I kind of support the death of retail gaming due to the small stores always failing that have knowledgeable friendly staff, good prices and good return policies and are replaced with the Big stores like GAME where the staff are rude and everything is overpriced I welcome this.

However that being said I worry about complete digital distribution because it could all gone in a Flash, what if your STEAM account is stolen or banned, what if Valve go bankrupt and Steam is shut down. This worries me to the point where I've actually re-bought some of my Steam games retail (Dark Messiah for example) so I can play them again in the future if anything happens to STEAM.
Also a problem with Digital Downloads is that I have bad internet so downloading a game can take 6 hours or more when it would take 10 minutes to install of a disc.

interestingly a comment was made the other week by paradox interactive that now digital distribution makes up 70% of their sales.

it is a trend thats going to happen more and more and eventually i do see physical media being phased out entirely. im also waiting for the day when games are no longer installed as such by are completely streamed media. people complain about always on DRM. to me its a step in the streaming direction and of course it will be to "combat piracy and stop 2nd hand gaming"

Gotta disagree with you Mr.McGee!

Digital distribution is not a viable option for me, it'd take a week for me to download a 5gb game and thats excluding the cost of bandwidth in my country. Also dislike not having a physical copy of something I purchased like someone else metioned earlier. The games I buy usually get delivered to me at work release day morning and I really have no problem with that.

Don't get me wrong I think Digital Distribution is great but it will never replace retail. Some of us just prefer physical copies.

kurokenshi:
Gotta disagree with you Mr.McGee!

Digital distribution is not a viable option for me, it'd take a week for me to download a 5gb game and thats excluding the cost of bandwidth in my country. Also dislike not having a physical copy of something I purchased like someone else metioned earlier. The games I buy usually get delivered to me at work release day morning and I really have no problem with that.

Don't get me wrong I think Digital Distribution is great but it will never replace retail. Some of us just prefer physical copies.

Please try to understand what he says.

Physical stores will disappear and I couldn't agree more. Since I live in Germany where according to politicians I can't decide what games I can play I have to buy many of them online. And what do I buy online? A physical copy.

bahumat42:
(and to everyone decrying downloads yes boo hoo you don't have a good internet connection, news flash most other people do)

Dude, there's absolutely no reason to be such a douchebag. You have a good internet connection, good for you. That doesn't make the gripes of those who don't live in an area where such connections are rare wrong, or bad, or anything else. In fact, you bragging about yours makes you an arsehole. News flash, you're not special because there's better internet connections available in your area. Wish my parents still paid for my 'net like yours do.

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