David Perry Dukes Out Digital Games Debate with GameStop Execs

David Perry Dukes Out Digital Games Debate with GameStop Execs

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Acclaim's David Perry has written an open letter arguing against the GameStop executive army led by CEO Dan DeMatteo, who claims that downloadable games are a long way away from competing neck-to-neck with retail stores.

A few days ago, DeMatteo predicted in a GameDaily interview that digital distribution wouldn't surpass retail's relevance for another twelve years, citing piracy and console manufacturers cutting developer profits for downloadable content as the primary roadblocks.

Less than a day later, GameStop senior vice president of merchandising Bob McKenzie echoed DeMatteo's sentiments by saying to Edge Online, "We're not saying we won't be impacted at all by digital distribution, but the average customer isn't going to have the patience for a 72-hour download for a game on their system."

"We really think we provide a tremendous value to the customer by them coming into our stores. We offer a great experience with the expertise of our staff," added Executive Vice President Tony Bartel.

Acclaim Chief Creative Officer David Perry finds the GameStop lines to be an inaccurate representation of the growing market and wrote GameDaily a letter outlining the issue.

"He says we are 12-17 years away from downloading games digitally? I know he's got to pretend that digital distribution isn't relevant (or any kind of threat) to protect his stock price, but I guess Steve Jobs is miles off course then (100,000,000 digital downloads in the first 60 days of opening Apple's 'Digitally Distributed' App Store,)" argued Perry. "Or that iTunes is now the biggest music retailer in the world. There's tons of games I can download today, digitally, on console and PC. 12-17 years? Try right now."

Perry points to pricing as a pusher for the rapidly increasing digital game market.

"In reality, every game that goes 'digital' will drop in price for the consumer (when compared to today's system). 'Price' will always be a key part of the 'buy' decision for consumers, and removing fees for GameStop, Packaging Design, Packaging Materials, Manuals, Shipping, Insurance, Manufacturing, Distribution, In-Store Promotions, Co-Op Advertising, Returns, etc. will help consumers see attractive price drops," said Perry. "For publishers, removing first party fees to make custom expensive Blu-ray discs will be a nice price reduction also. And yes, as an industry we have no problem paying a distribution fee (as we are very used to that due to our relationship with GameStop)."

Will long download times hold down digital content? "Obviously, large data will get streamed as required, as that's how things work in a digital world. How can Apple get an HD movie to play in seconds? No 72 hour download required as he quotes. Also the vast majority of games are nowhere near 30GB anyway, and what about data compression? (Sigh.)," says Perry.

China acts as an active, successful example of downloadable content comprising a massive chunk of gaming revenues. Perry explained, "China is the living proof of this, where they have a non-existent console media business, and a thriving digitally downloaded industry. A digital distribution industry which grew 69.5% last year, dramatically faster than our retail industry."

He left GameStop a piece of advice: "If they want their company to still exist in 12-17 years, I'd go and buy Steam from Gabe Newell, which technically can't exist yet as Gabe is clearly 12-17 years ahead of the curve."

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Isn't Gabe throwing chairs around the lawn at the moment?

But Dave gets my vote. More "bitchfight" news please! ;)

I first read that headline as "David Duke Outs Digital Games Debate", which probably means I'm old and/or way sardonic.

Perry, of course, has a point; direct download is a market force right now, not in 12-17 years. Whether that'll mean the extinction of retail distribution or not is an entirely different matter.

-- Steve

It's also interesting to note that browser and flash based games are introducing a lot of new people to games, and they are distributed digitally. For new and casual game players digital distribution is what they will use first.

Boober the Pig:
It's also interesting to note that browser and flash based games are introducing a lot of new people to games, and they are distributed digitally. For new and casual game players digital distribution is what they will use first.

Agreed. A new generation of consumers is probably the most successful way to usher in any type of change. I think the only difference is that of price and game complexity. Maybe I'm not tuning into the right channels, but I seldom hear about people jumping from Bejeweled to Halo.

I don't know if writing an open letter was necessary, as the points for digital distribution have been laid out pretty well before, and I've no doubt GameStop knows the trouble brick-and-mortar stores are in (or will be in). They're just trying to save face.

CE-Oh-no-he-didn't!

Dave Perry's forecast: Partly bitchy with a chance of ree-aar!

Gee Nostradamus would have a hard time keeping up with these guys. I don't think much will change there will alwayz be a store with goods just as there will be a website to download from.

Who really cares which will have the larger market share in the distant future.

also what would you rather a game you can resell (if your into that sort of thing) or a key to 1 download with no resell ability. one reason i wont download games that im paying for is i purchased Phyconaughts on xbl and it was missing a crucial item and i could not advance any further in the game! i called xbox and they insisted i start the game over again with a fresh game save. I was near the end of the game and i will be damned if im going to play it all the way through to arrive at the same brick wall AGAIN!
Now why couldn't they offer just offer me the download again i paid for 1 full game instead a received 3/4 of a game and received no support. Now if i had purchased a disc i would of had a refund or exchange that day.

Captin Planet, that may not have been the result of a corrupt download to begin with. No code is perfect. Even when the download is good It may just be a bug in the software. Did you check gamefaqs to see if there was a cheat code that could get you around it? (also, I think Psychonauts is available for free on gametap right now)

Either way, many digital distribution services such as Wii Shop Channel, Steam, and Gametap do allow you to re-download any time.

Then again, the bandwidth issue gets me thinking. John Carmack has said they won't be offering a downloadable version of Rage and that it possibly won't even be released on the 360 since it can't fit one DVD. Now one game hardly makes a difference in all this, but Id has released some very influential engines in the past. If Tech 5 catches on megatextures may become the norm, at least for high-budget titles, and storage capacity and bandwidth will have to catch up again before digital distribution can work for them.

I'm not saying this is likely. I'm just throwing some speculation out there that I thought might be interesting.

""We offer a great experience with the expertise of our staff," added Executive Vice President Tony Bartel."

Gamestop: No; we don't have any copies of the game you want in stock. Would you like to order it?

The only reason digital downloads may be as far off as he claims is because publishers logically cannot support digital download services too heavily lest they run the risk of severely pissing off all the brick-and-mortar chains. I remember a lot of promises Gabe Newell made about Steam early on never came to fruition because once they tried to enact those plans places like Wal-mart threw a fit that they weren't being treated fairly.

 

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