The Video-Game Industry's Big Digital Shift

Peter Raad, executive director of The Guildhall at SMU, talks about the emerging trend of digital distribution of video games.

By Ken Sweet

While it is not making the transition as fast as its media counterparts, the video game industry has begun a transition to digital distribution of content which could impact what consumers purchase and play in the coming years.

That may be one of the big themes coming out of this year’s E3 Expo, the huge trade show featuring makers of computer and video game products which kicks off in Los Angeles next week.

By bypassing the retail outlets like GameStop, Toys R Us and Best Buy, console makers and software publishers have found ways to distribute their content directly to the consumer. It has allowed what some executives have said might be the beginning of a content renaissance in an industry that has come to rely heavily on big-budget sequels of popular and safe franchises. . .

While the console market remains dominated by big-name hits, smaller developers slowly entered the market through the digital channels. It has also provided a bit of a “breath of fresh air” in the way of new workable content, publishing executives said, helping the industry slowly transition away from the $30 million behemoth software title. . .

“Newly-minted developers aren’t singularly focused on getting hired by the big-name studios anymore,” said Peter Raad, head of Southern Methodist University’s Guildhall, a program that trains developers for the industry. With a need to produce exclusively big-budget hard-core games waning, digital content has allowed lower-cost games to be available to consumers, or even extend the shelf lives of older franchises. 

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