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The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Video game re-sellers are adapting to digital downloads

Video games are everywhere. Anyone who owns a smartphone, tablet, computer or gaming console has access to countless video games and a few ways of getting them. Going out to a video game store used to be the only way to buy a new game, but with the advent of Internet gaming, a player can pay for and download a new game in seconds. How is this affecting local video game retailers?

Randy Grant, a manager at PrePlayed on Mineral Point Road, said the only reason he might be concerned about digital game downloads affecting the industry is if new games start requiring single-use codes to play a game from a disc.

“The next generation of consoles are safe, but the generation after that is gearing towards that with downloadable content codes sold with new releases,” Grant said. “We don’t carry computer games because of that. It’s pointless to carry PC games because after the code is used, it becomes a useless disc.”

“Everyone fears that next generation consoles are going to be digital distribution only or have some kind of lockout that will not allow you to play a pre-owned disc on them,” said William McLoughlin, a GameStop employee. “If this turns out to be true, it spells very bad news for GameStop because the majority of our profit is in the buying and selling of games from our customers.”

McLoughlin continued, saying GameStop is heavily leveraging themselves into mobile gaming. “When I first started there it was still just video games, consoles and accessories,” he said. “Now we sell iPods, iPads, headphones, tablets; you name it.”

Derek Johnson, an avid gamer and assistant professor in the department of communication arts, suggests this transition is not limited to the video game industry.

“In terms of CDs, people are increasingly downloading things rather than buying it, and just like the DVD that was a big market and now has sort of switched to a downloading model,” Johnson said. “Unlike listening to music, playing games has in many forms been connected to being online so gaming is going to lead the way in digital media.”

Johnson thinks some of the reasons publishers are interested in digital media are that it is convenient for both and prevents the publisher from having to produce and distribute solid copies, which adds to the cost. In some cases, video game clients like Steam and Green Man Gaming will discount the price of a game and pass on those production savings to consumers.

Johnson does not seem concerned that digital game downloads will put resellers out of business any time soon.

“With the new generation of consoles, it’s rumored that there won’t be backwards compatibility,” Johnson suggested. “Every time we go another generation it becomes harder to play old games and harder to get old games.”

As is the norm for technological innovation, it seems impossible to predict the future.

“I don’t know if video game re-sellers are going to go away, but they will certainly change in terms of the function that they play,” Johnson said. For now, we can only wait to find out what is in store for the video game industry in Madison.

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