He's best known for co-founding Xbox and leading the big money $375m buyout of UK studio Rare.
But now Ed Fries is looking at how digital distribution is upending the industry – and says retailers need to take note.
Talking to MCV as he joined online art content firm Mixamo, the man who helped Microsoft enter the console business said “digital distribution is the most important thing that’s happening to the industry right now”.
“It is opening up opportunities at price points that never existed before. And that means studios can live with smaller development teams,” he said.
“The thing about digital distribution is that everyone wants it – from the publishers to the developers, to the customers. Maybe not all the retailers – but almost everyone wants it, so even the smart retailers are looking at how they can rethink their business to adopt digital. You see things like GameStop buying online game portal Kongregate; that’s clearly a retail outlet seeing that the future is digital and moving to do something about it.
“Some of the retailers need to become like distributors to have a place in the future, and I just think the smart ones are seeding that path with digital.”
Mixamo, for which Fries is an advisor, offers an online database of ready-made art and animation content which developers can download for a fee.
Fries said the service is just one example of an overall convergence between traditional console games and emergent arenas like social networks including Facebook.