Digital distribution has had a profound impact on the games industry, the effects of which we are just starting to see. Not only has it revolutionised the way in which we buy and consume media, but it has effectively made global markets a much easier place to do business.
Nearly all of our customers buy and play games through some form of digital distribution platform. In a recent survey of our 600k-strong community, over 85 per cent buy games through this method. This shows the enthusiasts have strongly embraced digital and it stands to reason that these advocates will be encouraging others to follow.
Such has been the rise of our customers using digital distribution at our events, that we now run a local Steam content server so that they can download games and updates fast enough to play there and then. At insomnia40, 2,000 gamers downloaded in excess of 28,900 gigabytes.
The convenience of this kind of distribution is one of the key reasons for its rise and why it will continue to be successful. Consumers no longer have to leave their homes to shop for games, worry about items being out of stock or queue to purchase them; content is always there and often cheaper as a result.
The rising culture of content on demand has been strengthened through digital distribution and is something that consumers now expect from other products and services. Renting movies on an iPad rather than from Blockbuster or watching TV on iPlayer are examples of this changing trend.
Games are becoming much more widely accepted as a part of every day life. The taboo of having a night in with a few friends playing on the Xbox is rapidly eroding. Gaming has become very social. You only have to look at the rise of Facebook as a platform for games to see this.
THE FUTURE OF PUBLIC GAMING
The appeal of live gaming events arose during a time when home connectivity was poor, with 56k modems and horrendous latency marring the gameplay.
With the rise of broadband, many said this would sound the death-knell on people wanting to get together for live events, with the ability to get a near-LAN experience from home. On the contrary, our live events have gone from strength to strength and it is clear the social aspect is something that will never truly be replaced by technology.
Whilst digital distribution has revolutionised how we buy and consume media, its impact on the gaming industry has gone one stage further. Digital platforms employ social features to simplify the playing of games, through the use of groups, friends lists and community tools.
However, despite the ease and convenience of playing games online at home, there will always be a place for
live gaming festivals such as the i-Series. Nothing beats the atmosphere of thousands of like-minded people at the same festival.
The pace of change has arguably never been greater and our industry, as creative and agile as it is, must continue to adapt and innovate to be successful.
BIO: CRAIG FLETCHER
Having founded Multiplay in 1997, Fletcher continues to directly drive the family-run business. He has been instrumental in the evolution of Multiplay’s flagship gaming events, such as the M Festival and the i-Series.