Brace yourselves, storekeepers: Fischer asserts that the interplay between online and physical retail means that digital gets to ‘premiere’ the riskier or more out-there ideas first. Bricks and mortar is just too hostile an environment for quirky content.
He’s not wrong. Whether you have heard of Bonsai Barber or Super Meat Boy or not, these indie games wouldn’t have the word-of-mouth-driven affection amongst online-savvy gamers if locked in a traditional publishing and distribution deal.
And next week the digital issue get even hotter with the arrival of Sony’s PSPgo. While the PSP-3000 and UMD releases are still on the menu, the console’s arrival is an important, if quiet (Sony’s marketing is deliberately ‘targeted’ at older gamers) moment for the industry.
There is appreciable retail scepticism towards the latest PlayStation, however.
Consoles used to be sold at almost profit-less price points with the understanding that punters would roll back again and again to buy software, which is where the margins are. With the exception of consumers shelling out on the occasional carry case or peripheral, PSPgo completely changes the conversation with consumers.
But bitch and moan all you like: you can’t fight the internet. Retailers need to find their place in the evolving market, or face having reduced power in the years ahead.