THQ: Transition from boxed to digital is underway

Cloud gaming will prove a positive development for consumers, publishers and developers, THQ CEO Brian Farrell has told an audience at the Cloud Gaming USA conference in San Jose.

"The box, ship and done model is transitioning to: observe, measure, and modify," he said, as reported by GamesIndustry. "Games [are becoming] a service model where direct consumer feedback allows the ability to operate in this always on, always connected environment.

"Our games are always on and our players are always connected. We have the opportunity to interact with players in new ways that can be reactive to their desires, play habits, and buying habits.

"We intend to create an online digital ecosystem with the consumer that keeps them interested for almost a year, perhaps even longer. And we expect most of our large console games going forward will extend the base experience with DLC packs. Things like online in-game storage, and consumables and other online items that will go on for at least a year post-release."

THQ recently dabbled with these changing models with the release of MX vs ATV Alive. The game itself was budget priced at 29.99, with the focus being placed on post-release premium DLC.

The experiment was a failure, however.

"What we found was unlike free to play, $39.99 just wasn’t low enough to drive a big enough install base to push the level of DLC we had initially hoped for,” Farrell conceded.

THQ will try an amended version of this model by following the release of the full-price title Saints Row 3, which will see an avalanche of DLC released in the weeks and months after it hits shelves.

But once the industry has got its head around this brave new world, the benefits will be widespread, Farrell believes.

[These changes] will result in a lower cost for the hardware manufacturer, which will result in a lower cost to consumers and therefore a lower entry point, thus driving more mass market adoption,” he argued.

[There will be] no physical goods cost for game makers. No inventory, no markdowns, and all the money spent by the consumer would go to the developer or publisher."

Note the absence of retail from that equation.

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