The games industry is already experiencing a big shift to digital as more people than ever are choosing to purchase and download their games instead of buying physical copies. But Rockstar Games parent company Take-Two thinks that the games industry will eventually be all-digital.
Speaking during the Credit Suisse 21st Annual Technology, Media, & Telecom Conference, Take-Two Interactive president Karl Slatoff said, “I think over the long-term, it will be 100% [digital].” While the Take-Two executive “can’t predict whether that’s five years, 10 years, or 20 years,” Slatoff suggested that it’s “probably less than 20 and maybe more than five, but I think it ultimately gets there.”
Slatoff admitted that “physical retail is still the majority of our business, and very important partners of ours” and Take-Two will do everything it can to “support that environment.” However, the executive recognized that it’s “out of our control” and that “whether we want it or not, it looks like it’s going to happen eventually.”
If the industry does go completely digital then players, retailers, and the companies that create the games will all be faced with fresh challenges. For example, retailers such as GameStop will be the hardest hit as players will be less inclined to go into stores and purchase new releases. Even the company’s used game business, including its used game rental service, will have to be shuttered if new consoles don’t include the ability to run physical media.
Meanwhile, those who make games may have to come up with new ways to promote their titles. Retailers are an important part of the marketing chain and getting the word out about new releases, but if the industry goes entirely digital promoting these games will get a lot harder. It’s much easier for gamers to overlook a square on a screen than it is for them to overlook a giant poster in a store.
As for the players themselves, it will mean that everyone will have to have faster Internet connections or it will take them days to download a single game. Because of a lack of used games, it could also mean that players are forced to pay more than they usually would to play a game that they’re interested in. It also means that sharing games by lending a physical copy to a friend or family member will be a thing of the past.
As the Take-Two executive notes, a 100% digital games industry could still be some years away yet. So hopefully this will ensure that everyone is ready for the day that games are no longer sold on discs, cartridges or any other physical form of media.