Digital Distribution Wars: Breakdown
Valve, Electronic Arts and Gamestop. Just three of the big companies fighting over the digital distribution of games. But what does this mean for you as a consumer?
The immediate effect for you is that you can get games cheaper. Some people are skeptical about the benefits of this. On that note, let's go down the evidence for this:
* Once EA Origin rumors were totally confirmed and it was a sure thing, Valve went full swing on deals. Now we have daily deals, and sales on sales. Sometimes even 3 layers of Steam sales.
* Electronic Arts is offering much better deals than they would in brick and mortar shops. On top of that, you can even play the Battlefield 3 Beta for free by downloading Origin. Not even the biggest companies can avoid competition.
* Desura offers huge support for developers themselves. They have a huge amount of tools for mod developers and funding for designers. If this interests you, check out more here: alpha funding on Desura.
Those are just a few of the benefits we have seen thus far. All these competitors and many more are jockeying for position to sell you games. But what about detractors who say competition is bad? Well let us see what has happened here:
* Valve and EA have had some tension, with EA pulling some games from Steam and not allowing the BF3 beta on Steam. It seems very unlikely that BF3 will ever be on Steam.
* A large number of other publishers are offering deals that are less stellar. Poor selections of games and poor effort categorize these competitors. Most competitors are not like this, but it is a problem when people try to grab market space.
* It is mildly annoying that you may have to run multiple distribution services if you want the best prices.
So that is the war so far. Overall I would have to judge that consumers are coming out better rather than worse. And we can all agree that a monopoly by a large company would be a terrible thing. We will keep you informed on future developments in this area, because the competition only heats up from here.