Thursday, April 13, 2006

Yes, I am that lazy. And something about a long tail.

So before I scurried off to a HOA meeting tonight, I bought and started the download of the new Tomb Raider game at Direct2Drive. I just got home and the game is already on my computer. How deliciously convenient is that?! I paid, I downloaded, I'm done.

Direct2Drive is an online game store that, as the name implies, only deals with a digital distribution model. This is the fourth time I've purchased from D2D. The first few times, I got some older not quite top ten titles. Now, they not only have Tomb Raider but also Oblivion, probably the top two titles out right now.

I'm going to chalk this up as more evidence that it's only a matter of time before the retail guys have to pack it up. Once all the latest titles become available in this format, there's really no reason to go buy a box, unless you really want that manual you never read anyway. No more fighting for shelf space also means that there's less pressure and costs for publishers. Which then means that more innovative titles might get a chance.

I don't know if you guys have heard about the phenomenon going on with iTunes. Basically, a lot of labels are making a lot of money on the long tail. Imagine a sales chart where your top songs/albums have lots of sales and the line is high up there. Then the line slopes down gradually, creating a long tail. The tail is mostly made up of singles that people buy, still popular but that would never have been sold at retail. It also includes obscure and up and coming songs by new artists.

Once games go digital, we can expect to see the same phenomenon. Titles like Tomb Raider and Oblivion will establish the market but the long tail is going to support a lot of cool content. I can't wait.

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