If you’ve been looking at the trends of technology recently, you’ll have noticed that DLC (Downloadable Content) has taken off significantly in the past ten years or so, especially thanks to the success of current generation consoles. But there’s a drawback to all this DLC and the need for some games or consoles that rely heavily on the internet. I’m not here to bash DLC or where things are going, but giving my opinion on where things are headed in the next ten to twenty years.
DLC, especially for big games is just not feasable in my opinion right now, especially with the internet infrastructure in North America. Small in-game DLC and firmware patches are fine, but for most people, downloading big 5-40GB games multiple times in a month is just not a viable option as data caps and download speeds are nowhere near enough to keep up with the demand. I’m sure the horrible 4mbps down and 0.5 mbps up with low montly data caps in the 20-60GB range that many of us get in Canada is enough to say that with current infrastructure, that going all DLC and ditching discs would deter sales of both consoles and games to consumers. If DLC is the way to go, many places in the world will need to ante up their internet speeds and data caps!
Many of us remember the PSN debacle that happened about a year ago that locked out access to PS3 and PSP users from the online store and much of the online service. The incident was dubbed the “ApocalyPS3” by many gamers, and some poked fun of it by saying the PS3 does everything… except online! Jokes aside, having servers and services so closely tied together like that can have an adverse effect on gaming as some games were rendered unplayable, even if their offline components weren’t tethered to an online server. This is a major problem and issue that I think should be addressed in future iterations of consoles and console firmware. And I know that these issues are not always the corporations fault with outside threats like hackers, but I think that there is a need to clear up some kinks in these services to making them more secure.
I’m sure that most of us borrow or lend games or even buy used copies of games. DLC would mean that this won’t be happening as a game would be tied to a console or account. This may lead to lower sales and possibly lower rates of piracy, but it would mean that less people would want to take the risk in buying an unknown or new game. The used game industry, in my opinion, is a gateway to discovering new titles and franchises that many gamers may not have otherwise had the chance to try out. I’m sure if games had a guest pass to let friends try out a game to promote it, that could work as well.
Some games and consoles need to be constantly connected to the internet to work. OnLive and Diablo 3 are prime examples. I am aware that OnLive relies on cloud computing and Diablo 3 relies on the internet to help prevent cheaters. But here’s the main problem I have. No internet means no gaming on these types of platforms. I know its a small problem for some people, but its a hard pill to swallow when reliable internet access may not be available in some places when you want to play. I’m all for having games that need an internet connection to deter cheaters to do a spot check like what Valve does with their games and you can play offline for several days if internet becomes an issue.
So to conclude, even though going all digital is going to be the future, there are many issues that need to be taken care of before it will really kill off physical copies of games. And as always, there will be those like me who will reminisce about the days gone by where discs and cartridges were king.