If you look around gaming websites right about now, a hot topic is the prevalence of big AAA games launching with significant problems. One of the more underlooked websites — Gamesindustry.biz, seems to pin the problem almost entirely on retail. I think at the very least we might be headed for a major conflict between the retail model and how video games are made these days, if we aren’t already in one.
PC games have more or less always been like this, but console games have gone through a transition in terms of how they develop and evolve. Before, most console gamers probably thought of each game as sort of like a movie or a book — it has a release date, comes out, and that’s it. That’s thinking of games as essentially pieces of media. Video games today with launch issues, patches, and long-tail communities, are revealing what they really always were — software. And modern software doesn’t neatly fit into a retail-focused model. Continue reading