As developers, publishers, and retailers continue struggle to adapt to the age of the internet, diverse attempts at digital download services are being promoted by companies throughout the industry. Services like Steam and XBLA are already well-ensconced, while others are just segueing into the post-physical-media era. Earlier this year, GameStop announced its digital download and cloud computing services, clearly an effort to evolve before going the way of Blockbuster. Meanwhile, companies like Telltale Games link have developed their entire business model around digital distribution
Now, in an effort to distinguish itself in the digital market, EA Sports is offering what it calls a "Season Ticket" to fans of its big five sports titles - hockey, soccer, golf, and pro- and college-league American football. Twenty-five dollars a year gets you the ability to download these games three days before their release from retailers across North America - that's five dollars a game, divided out...about the same as a rental in the 90s. There's a catch though: The
rental download only lasts for those three days. Afterward you will still have to go to a retailer to pick up a physical copy. Even without the overhead involved in producing and distributing physical media, it seems $5 per game is a bit too good to be true.
Why, you might ask, would EA not go whole-hog with this service? Why wouldn't they, if you've already downloaded the full game, just charge you for it and be done with it, trip to the physical store be damned? Perhaps EA just isn't ready to cut companies like Wal Mart and GameStop out of the loop just yet. By testing the waters with a smaller service like this, it can work out some of the pragmatic kinks in its long-term digital distribution plans (from bandwith and server issues, to whether it's worth it to do this in-house or better off to outsource it to a company like Gamestop) without fully flipping the bird to the retailers that EA still relies on to pay the bills.
Speculation aside, fans of EA's premiere sports titles now have an opportunity to test drive the latest titles before the rest of us.
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[via: Reuters Canada]