Microsoft’s (MSFT) latest Xbox Live update includes the first edition of Games on Demand, the Xbox equivalent of the iPhone App Store. This means that Xbox users will begin to be able to purchase, download, and install full games over the Internet, without having to go out to the store and buy a physical disc.
The idea is that this convenience factor will, over time, eventually replace the game disc. And by facilitating the game download, Microsoft stands to get a piece of the action that it wasn’t getting before.
If that happens, the video game industry as it stands today will be severely disrupted: There will be less need to display games in stores like Best Buy and Toys R Us; a smaller used video game market — bad news for Gamestop and Amazon; and probably fewer rentals, too — bad news for Blockbuster and GameFly.
But this won’t happen overnight. Many home Internet connections aren’t speedy enough to download games any faster than a trip to the local store. And game downloads make popular activities trickier, like renting, sharing, and re-selling games.
Still, just as movies will eventually go mostly digital, we expect games will, too. This is the beginning.
More about Games on Demand from Gizmodo:
Games on Demand looks pretty great; you’ll be able to download full games, including manuals, and you’ll have access to them forever, meaning free re-downloads in case you delete them. The new Netflix options include “movie parties” that sound sort of awkward, wherein you and a bunch of other avatars sit around and share digital popcorn (we are not making this up, see the press release below). But it’ll also give you more control over your Instant Watch queue and supposedly give you smooth playback even with a finicky Internet connection. No luck yet on the Facebook, Twitter, Last.fm, or Zune video additions we were promised at E3.
And here’s Microsoft’s explanation:
Games on Demand— Please note that Games on Demand will be available in the preview beginning early August.
Enjoy 24 x 7 access to a growing online library of popular full game titles on Xbox LIVE whenever you want them, in the comfort of your living room.
· Purchase Options – Browse and download a great selection of full Xbox 360 games using Microsoft Points, direct debit, or credit card.
· Game Manuals – Game manuals for Games on Demand titles can be viewed, downloaded or printed on Xbox.com.
· It’s Yours Forever! – As with other Xbox LIVE content, Games on Demand titles are linked to your Xbox LIVE account, so you can delete and re-download anything you have already purchased to the same console or another console.
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