Back when the Internet was a telephone line
and a lot fuzzy sounds (remember when 56k was fast?) and hard drives rarely passed a GB in size, if someone had told us
that the music industry could thrive on downloads alone, we would have laughed in their face (and waited 20 minutes to
snag that "ultra rare" demo version of Nirvana
's Polly off of Napster). Of course, within the last
10 years, technology has grown by leaps and bounds--hard drives can hold hundreds of GBs, processors have hastened from
900MHz to 3.2GHz, and you can download a song within a matter of seconds. Apple's iTunes music store recently celebrated
its 1 billionth song downloaded, its video service is thriving, and its only a matter of time before all forms of
entertainment are a mouse click (and credit card transaction) away.
The Vice President of Electronic Arts
Europe, Dr. Jens Uwe Intat (pictured), foresees that shift occurring within the next ten years. According to him,
"CDs, DVDs and boxed games will be as antiquated as cassette tapes and vinyl records." A bold statement from
a executive in one of the gaming industry's biggest players. If this is an indication of EA's commitment to digital
distribution, then it more or less ensures the future of downloadable video games.
There is one caveat to
his words, however, that coincide with the spirit of any business. Dr. Intant laments how Apple has been able to keep
their song prices at $0.99 per song--a low figure that angers many of the corporate suits in the music business. The
iTunes music store has a monopoly on downloadable music, which in this case benefits the consumer. Dr. Intant,
however, notes that with so many different consoles available, a monopoly would be impossible, and publishers could
have more leverage on the prices of their titles.
Understandable, but it could be very aggravating if EA
decides to price Madden 2009
at, say, $65.