Chris Lewis, the regional vice president of Xbox in Europe, has spoken out about the relationship between boxed games and downloadable content. Speaking about the recent sale of Elder Scrolls IV: Shivering Isles exclusively via Xbox Live
, Lewis has stated that retail and downloads can exist in harmony.
"There is a parallel opportunity through Live to offer demos, new levels, maps, characters etc,” Lewis said. “But these complement the retail full priced product completely and are not designed to detract but more to enhance."
When asked if triple-A titles will ever regularly be sold via download, Lewis said, "Honestly, I doubt it. I think there are practical limitations to this. Certainly as speeds and storage increase then there will be ever more flexibility, but my own view is that people will continue to want to buy at retail. I think the two will live in harmony for some considerable time yet."
To SPOnG's eyes the key phrase there is “for some considerable time yet." It implies the inevitable: at some point game content will be sold entirely via download. It's not a question of whether it will happen, but of when. Once storage capacities and download speeds are large enough there will simply be no need for developers to use retail. Shivering Isles
on the 360 being sold via download while the PC version is sold through retail is a definite step in that direction.
We've already seen HMV suffer because of music download sales recently
, and SPOnG fears that it may not be too long before specialist games retailers may start to suffer from the same problem.