Reuters is running an interesting story on the present - and future - of digital distribution in the game industry. Among the facts: "17 percent of games sold in 2008 by PC gamers were digitally downloaded...digitally downloaded games will account for roughly 2 percent of industry sales this year, or around $400 million." DD games are expected to "double annually for a few years, to $800 million in 2010 and $1.6 billion by 2011."
This comes a day after Turbine announced that their game, Dungeons and Dragons Online, would now be available for free. The business model will be built on microtransactions - selling gamers content the enhance the game play experience. This model isn't new. Microtranscations have fueled a virtual economy - and underground - in massively multiplayer online games for year. A Korean game called Crazyracing Kartrider has been a pioneer of this. I'm sure it's only a matter of time before this craze finally and fully takes hold here.
David Kushner is the author of many books, including Masters of Doom, Jonny Magic & the Card Shark Kids, Levittown, The Bones of Marianna, and Alligator Candy. A contributing editor of Rolling Stone, he has written for publications including The New Yorker, Vanity Fair, Wired, and The New York Times Magazine.