Digital mana.

There have historically been some major disadvantages with the distribution of game software via download. You have no physical discs, so you’ve got nothing to sell when you’re done with the game. It takes a while to download gigabytes of data. And the biggest disadvantage has been that the downloadable software costs the same price as the physical boxed stuff you can get at a store.

That last one is a doozy. If the middle man has been cut out, and the company that makes/distributes the software doesn’t incur the cost of creating a physical something, why does it cost the same? I understand that companies don’t want to alienate their B&M distributors or cannibalize their physical software channel, but the price thing has been a bit of a dealbreaker.

Steam may have figured this out. They’ve been offering deals this holiday season on downloadable software that have been amazing. I have to admit to being suckered in to buying a couple of games that I wouldn’t have otherwise picked up — Indigo Prophecy, Ghostbusters, Borderlands and Crysis Warhead to name a few.

I don’t know if things will go back to normal after the holiday season, but I don’t see how they can. The deals have been so good, there’s a danger that they may become the new norm. And when I say danger, I mean for the software companies and Steam — not for gamers. For gamers, this is pure win.

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