Digital distribution and the future of game delivery

We all know that online, digital transmission will become a primary means of game delivery. But, the question at this week’s London Games Conference was, when will it happen? On this, there is some disagreement. Xbox Live executive Jerry Johnson was unwavering in his claim that cloud-based gaming services such as OnLive and wholly online marketplaces for games is not something that will be seen in the near future. Quoth Johnson, “streaming technology is something that the industry is betting on longer term… right now I don’t believe that technology can scale out against the experience we can offer on a local machine.”

Industry analyst Nick Parker is willing to pinpoint a more specific date for what he calls the “iTunes moment,” when digital and physical sales of games will become equally popular. Parker is predicting that such a moment will occur in 2014 and further speculated that Apple may venture into the next generation of game consoles. If not Apple, Parker expects at least “one big new entrant to shake up the eco-system.”