Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Kapow! Games on Demand presents BioShock 2

Microsoft's Games on Demand service for the Personal Computer has only been available for a couple of months - as you can tell from its rather dismal amount of available games for download so far - and it features mostly older games that have already past their retail prime, like Resident Evil 5 and Batman: Arkham Asylum. While Dirt 2 was made available using this client on the same date that the retail version came out, the game was already released earlier on the consoles so that move was rather expected on Microsoft's part. What I didn't expect was to see BioShock 2 being made available for digital purchase today via this distribution channel alongside other direct download companies like Steam and Direct2Drive.

Why can't we have the weekly X-Box 360 arcade releases made available here too?

Since the PC's Games on Demand is somewhat of a cousin of the X-Box 360's feature by the same name, I was sure that there was going to be a delay of the game being made available for direct download from Microsoft. Well, actually it makes sense that Microsoft did so because they want to be in a head-to-head competition with the other direct download services but you would think that they would allow the retail copies to take in some sales before focusing on Games on Demand. They are probably going to depend on the X-Box 360 version of the game to make the retail sales because the game is not made available for direct download on the 360 Games on Demand page: this is rather odd considering that there are more money to be made selling the game digitally. It is rather exciting to see this game on Games on Demand because of the following reasons:

1) This may lead to future PC games bearing the "Games for Windows" brand being available exclusively via direct download and the elimination of retail sales of such games - which of course would discourage other forms of retail game sales for the PC thus ushering a new era of digital only content. Oh I so want to be there already! Microsoft needs to be more aggressive in getting more developers to adopt "the brand".

2) The blurring of lines between the X-Box 360 and PC gaming since both are using the LIVE network and have similar sets of functionality - why get a game on the console when the superior version of the same game is available on the PC at a cheaper price and without the hassle of getting it at the store? Microsoft should really focus on transitioning from the 360 to the PC by making the PC more attractive but we know that's not going to happen anytime soon with "Natal" arriving later this year - unless of course the "Natal" camera is compatible with the PC!

There is one thing that ruined the fantasy for me a bit though and that is the price of the download. Games on Demand is selling BioShock 2 at $49.99, which is the same price for the game if you pick it up at retail. Well, as a friend of mind told me this before: I would save some gas money and my precious time if I would just do the direct download version. There's a truth in that and I think to really make this whole direct download thing to be the future of video gaming, it is going to take a lot of people - myself included - to change their perceptions of "discs" and "retail packaging" versus the convenience of accessing games conveniently from one screen. Heck, sometimes I wish that all of my games can be crammed into one place and that all I have to do to access a title is to go down the list and hit "Play" without having to mess around with the physical software. No, I'm not talking about those emulators of course but I sure hope that I will still be alive by the time that games are sold being exclusively via digital distribution. As for BioShock 2 itself, I will be getting the PC version instead of the X-Box 360/PlayStation 3 version. I am still on the fence about the digital download though.

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