So today ( November 21st, 2012) marks the beginning of this year's Autumn Steam sale where games are reduced to 25, 50, even 75% off their normal price. Even games released just a month ago are reduced to a fraction of their launch price which might not go down for everyday prices until five or six months after release. The games include indies old and new, full AAA games that have been around for years, and even those only weeks old. You, however, most likely already knew that. So why the article? Well we as a community are on the verge of a new console generation. The Wii U was released only days ago, and the new Microsoft and Sony consoles are just around the corner, albeit still a year or two away. They are coming though. They know it, the big name companies know it, and we know it. So what does this mean? It means that the computer platform will once again have an on-par competitor in terms of available hardware.
There have even been rumors that the new Xbox will have the ability to swap parts and constantly upgrade the hardware of the console, similar to a home computer. That's great and all, but the games and how they are delivered to the consumer is what the big, looming question on our minds is all about. Steam, probably the most popular gaming software delivery platform (sorry for the mouthful), being an all digital sales saves packaging costs, gives more free reign to the developers, and rakes in the cash. Especially with Steam sales. Developers can choose to participate in the amazing deals so that our greedy consumer hands can get all over some of the greatest games out there on the cheap. If the next gen consoles don't do anything to replicate this system for their consoles, either by themselves or through some other third party, then competitively consoles might never be able to keep up with the personal desktop computer.
High end computers may cost two to three times what a next gen console may cost, but in a year or less, with steam, you can save enough on games to pay it off, and then some. A great example is Darksiders II. Just released a month ago this game, today on steam, costs $16.99 when its retail is $50 dollars: already ten less then it's console counterpart, and now over $40. If I were to go to my local Gamestop and wanted to purchase a new copy it would still cost me full retail price. Sure you might be able to pick up a used copy and save some but on PC you get it new, untouched, forever linked to your account and there's no CD or packaging to deal with.
Sure some of us, myself included, enjoy getting physical copies of games, esspecially when there's other physical goodies included (through pre-order bonuses or special editions) and just love displaying our awesome collection of games on a shelf that you can show off to your friends. You may be able to brag that you're Steam library consists of 100+ games, but nothing beats having those games and being able to pick up and see the physical copy. However the industry is going digital and everyone knows it.
What we're waiting to find out is how soon, how good, and how competitive they can be on console compared to PC.
Oh and let's not forget about Free-2-play games. Our new overlords. At least until the cats decide to take over.