Although not yet a convert to iTunes, I have gone to digital distribution for most of my PC applications (and particularly gaming) needs. This transition was a bit surprising, given my predilection to collecting physical media and considering the electronic bits themselves ephemeral. However, as time goes on, substantial chunks of my life have “gone digital” – I now consider for example my hard copy documents to be the ephemeral transition versions, and the digital/online version to be the definitive one. The industry is meeting me halfway – a large proportion of software is now available digitally (good) and what with continually patching the physical media version is now almost certainly out-of-date before it is even opened.
The last straw that broke the camel’s back, however, is the fact that online shopping is ridiculously convenient. There’s a bit of time saved, making your way to the store and back. But the biggest boon is that when you’re shopping on the Internet, you have (by definition) the Internet at your disposal. It’s a simple browser window away to comparison shop or google for reviews and impressions.
These days, I’ve got accounts on three of the major digital distribution sites – Steam, Direct2Drive and Impulse. Which brings me to what is probably the key factor in my conversion to digital distribution – the deals in incredible. In my mind, I think to myself “I’d only by digital distribution if it was a lot cheaper”. Well, the deals on these sites are often far better than the bargain bins of most stores or the second-hand resale software. I used to consider (not too many months ago) 50% off as a good discount, nicely steep discount – nowadays, 50% off is probably the top end of what I consider the a “sale”. A good discount now has to bring the price below $10, and you get some big name titles sometimes dipping into the $5 and down bin. There’s usually something new, on sale (temporarily or permanently marked down) every couple of days, with Steam being pretty regular about having a mid-week sale and a weekend sale.
And brand-new software isn’t immune – I’ve now promised myself not to buy the “hot new thing” at full price. Steam will usually have it for pre-order at 10% off, and if you wait a month or two, you’ll often find easily find flash deals of 25%-33% off. Holidays? Special Occasions? Usually accompanied by a whole stack of sales.
As a safety measure, I’ve intentionally avoided any of the “one-click” automation with the payment – I need the extra passwords to prevent impulse purchases. No thank you, please do NOT authenticate my payment credentials (I tend to use Paypal) automatically – I need the time while reviewing my payment options (I pay by credit card to get the extra rebate from the CC company) to slow me down me ol’ trigger finger.
Digital Distribution a.k.a. Bargain hunting has never been so easy – or convenient.