Tim Sweeney, the leader of Epic Games, says that his company is ready to embrace a future where digital distribution becomes a dominant element of the video games industry because it would allow them to better serve the interest of gamers.
The chief executive officer tells Edge that, “Once you have a game, it’s available pervasively online, and your devices are all Internet-connected, do you really need to run television ads to get people to find it at the top of the App Store? I’m looking forward to our digital future.”
Epic Games would benefit from more flexibility because it would allow them to match game development budgets with the interest from the player base.
Digital distribution is a good way of making the entire video games market more efficient.
Sweeney adds, “If you look at games that just encompass triple-A production values, there’s a huge range of scales where games have been successful and profitable. You don’t need $100 million to build a triple-A game. But if you want to spend that much, you can build one that looks absolutely insane.”
At the moment, digitally distributed video games are an important sales segment on the PC, where services like Steam, Gamersgate and Origin have big numbers of users and large catalogs.
On the platform, big titles are often launched at the same time as retail.
The situation is very different on home consoles, where Nintendo, Microsoft and Sony are unwilling to match launch dates for digital content.
The situation might be different for the next generation of hardware, especially given the fact that Sony picked up Gaikai in order to acquire technology linked to digital video game delivery.
At the moment, Epic Games is working on Unreal Engine 4, an entirely new set of game development tools that will also power a game called Fortnite.