Microsoft has defended its stance on digital distribution of full retail titles, saying the that reason Games on Demand titles release around six months later on Xbox LIVE than they do on high street shelves is all about consumer choice.
Which doesn't seem to make a huge amount of sense.
“It comes down to choice,” Xbox Live’s UK product manager Pav Bhardwaj said, talking to MCV.
“The customer has the choice of going to retail on day one if they really want to buy a particular title, or to wait a couple of months and buy it full price from the Xbox Live marketplace.
“It’s a successful part of our business, we’re very pleased with the growth and it continues to do really well. Clearly there’s an audience out there who are happy to purchase a product at full ERP six or so months after [its retail release].”
At first glance this would seem to imply that we gamers only have ourselves to blame for high digital prices. As Bhardwaj says, if GOD is proving to be a profitable service, why change it?
“We don’t do Games on Demand on day one, we focus on boxed retail for day one,” added Bhardwaj. "That’s where our focus has always been and will remain that way for the foreseeable future.
“We release a game roughly six months after it arrives at retail at full ERP. That’s our model and we’ll be sticking to that. It’s a successful model, so why change something you don’t need to?”
There are undoubtedly retailer relationship considerations that come into play, but it would be interesting to see how Microsoft's digital sales stack up against Sony's, with the latter often releasing games on PSN at full RRP on day one.