I wonder how long it will be until people look at me with wide eyed amazement when I regale them with tales of leaving my home, jumping on a bus, going into town, walking into an actual building and handing over physical money to a human being just so I can play a videogame. Ubisoft is probably betting that it won't be all that far into the future. Speaking with MCV Ubisoft's digital publishing manager, Thomas Paincon, explained that digital distribution is the way to go when releasing a new IP.
There is less risk releasing a new game digitally. At retail, if you don’t have a 90 Metacritic score and millions of fans, it’s very risky to launch a new game. Look at From Dust, we sold half a million units on XBLA and PSN. Why? Because the prices were lower, but also because it was a new experience and people using digital platforms are more willing to test a new IP.
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Ubisoft is currently working on ten titles which will only be available on digital platforms, including Shoot Many Robots and I am Alive. So the publisher is certainly putting its money where its mouth is. The last time I bought a physical copy of a PC title was Dragon Age: Origins - Awakening right when it was first launched. And even then, I never bought it from a brick and mortar store. But I'm still waiting for prices to come in line with the significantly lower costs of digital titles. Games like From Dust were certainly cheaper than if they had been sold in a shop, but generally we end up saving very little for major releases. It's the convenience that get's me to use such services. Of course the wonderful sales from platforms like Steam and GOG.com also help.