Most of the country now has access to broadband, with speeds now pushing towards 100mb/s in some fibre optic areas How fast do you need?
If I had bought Civ V via Steam I could have played it at midnight on launch day due to the way the game(s) unlock, as it was being delivered I had to wait three days extra due to Royal Mail errors. Same goes for any new release, even with a 15GB+ download, most broadband connections now will have that done over night as soon as the game unlocks ready for play first thing in the morning.
Digital distribution has its flaws (pricing being one of them), but when the pricing is done right (Steam sales etc) its phenomenal. Let's take a look at what Steam provides, for free:
- My game catalogue where ever I am in the world.
- Cloud gaming < - Will be the next big thing
- Community features built in.
- Automatic patching / updating.
- Multiplayer made easy
- Support for Indie developers
- Support for Mod creators
and on and on and on....
Games rarely come with manuals with talking about these days and as much as I like having the product in my hand, the more I look at my shelf I can't help but think it's one big waste of plastic.
Digital distribution is the future, retail will still exist but will have to work along side digital distribution channels such as Steam. In ten years time the only games we'll be buying to physically own will special or limited editions.
I'd love it if boxed games came with digital copies much in the same way some Blu-Rays do.
Edit: Mark beat me.