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Digital distribution set to soar

In a newly conducted survey entitled Digital Distribution of Games — Growth Opportunities and Forecasts to 2010, Screen Digest forecast a USD 400 million (EURO 350 million) market, excluding Asian countries.

In a newly conducted survey entitled Digital Distribution of Games — Growth Opportunities and Forecasts to 2010, Screen Digest forecast a USD 400 million (EURO 350 million) market, excluding Asian countries.

The report suggests that availability of premium PC titles for the Games On Demand download service is better than ever before, with developers and publishers beginning to show support for the service in addition to pushing the traditional retail channels.

Although the majority of the content available for download is PC-based and therefore restricted in its market reach in comparison to consoles, premium content download on Microsoft's Xbox Live! service accounted for 11 percent of core download sales in 2004.

Microsoft and Sony have so far dismissed the idea of premium game downloads on their next generation hardware, but add-on and bonus downloadable content is expected to make a serious impact and take up a much larger share of the market from 2006.

Piers Harding-Rolls, author of the report, states: "Over the last 12 months the market has shown signs of getting into its stride, and has produced a number of noteworthy success stories in both the download and Games on Demand sectors."

The digital distribution market consists of two key segments, both of which, according to the report, are set to enjoy substantial growth from both PC sector and the next generation of online consoles. Digital download is a direct alternative to the traditional retail sales channel, allowing retailer-to-consumer distribution of games via the Internet under an outright or subscription purchase model.

Games On Demand is a broadband-only service where games application data is downloaded to a user's PC as and when needed, on a continual basis. Normally subscription-based, the games are never downloaded in their entirety, although significant portions are cached to improve the streaming process.

For anyone wishing to view the report in its entirety, further details can be found at the company website (www.screendigest.com).

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Paul Loughrey

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