Digital distribution of video gaming content is changing the industry. The likes of Steam, the PlayStation Store, Xbox Live Marketplace, and Wii Shop Channel take the bold step of removing the middleman retailer from the purchasing experience, but sometimes the middleman won't stand for being removed. Consider GameStop, a brick-and-mortar retailer that has begun to sell downloadable content in its stores. Now you can drive to your local GameStop to buy a code that you can then take home and plug into your gaming system of choice to redeem. As if that isn't asinine enough, you can also preorder DLC codes from the store. Completely ridiculous? That's being nice about it. Here's Joystiq's take on the matter:
GameStop is taking pre-orders on downloadable content. Isn't the point of pre-ordering to secure a copy in case the store runs out of stock? Not ... really a problem for DLC. It would seem that GameStop's strategy for dealing with a scarcity-free market is to hope nobody notices the lack of scarcity.
The best part: This offer is available in-store, but doesn't appear on GameStop's website. So you have to go to GameStop to pre-order the DLC, and then go to GameStop again so you can get the code to download your map pack from Xbox Live.
I know that GameStop is unhappy at being cut out of part of the game-related shopping experience, but there are some products and services that the company is ill-suited to offer. DLC is one of them. What is the point of driving back and forth to the store (multiple times, no less!) to buy downloadable material? I still like to own physical products instead of just bits and bytes, but if I'm going to the trouble of making the trip to the store and spending my time, gas, and mileage to do it, I'd better be able to buy an actual tangible product when I get there. Please, let's act together as a community to reject this latest ploy and encourage GameStop to find more efficient, less wasteful ways to attract business as the marketplace evolves.