Right now Blockbuster is far from the only clueless company in freefall, Microsoft comes to mind, but while Blockbuster’s failed Circuit City merger may be dead for the best, Blockbuster really does not have much of an answer to its problems. Blockbuster’s new highly publicized focus on games is an even bigger dead end than its core DVD rental business because at this stage in console development, games are going to slip even faster into the download net and away from physical location purchases and rentals. While this will destroy GameStop, something that millions of gamers the world over will cheer, it will also make Blockbuster’s gaming focus that much more irrelevant.
Whether it’s Steam or the XBox marketplace, games are the most suited to being downloaded because they’re played on net connected consoles or computers and are at their core software. There’s a big conceptual gap for the movie industry in thinking of their product as data, but there’s not much of such a gap for the game industry, which despite EA’s idiocy is technically literate enough to read the writing on the web and can smell the profits in bypassing GameStop, Wal-Mart and all the retailers to deal with the customer direct while dispensing with the packaging and the shipping costs too.
Rentals too are easier to manage online, as long as the DRM is doable, but even with DRM that can be cracked, renting a game even with the possibility of it being pirated makes sense, because let’s face it, if a gamer really wants to pirate a game, they can simply use Bit Torrent.
Blockbuster may have its own set top box plan, but even if they can manage to move it into some homes, the major obstacle will still be the duplicate effort when it comes to gamers.