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Topic: Cutting Out the Middle Man: Moving Games to Digital-only  (Read 1801 times)

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Cutting Out the Middle Man: Moving Games to Digital-only
« on: June 12, 2014, 04:01:46 PM »

    Offline Kiyza

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So I've been seriously giving this some thought lately, and I wanted to share the idea with you guys.

It's clear that we're closing in on a day and age where there will be no more physical copies of video games. I mean, let's consider the trends on this one. Do you remember playing PC games and actually buying physical copies of those games? I do. I remember doing that when I was very young, and Oregon Trail was quite fun. But seriously, who bought Skyrim on the PC and didn't use Steam or another digital download service?

It's clear that consoles are rapidly moving toward this themselves, as even the Wii U has a pretty impressive amount of memory in some versions of its hardware. It wouldn't surprise me at all if the concept of the physical video game eventually becomes little more than a distant -- but likely fond -- memory. GameStop, the only major retailer that focuses on video games, is clearly anticipating this, as they've been focusing less on video games and more on tablets and other such devices.

I think that soon in the future, we're going to have a reality where video games in general are going to be download-only, unless you're into retro games on the consoles themselves. But that's not a bad thing. That might actually be exactly what developers have wanted for a long time.

For instance, it's clear that a number of major game companies have a huge grudge against people who play used video games. It was center stage last E3. With digital downloads, on the other hand, you effectively cut out retailers like GameStop from the equation. If you want the game, you have to buy it new, which gives money directly to the company that made it.

On top of that, by cutting out the middle man -- namely, the portion of money that retailers make on selling these video games -- it has the potential to create no "baseline" price for games, like the current $60 for consoles and $40 for handhelds. It's clear that independent developers benefit from that greatly. That drastically increases the amount of money that developers can glean from their games, and titles from big companies are getting absurdly expensive to make already. They need to sell those 30 million copies now. It's quickly becoming too big for its own good and this would be a good way to help even things out.

On top of that, it'll be easier to have new models of paying for a video game. Paying a flat fee doesn't work well for every game. For instance, I really like the Mario Vs Donkey Kong series for a few kicks here and there, but $60 is quite a steep price point for a game that doesn't have much depth, so it's obvious I won't be purchasing the Wii U iteration. Now, if it were a $5 game with extra levels that cost a couple bucks more to unlock, then we'd be speaking my language. More games like free-to-play MMOs with a cashing system would also be welcome.

The only issue might be with alienating younger gamers, but... I feel like if you've already got Mom paying for Xbox Live every month, you're probably in a position to ask her to buy a video game with her credit card anyway. Most kids probably have some manner of dealing with this regardless, because they already make so many damn purchases on the app and Play stores.

I honestly think that moving to download-only is not only going to happen in the game industry, it's going to be a big way of shaping it. I've had these thoughts swimming around in my mind because of E3. I constantly find myself thinking "Oh man, that looks awesome! ...But does it look $60 awesome?" It crushes me when I have to think that way, but I'm more strapped for cash than ever now that college is on the horizon. Video games are an expensive hobby and they aren't my primary one anymore and I can't justify dropping that much money on a Yoshi game, no matter how cute it is.

But hey, what do you guys think? Apologies for the rant (as usual), but this time I really think a lot of context is necessary.


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Cutting Out the Middle Man: Moving Games to Digital-only
« Reply #1 on: June 12, 2014, 04:08:17 PM »

    Offline Griffel

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Hmm well that looks quite homosexual. 

Spoiler for Hidden:
if someone actually read this book of a thread well get a life
Anything is Possible.

Cutting Out the Middle Man: Moving Games to Digital-only
« Reply #2 on: June 12, 2014, 04:33:13 PM »

    Offline Sport

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holy shit....WTFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFF.

i understand you have alot of your min but, can you summarize this to a minimum? like 1 paragraph only at least

Cutting Out the Middle Man: Moving Games to Digital-only
« Reply #3 on: June 12, 2014, 04:43:41 PM »

    Offline Nia

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Um... I bought a physical copy of Skyrim... still required Steam (much to my disgust, since at the time I didn't have the internet at home).
Actually, I rarely buy games digitally. There's a few (Disgaea 2: Dark Hero Days, Persona 2: Eternal Punishment).
Of course, yes, both of those were inexpensive (I think they were like $5 each), but they are games I would have actually paid full price for.

I tend to be more careful of buying games these days, because of how disappointed I've been with some titles. Occasionally, something that looked or sounded cool still slips in (Battle of Z, for instance), but I more or less only venture on purchasing games if they're something that absolutely catch my attention.

Don't get me wrong, I like the idea of digital distribution, but I also like the option of owning a solid copy.
And knowing how these companies tend to be, how long will it be before they make it digital only, then jack up the price anyway?


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 So as I pray, Unlimited Blade Works."

Cutting Out the Middle Man: Moving Games to Digital-only
« Reply #4 on: June 12, 2014, 07:43:37 PM »

    Offline Jak

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My concern with the digital only thing is we're going from owning something to a company saying "you gave us money so now you can use this for as long as I want you to or until I go out of business".

Sure steam gets away with that but it's also part of their policy that if Steam goes under you can download the game and burn it to a disk free of charge and it wont require steam anymore. Question is, can they back that up? And can every company make that same promise and back it up? I think not. You're going to be seeing companies come and go, and when it all goes digital only, legit copies of games will come and go with those companies. Ubisoft goes under and Assassins Creed 8 is lost to all but pirates.

On top of that, digital only means there will be accounts and services and a list of arbitrary rules you have to follow even if it affects nobody but yourself, or they're just allowed to take it all away. All that money you spent, in the trash.
« Last Edit: June 12, 2014, 07:45:50 PM by Jak »

Cutting Out the Middle Man: Moving Games to Digital-only
« Reply #5 on: June 13, 2014, 12:36:45 AM »

    Offline Kiyza

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Um... I bought a physical copy of Skyrim... still required Steam (much to my disgust, since at the time I didn't have the internet at home).
Actually, I rarely buy games digitally. There's a few (Disgaea 2: Dark Hero Days, Persona 2: Eternal Punishment).
Of course, yes, both of those were inexpensive (I think they were like $5 each), but they are games I would have actually paid full price for.

I tend to be more careful of buying games these days, because of how disappointed I've been with some titles. Occasionally, something that looked or sounded cool still slips in (Battle of Z, for instance), but I more or less only venture on purchasing games if they're something that absolutely catch my attention.

Don't get me wrong, I like the idea of digital distribution, but I also like the option of owning a solid copy.
And knowing how these companies tend to be, how long will it be before they make it digital only, then jack up the price anyway?

Don't get me wrong here -- I'm definitely going to miss physical copies of games if this becomes the norm.  I'm definitely stingy with my gaming these days and most of my purchases are used games in the $10-20. Why? Because I've realized that's the best way for me to get the most bang for my buck. I have no problem with paying that $40 or $60 for the games that are really worth it. I just can't justify spending that amount of money on every title I liked from E3 this year. Will I buy Bayonetta and Smash Bros.? Hell yeah I will, especially because Bayonetta is a double pack. But there are going to be a lot of titles I'm going to miss out on because I can't bring myself to spend that much money.

All things considered, I don't think we're actually going to drop below the current $60 for big releases on consoles. Even PC titles that are pretty much digital-only still go for that price. But for games that aren't nearly as expensive to produce as the latest Assassin's Creed, a lower price point might actually bump up sales figures. This sort of price point -- that's only really possible through digital distribution -- has already been adopted by a lot of independent publishers working with smaller budgets.

My concern with the digital only thing is we're going from owning something to a company saying "you gave us money so now you can use this for as long as I want you to or until I go out of business".

Sure steam gets away with that but it's also part of their policy that if Steam goes under you can download the game and burn it to a disk free of charge and it wont require steam anymore. Question is, can they back that up? And can every company make that same promise and back it up? I think not. You're going to be seeing companies come and go, and when it all goes digital only, legit copies of games will come and go with those companies. Ubisoft goes under and Assassins Creed 8 is lost to all but pirates.

On top of that, digital only means there will be accounts and services and a list of arbitrary rules you have to follow even if it affects nobody but yourself, or they're just allowed to take it all away. All that money you spent, in the trash.

Oh, we're going to get into tricky legal issues for sure, but we already do have those sorts of agreements with a lot of games -- largely games with microtransactions and MMORPGs. Heck, the same thing just happened with the Wii and DS's Wi-Fi connection. I don't think that we'll see that sort of model cropping up and effecting home consoles beyond that. I think the sheer number of single-player games out there is going to tend to make that pointless. We'll probably end up losing games that require the aforementioned elements eventually anyway. Meanwhile, Assassin's Creed is a single-player title, so there's no logical reason to worry about that too much.


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Cutting Out the Middle Man: Moving Games to Digital-only
« Reply #6 on: June 13, 2014, 12:42:46 AM »

    Offline Luke[Dumke]

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If Australia ever sells new release games for less then $90+.
HFIL WILL FREEZE OVER.


so yeah i haven't bought a single game from a store in australia since, 2011 and that's when i bought a game that was like $20 anyhow. darksiders 2.
If all games went to digital only, there would be alot of job loss though, which would be rather unfortunate.
« Last Edit: June 13, 2014, 12:46:04 AM by Luke[Dumke] »
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Cutting Out the Middle Man: Moving Games to Digital-only
« Reply #7 on: June 13, 2014, 12:48:18 AM »

    Offline Roxas

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I download digital games at times... but Id still like the choice to biuy physical copies, it just feels better and if something happens to the system, the game is ok(Well nowdays they probaly have a backup thing...)

Didnt your parents tell you not to play with me? Youll get burned.

Cutting Out the Middle Man: Moving Games to Digital-only
« Reply #8 on: June 13, 2014, 01:12:12 AM »

    Offline Kiyza

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If Australia ever sells new release games for less then $90+.
HFIL WILL FREEZE OVER.


so yeah i haven't bought a single game from a store in australia since, 2011 and that's when i bought a game that was like $20 anyhow. darksiders 2.
If all games went to digital only, there would be alot of job loss though, which would be rather unfortunate.

Yeah, Australia could really use a shift to digital distribution. The prices down there -- and in a lot of other countries too -- are absurd because of the price of shipping. No more shipping is just one of the benefits from this.

I don't think we're actually going to see a huge loss in jobs as a result of a shift like this. The only major retailer that caters specifically to video games is GameStop and, like I've said, they're clearly anticipating this sort of change in the industry and are now increasingly becoming "TabletStop". On the contrary, it will probably create new jobs within the video game industry for rising independent studios, as that would most likely become more accessible than ever.


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Cutting Out the Middle Man: Moving Games to Digital-only
« Reply #9 on: June 13, 2014, 01:27:38 AM »

    Offline Luke[Dumke]

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We have quite alot of Game stores in australia

Ebgames
"Game"
Gametraders
GamesWarehouse
JB Hi-fi (Wouldn't be effected)
GamesWizards

There is probably more, but those i've bought games from before.
I don't quite see how they wouldn't be at a loss for jobs, when everything goes digital, alot more becomes automated.

and coming with the nature of automated, no people required.
You'd be looking at 10 people at most to run an online store.
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Cutting Out the Middle Man: Moving Games to Digital-only
« Reply #10 on: June 13, 2014, 02:11:44 AM »

    Offline Kiyza

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We have quite alot of Game stores in australia

Ebgames
"Game"
Gametraders
GamesWarehouse
JB Hi-fi (Wouldn't be effected)
GamesWizards

There is probably more, but those i've bought games from before.
I don't quite see how they wouldn't be at a loss for jobs, when everything goes digital, alot more becomes automated.

and coming with the nature of automated, no people required.
You'd be looking at 10 people at most to run an online store.

I wasn't aware of that many stores being in Australia. Here in Murrika, (and I'm pretty sure most of Europe as well, judging by what I've heard from them) GameStop/EB Games is pretty much the only retailer that sells video games and it's clear they're gearing up with a market shift. No other retailer treats video games as a primary source of revenue, other than a few local businesses, which mostly sell old, used games anyway. That said, most of the jobs are, ultimately, retail jobs as opposed to white collar work like development. It may sound harsh, and I know people who do work in retail, but that sort of trend has been going on for a while now. Is it unfortunate? Yes, of course. I know people personally who work at those sorts of retailers. But it's not like a shift toward more automation in industry hasn't been going on for a long, long time.


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Cutting Out the Middle Man: Moving Games to Digital-only
« Reply #11 on: June 13, 2014, 02:22:26 AM »

    Offline Steven

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I would really hate for all games to become digital only. I like having a physical copy of the game. I really want that Sword Art Online game that is supposed to come out in a few months on the vita, but it's digital only, so I highly doubt I'll ever play it. The only games I could ever see myself buying if they were digital only, would be Zelda games. Anything else and it's not worth it for me.

Cutting Out the Middle Man: Moving Games to Digital-only
« Reply #12 on: June 13, 2014, 02:58:33 AM »

    Offline Jak

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Oh, we're going to get into tricky legal issues for sure, but we already do have those sorts of agreements with a lot of games -- largely games with microtransactions and MMORPGs. Heck, the same thing just happened with the Wii and DS's Wi-Fi connection. I don't think that we'll see that sort of model cropping up and effecting home consoles beyond that. I think the sheer number of single-player games out there is going to tend to make that pointless. We'll probably end up losing games that require the aforementioned elements eventually anyway. Meanwhile, Assassin's Creed is a single-player title, so there's no logical reason to worry about that too much.

Losing features because of servers going down is not something to be concerned about. When the official servers go down, homebrew solutions will eventually crop up. WiiConnect24 will be missed but with the Wii's extensive homebrew community I'm sure someone will eventually create a program to connect and play the games similar to how Hamachi works.

Cutting Out the Middle Man: Moving Games to Digital-only
« Reply #13 on: June 13, 2014, 07:15:34 AM »

    Offline Zellion

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I was actually having the convocation earlier this week.

I can't help but think hard copes are on their way out. I mean, just look at the way music and dvd's is today. I remember reading sometime last year that download sales on hardcopy sales have dropped by 17% in (2011 or 12 can't remember which year).

Also, I heard that companies such as PlayStation are creating back catalogs on the Ps4 service for ever game. It would surprise me if they just start adding everything on their soon.

Cutting Out the Middle Man: Moving Games to Digital-only
« Reply #14 on: June 13, 2014, 07:38:27 AM »

    Offline Nia

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The only games I've bought digitally are ones that already exist in physical copies (although one of them, Eternal Punishment, is extremely difficult to find since it was a limited release on the PS1).
The exception being inFamous: Festival of Blood, which had a download voucher come with my newer PS3 after my old one's disc drive burned out.

They can scale back the number of discs released maybe, but I don't think they should go strictly to digital.
What about players who don't have the internet, or have very poor internet?
It's one of the biggest, fattest f**k yous a company can pull.


"I am the bone of my sword
 Steel is my body and fire is my blood
 I have created over a thousand blades
 Unknown to Death, Nor known to Life
 Have withstood pain to create many weapons
 Yet, those hands will never hold anything
 So as I pray, Unlimited Blade Works."

Cutting Out the Middle Man: Moving Games to Digital-only
« Reply #15 on: June 13, 2014, 07:47:23 AM »

    Offline Kurai

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I think Digital games are quite resourceful. Except

1- Your account hacked or stolen or something happens
2- Not being able to show them off


As a great man once said

These things (comics, games, etc) are like boobs, they look great online but it's better to hold in your hand

Thank you Kaiza!

Cutting Out the Middle Man: Moving Games to Digital-only
« Reply #16 on: June 13, 2014, 10:25:15 AM »

    Offline Kiyza

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The only games I've bought digitally are ones that already exist in physical copies (although one of them, Eternal Punishment, is extremely difficult to find since it was a limited release on the PS1).
The exception being inFamous: Festival of Blood, which had a download voucher come with my newer PS3 after my old one's disc drive burned out.

They can scale back the number of discs released maybe, but I don't think they should go strictly to digital.
What about players who don't have the internet, or have very poor internet?
It's one of the biggest, fattest f**k yous a company can pull.

To be completely honest, you have to see this from the perspective of large companies. Video game companies are pretty infamous these days about not giving a shit about the consumer enough and only a handful actively try to encourage a positive relationship -- which is probably why Nintendo was so well-received this E3, pandering to its existing fanbase in buckets, and last year Microsoft bottomed out by giving us the biggest "screw you" in the history of gaming: the notion of not being able to resell physical copies of games.

I don't mean to sound harsh, but you're a very, very small minority in the gaming community. I mean, heck, look at the community for cellphone games. It's already digital-only and the business is booming. Not everyone has a smartphone, not everyone has a good internet connection, but if you have the money to afford a luxury good as expensive as a current generation video game console and a few games for it, you probably have the money to afford at least one of those things. I think that we're going to see this shift starting soon. We've already pretty much got this for music, though a few people still do cell CDs. However, video games a very different market and there are only a few major players for the game we call consoles. I understand your perspective here -- and I've been down that road with the terrible internet before myself -- but the internet is more accessible than it's ever been and where most of the consumers are.

I think Digital games are quite resourceful. Except

1- Your account hacked or stolen or something happens
2- Not being able to show them off


As a great man once said

These things (comics, games, etc) are like boobs, they look great online but it's better to hold in your hand

There's a risk of your home being broken into and your games stolen (or just general identity theft) and it's probably more likely than having your account hacked on one of those sites.

I kind of agree on the notion of comics being better in physical form, but I feel those are inherently different. The way comics are read on a tablet or other digital device makes for a very different experience because you can't really see the whole page at once when you read. Now, I've read some great digital comics that were tailored to this, and webcomics are usually better with their formatting in this respect. There's really nothing inherently different between purchasing games in different manners these days and I think it's a bit more like the difference between purchasing a record, cassette, or CD. All the same thing, really, the only difference is the convenience to the consumer -- or lack thereof to the people who have a cassette player but no CD player. Comics are a bit different in that respect, at least with regard to how the digital forms of them are presented today through the primary digital services. I can't speak much for normal books books, because, in general, the only thing different is the presentation of the words.


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Cutting Out the Middle Man: Moving Games to Digital-only
« Reply #17 on: June 13, 2014, 01:54:01 PM »

    Offline Luke[Dumke]

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What about players who don't have the internet, or have very poor internet?
It's one of the biggest, fattest f**k yous a company can pull.


that i agree with.
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Cutting Out the Middle Man: Moving Games to Digital-only
« Reply #18 on: June 13, 2014, 02:54:58 PM »

    Offline Bardock

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that i agree with.
holy shit that is the baddest uploud speed i ever saw
Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.
        
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Cutting Out the Middle Man: Moving Games to Digital-only
« Reply #19 on: June 14, 2014, 01:21:36 AM »

    Offline Tempest

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We have quite alot of Game stores in australia

Ebgames
"Game"
Gametraders
GamesWarehouse
JB Hi-fi (Wouldn't be effected)
GamesWizards

There is probably more, but those i've bought games from before.
I don't quite see how they wouldn't be at a loss for jobs, when everything goes digital, alot more becomes automated.

and coming with the nature of automated, no people required.
You'd be looking at 10 people at most to run an online store.

Depends where you live in Australia. Over here in Victoria, most GAME, and GameTraders stores have closed down, with only a few stores lingering around although it's only a matter of time until they all go out of business over here. Mainly the big video game stores in Victoria are EB games and JB hifi.

In all honesty, there are some moments where I like how the gaming industry is heading towards going digital, but there are other moments where I completely hate the concept. Being a kid who grew up in the 90's I have always been use to buying physical copies of games, plain and simple. I just love owning the game, reading through the manual, and things like that. It's just a charm of gaming I've grown up with. Now days, I see Wii U games have no instruction manual which really annoys me, because its all just to save money and be environmental friendly.

On the positive side there are times when I love how you can get digital versions of games. For example, with mario kart 8 for wii U, if you bought the game between june - july you get a free game bundled with it. A selected game of our choice from a range of 5 - 10 games (depending where you live in the world). Europe could download 1 of 10 selected games and NA could download 1 of 5 selected games. I picked Pikmin 3. Now if games were not digital, I probably would have never had the opportunity to play the game or get into the series.

And then there was also the time when the sony servers were hacked and I was able to download infamous 1, for free. Which was a cool way of them saying "hey we fucked up, but look everyone gets some compensation".
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Cutting Out the Middle Man: Moving Games to Digital-only
« Reply #20 on: June 14, 2014, 01:40:48 AM »

    Offline Spark

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Cutting Out the Middle Man: Moving Games to Digital-only
« Reply #21 on: June 14, 2014, 06:48:49 AM »

    Offline Jak

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To be completely honest, you have to see this from the perspective of large companies. Video game companies are pretty infamous these days about not giving a shit about the consumer enough and only a handful actively try to encourage a positive relationship -- which is probably why Nintendo was so well-received this E3, pandering to its existing fanbase in buckets, and last year Microsoft bottomed out by giving us the biggest "screw you" in the history of gaming: the notion of not being able to resell physical copies of games.

I don't mean to sound harsh, but you're a very, very small minority in the gaming community. I mean, heck, look at the community for cellphone games. It's already digital-only and the business is booming. Not everyone has a smartphone, not everyone has a good internet connection, but if you have the money to afford a luxury good as expensive as a current generation video game console and a few games for it, you probably have the money to afford at least one of those things. I think that we're going to see this shift starting soon. We've already pretty much got this for music, though a few people still do cell CDs. However, video games a very different market and there are only a few major players for the game we call consoles. I understand your perspective here -- and I've been down that road with the terrible internet before myself -- but the internet is more accessible than it's ever been and where most of the consumers are.

All that said, if these companies want the shift to be even remotely successful, they need to stand with the consumer against the American ISPs. Our internet services are NOT ready for a digital only. What we need is data caps to be abolished, net neutrality to be reinstated and ISPs to be re-classified as common carriers.