Digital distribution

Digital distribution (also referred to as content delivery, online distribution, or electronic software distribution (ESD), among others) is the delivery or distribution of digital media content such as audio, video, software and video games.[1] The term is generally used to describe distribution over an online delivery medium, such as the Internet, thus bypassing physical distribution methods, such as paper, optical discs, and VHS videocassettes. The term online distribution is typically applied to freestanding products; downloadable add-ons for other products are more commonly known as downloadable content. With the advancement of network bandwidth capabilities, online distribution became prominent in the 21st century.

Content distributed online may be streamed or downloaded, and often consists of books, films and television programs, music, software, and video games. Streaming involves downloading and using content at a user's request, or "on-demand", rather than allowing a user to store it permanently. In contrast, fully downloading content to a hard drive or other form of storage media may allow offline access in the future.

Specialist networks known as content delivery networks help distribute content over the Internet by ensuring both high availability and high performance. Alternative technologies for content delivery include peer-to-peer file sharing technologies. Alternatively, content delivery platforms create and syndicate content remotely, acting like hosted content management systems.

However, the term is also used in film distribution to describe distribution of content through physical media, in opposition to distribution by analog media such as photographic film and magnetic tape (see digital cinema).

Basis

A primary characteristic of online distribution is its direct nature. To make a commercially successful work, artists usually must enter their industry's publishing chain. Publishers help artists advertise, fund and distribute their work to retail outlets. In some industries, particularly video games, artists find themselves bound to publishers, and in many cases unable to make the content they want; the publisher might not think it will profit well. This can quickly lead to the standardization of the content and to the stifling of new, potentially risky ideas.

By opting for online distribution, an artist can get their work into the public sphere of interest easily with potentially minimum business overhead. This often leads to cheaper goods for the consumer, increased profits for the artists, as well as increased artistic freedom. Online distribution platforms often contain or act as a form of digital rights management.

Online distribution also opens the door to new business models (e.g., the Open Music Model). For instance, an artist could release one track from an album or one chapter from a book at a time instead of waiting for them all to be completed. This either gives them a cash boost to help continue their projects or warns that their work is not financially viable. This is hopefully done before they have spent excessive money and time on a project deemed unviable. Video games have increased flexibility in this area, demonstrated by micropayment models. A clear result of these new models is their accessibility to smaller artists or artist teams who do not have the time, funds, or expertise to make a new product in one go.

An example of this can be found in the music industry. Indie artists may access the same distribution channels as major record labels, with potentially fewer restrictions and manufacturing costs.[1] There is a growing collection of 'Internet labels' that offer distribution to unsigned or independent artists directly to online music stores, and in some cases marketing and promotion services. Further, many bands are able to bypass this completely, and offer their music for sale via their own independently controlled websites.

An issue is the large number of incompatible formats in which content is delivered, restricting the devices that may be used, or making data conversion necessary.

Impact on traditional retail

The rise of online distribution has provided controversy for the traditional business models and resulted in challenges as well as new opportunities for traditional retailers and publishers. Online distribution affects all of the traditional media markets including music, press, and broadcasting. In Britain, the iPlayer, a software application for streaming television and radio, accounts for 5% of all bandwidth used in the United Kingdom.[2]

Music

The move towards online distribution led to a dip in sales in the 2000s when CD sales were nearly cut in half.[3] One such example of online distribution taking its toll on a retailer is the Canadian music chain Sam the Record Man who blamed online distribution for having to close a number of its traditional retail venues in 2007–08.[4] One main reason that sales took such a big hit was that unlicensed downloads of music was very accessible. With copyright infringement affecting sales, the music industry realized it needed to change its business model to keep up with the rapidly changing technology.[5] The step that was taken to move the music industry into the online space has been successful for several reasons. The development of lossy audio compression file formats such as MP3, allows users to compress music files into a high quality format, compressed down to usually a 3-megabyte (MB) file. The lossless FLAC format may require only a few megabytes more. In comparison, the same song might require 30–40 megabytes of storage on a CD.[5] The smaller file size yields much greater Internet transfer speeds.

The transition into the online space has boosted sales, and profit for some artists. It has also allowed for potentially lower expenses such as lower coordination costs, lower distribution costs, as well as the possibility for redistributed total profits.[5] These lower costs have aided new artists in breaking onto the scene and gaining recognition. In the past, some emerging artists have struggled to find a way to market themselves and compete in the various distribution channels. The Internet may give artists more control over their music in terms of ownership, rights, creative process, pricing, and more. In addition to providing global users with easier access to content, online stores allow users to choose the songs they wish instead of having to purchase an entire album from which there may only be one or two titles that the buyer enjoys.

The number of downloaded single tracks rose from 160 million in 2004 to 795 million in 2006 which accounted for a revenue boost from US$397 million to US$2 billion.[5]

Videos

Many traditional network television shows, movies and other video content is now available online, either from the content owner directly or from third party services. YouTube, Netflix, Hulu, Vudu, Amazon Prime Video, DirecTV, SlingTV and other Internet-based video services allow content owners to let users access their content on computers, smart phones, tablets or by using appliances such as video game consoles, set-top boxes or Smart TVs.

Many film distributors also include a Digital Copy, also called Digital HD, with Blu-ray disc, Ultra HD Blu-ray, 3D Blu-ray or a DVD.

Books

Some companies, such as Bookmasters Distribution, which invested US$4.5 million in upgrading its equipment and operating systems, have had to direct capital toward keeping up with the changes in technology. The phenomenon of books going digital has given users the ability to access their books on handheld digital book readers. One benefit of electronic book readers is that they allow users to access additional content via hypertext links. These electronic book readers also give users portability for their books since a reader can hold multiple books depending on the size of its hard drive.[6] Companies that are able to adapt and make changes to capitalize on the digital media market have seen sales surge. Vice President of Perseus Books Group stated that since shifting to electronic books (e-books), it saw sales rise by 68%. Independent Publishers Group experienced a sales boost of 23% in the first quarter of 2012 alone.[7]

Tor Books, a major publisher of science fiction and fantasy books, started to sell e-books DRM-free by July 2012.[8] One year later the publisher stated that they will keep this model as removing DRM was not hurting their digital distribution ebook business.[9] Smaller e-book publishers such as O'Reilly Media, Carina Press[10] and Baen Books had already forgone DRM previously.

Video games

Online distribution is changing the structure of the video game industry. Gabe Newell, creator of the digital distribution service Steam, formulated the advantages over physical retail distribution as such:

The worst days [for game development] were the cartridge days for the NES. It was a huge risk – you had all this money tied up in silicon in a warehouse somewhere, and so you’d be conservative in the decisions you felt you could make, very conservative in the IPs you signed, your art direction would not change, and so on. Now it’s the opposite extreme: we can put something up on Steam, deliver it to people all around the world, make changes. We can take more interesting risks.[...] Retail doesn’t know how to deal with those games. On Steam [a digital distributor] there’s no shelf-space restriction.

Since the 2000s, there has been an increasing number of smaller and niche titles available and commercially successful, like e.g. remakes of classic games.[12][13] The new possibility of the digital distribution stimulated also the creation of game titles of very small video game producers like Independent game developer[14][15] and Modders (e.g. Garry's Mod[16]), which were before not commercially feasible.

The years after 2004 saw the rise of many digital distribution services on the PC, such as Amazon Digital Services, Desura, GameStop, Games for Windows – Live, Impulse, Steam, Origin, Direct2Drive, GOG.com, and GamersGate. The offered properties differ significantly: while most of these digital distributors don't allow reselling of bought games, Green Man Gaming allows this. Another example is gog.com which has a strict non-DRM policy[17] while most other services allow various (strict or less strict) forms of DRM.

Next important thing is that the digital distribution is more eco-friendly than physical. Optical disc is made of polycarbonate plastic and aluminum. The creation of 30 CDs requires the use of 300 cubic feet of natural gas, 2 cups of oil and 24 gallons of water. The boxes for CDs are made from polyvinyl chloride (PVC), which increases the risk of cancer.[18]

Challenges

A general issue is the large number of incompatible data formats in which content is delivered, possibly restricting the devices that may be used, or making data conversion necessary. Streaming services can have several drawbacks: requiring a constant Internet connection to use content; the restriction of some content to never be stored locally; the restriction of content from being transferred to physical media; and the enabling of greater censorship at the discretion of owners of content, infrastructure[19], and consumer devices.

See also

References

  1. ^ a b "Digital Distribution Law & Legal Definition". Legal Definitions. USLegal. Retrieved 25 April 2012.
  2. ^ Kern, Philippe. "The Impact of Digital Distribution – A Contribution" (PDF). Think Tank. Retrieved 26 April 2012.
  3. ^ Goldman, David (February 3, 2010). "Music's lost decade: Sales cut in half". CNN.
  4. ^ Canadian Press (2007-05-29). "Sam the Record Man to shut its Yonge St. doors". Entertainment section. The Toronto Star. Retrieved 2009-01-18.
  5. ^ a b c d Janssens, Jelle; Stijn Vandaele; Tom Vander Beken (2009). "The Music Industry on (the) Line? Surviving Music Piracy in a Digital Era". European Journal of Crime. 77 (96): 77–96. doi:10.1163/157181709X429105. hdl:1854/LU-608677.
  6. ^ MacInnes, Ian (2005). "Impediments to Digital Distribution for Software and Books". International Journal on Media Management. 7 (1–2): 75–85. doi:10.1080/14241277.2005.9669418.
  7. ^ Rosen, Judith (2012-04-16). "Distribution in a Digital Age". Publishers Weekly.
  8. ^ "Tor/Forge E-book Titles to Go DRM-Free". Tor.com. 2012-04-24. Retrieved 24 April 2012.
  9. ^ Geuss, Megan (2013-05-04). "Tor Books says cutting DRM out of its e-books hasn't hurt the business - A look at the sci-fi publisher a year after it announced it would do away with DRM". Arstechnica. Retrieved 2013-07-07. Early this week, Tor Books, a subsidiary of Tom Doherty Associates and the world's leading publisher of science fiction, gave an update on how its decision to do away with Digital Rights Management (DRM) schemes has impacted the company. Long story short: it hasn't, really.
  10. ^ "Tor/Forge Plans DRM-Free e-Books By July". Publishers Weekly. 24 April 2012. Retrieved 24 April 2012.
  11. ^ Walker, John (2007-11-22). "RPS Exclusive: Gabe Newell Interview". Rock, Paper, Shotgun. Retrieved 2013-06-28. The worst days [for game development] were the cartridge days for the NES. It was a huge risk – you had all this money tied up in silicon in a warehouse somewhere, and so you’d be conservative in the decisions you felt you could make, very conservative in the IPs you signed, your art direction would not change, and so on. Now it’s the opposite extreme: we can put something up on Steam, deliver it to people all around the world, make changes. We can take more interesting risks. [...] Retail doesn’t know how to deal with those games. On Steam [a digital distributor] there’s no shelf-space restriction. It’s great because they’re a bunch of old, orphaned games.
  12. ^ "The Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition Tech Info". GameSpot. Retrieved November 15, 2011.
  13. ^ Onyett, Charles (June 2, 2009). "E3 2009: The Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition Preview". IGN. Archived from the original on May 27, 2012. Retrieved November 15, 2011.
  14. ^ Garr, Brian (17 April 2011). "Download distribution opening new doors for independent game developers". Statesman.com. Archived from the original on 21 April 2011.
  15. ^ Stuart, Keith (27 January 2010). "Back to the bedroom: how indie gaming is reviving the Britsoft spirit". The Guardian. Retrieved 8 November 2012.
  16. ^ Senior, Tom (2012-03-16). "Garry's Mod has sold 1.4 million copies, Garry releases sales history to prove it". PCGamer. Retrieved 2013-06-28.
  17. ^ Caron, Frank (2008-09-09). "First look: GOG revives classic PC games for download age". Ars Technica. Retrieved 2012-12-27. [...] [Good Old Games] focuses on bringing old, time-tested games into the downloadable era with low prices and no DRM.
  18. ^ "Why digital is greener than the boxed video games?". CodesWholesale.com. 2016-04-22. Retrieved 2016-08-04.
  19. ^ Kharif, Olga (September 4, 2018). "YouTube, Netflix Videos Found to Be Slowed by Wireless Carriers". bloomberg.com. Retrieved February 26, 2018.
ALL.Net

ALL.Net (Amusement Linkage Live Network) is an arcade video game network communication system and digital distribution system made by Sega Corporation. It is similar to the Taito NESiCAxLive game distribution systems and NESYS arcade network; the player smart card system is similar to the Konami e-AMUSEMENT system. The ALL.Net service consists of over 60 games mainly from Sega.

App Store (tvOS)

The App Store is a digital distribution platform, developed and maintained by Apple Inc., for tvOS apps on its Apple TV digital media player. It was announced on September 9, 2015 at the Apple September 2015 event, alongside the 4th generation Apple TV.

DISCover

Digital Interactive Systems Corporation (or DISCover) is a company specializing in gaming technology for PCs. They are the creators of the DISCover technology which allow PC games to be played like a video game console. The technology, which features the "Drop and Play" engine, auto-plays CDs or DVDs and automates scripts for installing and updating games. Consoles with the engine connect to the Internet for game updates. This technology debuted at the 2003 Electronic Entertainment Expo.Machines using DISCover technology include the Apex Extreme, Alienware DHS 2 and DHS 5.In August 2007, DISCover announced that their Hardcore White-Label Gaming System, or HAWGS, technology would be used for FiringSquad's Ammo digital distribution service. The following month, on September 2007, the company disclosed the InstaPlay desktop client, which improves the ease of use for accessing games. DISCover chief executive officer David Ferrigno addressed Instaplay concerns and comparisons with other digital distribution services such as Direct2Drive and Steam.

Digital distribution in video games

In the video game industry, digital distribution is the process of delivering video game content as digital information, without the exchange or purchase of new physical media. This process has existed since the early 1980s, but it was only with network advancements in bandwidth capabilities in the early 2000s that digital distribution became more prominent as a method of selling games. Currently, the process is dominated by online distribution over broadband internet.

To facilitate the sale of games, various video game publishers and console manufacturers have created their own platforms for digital distribution. These platforms, such as Steam, Origin, and Xbox Live Marketplace, provide centralized services to purchase and download digital content for either specific video game consoles or PCs. Some platforms may also serve as digital rights management systems, limiting the use of purchased items to one account.

Digital distribution of video games is becoming increasingly common, with major publishers and retailers paying more attention to digital sales, including Steam, PlayStation Store, Amazon.com, GAME, GameStop, and others. According to study conducted by SuperData Research, the volume of digital distribution of video games worldwide was $6.2 billion per month in February 2016, and reached $7.7 billion per month in April 2017.

Digital download

Digital download may refer to:

Downloading, the processing of copying data to a computer from an external source

Digital distribution, a method of downloading software or audio-visual media as opposed to buying it at a traditional point of sale

Music download, a specific type of digital distribution

Downloadable content (DLC), downloadable media usually for a video game

Digital distribution in video games, the process of delivering video game content in a digital way

Discord (software)

Discord is a proprietary freeware VoIP application and digital distribution platform designed for video gaming communities, that specializes in text, image, video and audio communication between users in a chat channel. Discord runs on Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, Linux, and in web browsers. As of 14 March 2019, there are over 250 million unique users of the software.

GOG.com

GOG.com (formerly Good Old Games) is a digital distribution platform for video games and films. It is operated by GOG Sp. z o.o., a wholly owned subsidiary of CD Projekt based in Warsaw, Poland. GOG.com delivers DRM-free video games through its digital platform for Microsoft Windows, OS X and Linux. In March 2012, it began selling more recent titles such as Alan Wake, Assassin's Creed and the Metro Redux series, among many others.

GamersGate

GamersGate AB (formerly Gamer's Gate) is a Sweden-based online video game store offering electronic strategy guides and games for Windows, OS X, and Linux via direct download. It is a competitor to online video game services such as Steam, GOG.com, Direct2Drive, and Impulse.

GamersGate sells games for over 250 publishers and developers, including Electronic Arts, Atari, Bethesda Softworks, 2K Games, Ubisoft, SEGA, Capcom, Paradox Interactive and Epic Games as well as smaller independent developers such as 2D Boy, Jonathan Blow and Amanita Design. As of September 2014, there are over 6000 games available through GamersGate.

Indie game

An indie game (short for independent video game) is a video game that is most often created without the financial support of a publisher, although some games funded by a publisher are still considered independent. These games often focus on innovation and rely on digital distribution. Indie gaming saw a rise in mainstream popularity in the latter half of the 2000s, primarily due to new online distribution methods and widely available video game development tools.Some indie games, such as Undertale, Braid, World of Goo, Minecraft, and Cuphead have been financially successful.

List of mobile app distribution platforms

This list of mobile app distribution platforms includes digital distribution platforms that are intended to provide mobile apps to mobile devices. For information on each mobile platform and its market share see the operating systems section of the mobile operating system and smartphone. A comparison of development capabilities of each mobile platform can be found in the article mobile development. For cross-platform development see multiple phone web-based application framework. The article mobile software contains other general information.

List of video game websites

This is a list of video gaming-related websites. A video game is an electronic game that involves human interaction with a user interface to generate visual feedback on a video device such as a TV screen or computer monitor. The word video in video game traditionally referred to a raster display device, but it now implies any type of display device that can produce two- or three-dimensional images.

Microsoft Store (digital)

Microsoft Store (formerly known as Windows Store) is a digital distribution platform sponsored by Microsoft. It started as an app store for Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012 as the primary means of distributing Universal Windows Platform (UWP) apps. With Windows 10, Microsoft merged its other distribution platforms (Windows Marketplace, Windows Phone Store, Xbox Video and Xbox Music and eventually Xbox Store) into Microsoft Store, making it a unified distribution point for apps, digital videos, digital music, console games, and e-books (until category removal in 2019).As of 2015, there were over 669,000 apps available on the store. Categories containing the largest number of apps are "Games", "Entertainment", "Books and Reference", and "Education". The majority of the app developers have one app.

As with other similar platforms, such as the Mac App Store and Google Play, Microsoft Store is curated and apps must be certified for compatibility and content. In addition to the user-facing Microsoft Store client, the store also has a developer portal with which developers can interact. Microsoft takes 30% of the sale price for apps. Prior to January 1, 2015, this cut was reduced to 20% after the developer's profits reached $25,000.

Origin (digital distribution software)

Origin is an online gaming, digital distribution and digital rights management (DRM) platform developed by Electronic Arts that allows users to purchase games for PC and mobile platforms. A macOS client was released on February 8, 2013.Origin contains social features such as profile management, networking with friends with chat and direct game joining along with an in-game overlay, streaming via TwitchTV and sharing of game library and community integration with networking sites like Facebook, Xbox Live, PlayStation Network, and Nintendo Network. In 2011, Electronic Arts stated that it wanted Origin to match Valve Corporation's Steam service, Origin's primary competitor, by adding cloud game saves, auto-patching, achievements, and cross-platform releases. By 2013, Origin had over 50 million registered users.

PC game

A PC game, also known as a computer game or personal computer game, is a video game played on a personal computer rather than a dedicated video game console or arcade machine. Its defining characteristics include: more diverse and user-determined gaming hardware and software; and generally greater capacity in input, processing, and video output. The uncoordinated nature of the PC game market, and now its lack of physical media, make precisely assessing its size difficult.

Home computer games became popular following the video game crash of 1983, leading to the era of the "bedroom coder". In the 1990s, PC games lost mass-market traction to console games, before enjoying a resurgence in the mid-2000s through digital distribution.Newzoo reports that the PC gaming sector is the third-largest category (and estimated in decline) across all platforms as of 2016, with the console sector second-largest, and mobile/smartphone gaming sector biggest. 2.2 billion video gamers generate US$101.1 billion in revenue, excluding hardware costs. "Digital game revenues will account for $94.4 billion or 87% of the global market. Mobile is the most lucrative segment, with smartphone and tablet gaming growing 19% year on year to $46.1 billion, claiming 42% of the market. In 2020, mobile gaming will represent just more than half of the total games market. [...] China expected to generate $27.5 billion, or one-quarter of all revenues in 2017."PC gaming is considered synonymous (by Newzoo and others) with IBM Personal Computer compatible systems; while mobile computers – smartphones and tablets, such as those running Android or iOS – are also personal computers in the general sense. The APAC region was estimated to generate $46.6 billion in 2016, or 47% of total global video game revenues (note, not only "PC" games). China alone accounts for half of APAC's revenues (at $24.4 billion), cementing its place as the largest video game market in the world, ahead of the US's anticipated market size of $23.5 billion. China is expected to have 53% of its video game revenues come from mobile gaming in 2017 (46% in 2016).

Pirated movie release types

Pirated movie release types are the different types of pirated movies that end up on the internet. They vary wildly in rarity and quality due to the different sources and methods used for acquiring the video content, in addition to encoding formats. Pirated movie releases may be derived from cams, which have distinctly low quality; screener and workprint discs or digital distribution copies (DDC), telecine copies from analog reels, video on demand (VOD) or TV recordings, and DVD and Blu-Ray rips.

The Big Beat 1963

The Big Beat 1963 is a compilation album released on December 17, 2013 exclusively through digital distribution. It features selections of early demos and recordings made by Brian Wilson in the early 1960s with such acts as the Beach Boys and the Honeys.The compilation's release came as a result of revised European copyright laws, forcing some labels to publish unreleased archival material so that they will not lose their copyright.

The Orchard (company)

The Orchard is an American music and entertainment company, specializing in media distribution, marketing, and sales. The company is a wholly owed subsidiary of Sony Music Entertainment, based in New York City. In 2019, the company exited film and television.

TuneCore

TuneCore is a Brooklyn, New York-based independent digital music distribution, publishing, and licensing service founded in 2005. TuneCore principally offers musicians and other rights-holders the opportunity to distribute and sell or stream their music through online retailers such as iTunes, Deezer, Spotify, Amazon Music, Google Play, Tidal, and others. TuneCore also offers music publishing administration services, helping songwriters register their compositions and collect royalties internationally.The company currently operates out of its Brooklyn headquarters with offices in Austin, Burbank, Boston, Nashville, Atlanta, Australia, Germany, France and the United Kingdom.

VyRT

VyRT is an American provider of on-demand Internet streaming media available to viewers worldwide. The company was established in late 2011 and is headquartered in Los Angeles, California. VyRT was founded by entertainer Jared Leto as a website for hosting online events, but soon diversified into featuring digital distribution and online shopping. It also includes social networking.

By 2015, VyRT was receiving 3.5 million requests per minute and had surpassed 5,000 subscribers. Many of its live events became worldwide trending topics.

E-book digital distribution platforms
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Discontinued
Music digital distribution platforms
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Discontinued
Software distribution platforms and content delivery networks
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Discontinued
Video digital distribution platforms
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Paid
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Licenses
Compensation models
Delivery methods
Deceptive and/or illicit
Software release life cycle
Copy protection

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