Blockbuster U.S. leaves physical retail, 2800 jobs lost

300 stores and remaining distribution centres to close by January 2014


The Dish Network will close all remaining Blockbuster retail stores and distribution centres in the U.S., resulting in the loss of thousands of jobs.

Dish will call time on its Blockbuster retail business in January, 2014, with the DVD-by-mail service scheduled to close one month before. In total, around 2800 jobs will be lost in the process.

“This is not an easy decision, yet consumer demand is clearly moving to digital distribution of video entertainment,” said Dish CEO Joseph P. Clayton. “Despite our closing of the physical distribution elements of the business, we continue to see value in the Blockbuster brand, and we expect to leverage that brand as we continue to expand our digital offerings.”

Dish acquired Blockbuster for $320 million at auction after it filed for bankruptcy in September, 2010. Since then, the business has continued to struggle, trimming or selling assets both in the U.S. and abroad.

Blockbuster will continue to trade through its digital-only services, Blockbuster @Home and Blockbuster On Demand.


Grand Theft Auto V street dates broken all over the world. Would digital copies have prevented this from happening?

Some people will do anything to get their hands on an early copy of the new Grand Theft Auto.Rockstar Games

Grand Theft Auto V, the fifth in a series of joyously violent games in which players control crime syndicates and wreak havoc upon cities, is among the most eagerly anticipated games ever released. It went on sale today and is expected to rake in $1.6 billion in sales in its first year, handsomely repaying its $270 million production budget. But some gamers have already been playing it for days, after several retailers broke an embargo set by its publisher, Rockstar Games. In Britain, a few customers who placed early orders on Amazon received their copies in the post on Saturday, Sept. 14, three days before retailers were allowed to sell the game. Another British retailer has been selling the early version for £75 ($119), a 50% markup over Amazon’s prices.

French retailers also sold the game early. Maxxi Games, a retailer in the République neighborhood of Paris, summoned customers via its Facebook page on Saturday:

It’s going on right now!!!
Come pick up your game at the nearest Maxxi games


Other shops were more subtle. Le Figaro reports (link in French) that Trader Games, also in the 11th arrondissement of Paris, told its Facebook followers to “come now” and “not say more,” though that post has since been removed (broken link).  Salomé Lagresle, a French games blogger, reported via Twitter on what buying the game on Saturday was like. “There’s a line all the way down [Boulevard] Voltaire. The impression is of buying contraband in opaque bags,” she wrote, and added that ”To get the game, you must pay cash, go into a room at the back of the shop, and you come out with a purple bag.”

Another French tweeter was more explicit: ”Fuck, we’re not waiting for the 17th.”

Nique, on attends pas le 17 nous #GTAV #GTA5
Grey Goose (@Tha_Grey_Goose) September 14, 2013

Rockstar has not responded kindly to the leaks. Early videos from the game have been taken down at the publisher’s request. Some websites report that people who played the game early on Microsoft’s Xbox gaming console and posted videos of it online had their accounts banned.

These problems stem from the fact that even though the technology used in creating games like Grand Theft Auto is cutting-edge, the technology for selling them is somewhat archaic.  While music is increasingly sold in digital form, big-ticket games like GTA still come mostly in shrink-wrapped boxes. If games publishers want to guarantee a single release date—which helps both build buzz and protect against piracy—they need to move to a digital-first distribution model, argues games writer Matt Martin. Making a download available at the same instant worldwide would prevent anyone from getting an early copy.

Yet if the industry is stuck in the past it’s also because gamers themselves seem unwilling to change their habits. In an online poll by, a site for aficionados of the Grand Theft Auto series, just 12% of respondents said they would buy GTA V as a download.

That is perhaps because the industry’s efforts have so far been heavy-handed. When Microsoft announced the new Xbox in May, it was instantly subjected to a barrage of criticism because the console required players to connect to the internet once every 24 hours, an impracticality for many gamers. It also placed limits on how players could share or trade games. Microsoft eventually had to backtrack.

A more sensible approach would be to make digital versions of the game cheaper and turn physical copies into something of a collector’s item, as the music industry has done. Indeed, Rockstar has published a deluxe edition of GTA V. But it didn’t make its digital edition any cheaper.



Microsoft responds to Sony jab on policy reversals

Phil Spencer says changes to Xbox One show the strength of Microsoft’s “two-way conversation” with customer base

Phil Spencer

Sony Computer Entertainment’s Andrew House wrapped up the company’s Gamescom presentation yesterday by delivering two things: the release date of the PlayStation 4 and a pointed takedown of Microsoft’s reversals on the Xbox One.

“While others have shifted their message and changed their story, we were consistent in maintaining a message that is fair and in tune with consumer desires,” House said.

Speaking with Eurogamer today, Microsoft Studios head Phil Spencer responded to the jab, reframing as a strength the same thing House painted as a weakness, calling it a “two-way conversation we have with our customers.”

“Certain people have tried to turn that into something that’s a bad thing about what we’re trying to do, and I just disagree,” Spencer said, adding, “That two-way conversation with gamers has to be core to who we are as a platform. And if we don’t have the capability of listening and reacting to what people are saying about our platform, then we’re being too disconnected from customers who make investments in our platform and the games we build.”

Spencer added that Xbox One is intended to be an ongoing service as much as a fixed piece of hardware, so changes should be expected. However, he did say there were some core parts of Microsoft’s plan for the console that won’t be changed.

“Now, we have a vision, and we’ve stayed on that vision around the digital ecosystem we want to put on Xbox Live,” Spencer said. “It remains a core philosophy. We heard people valued some of the existing generation’s disc-based DRM, so we said we’re going to add that to the digital ecosystem we’re building. It meant some delays in some of the stuff around digital so we could fit in the time to get physical done at launch, but our vision remains the same.”



All PlayStation 4 Games Downloadable, Will be on PSN Day 1, “They’re 50GB”

The PlayStation Vita is besting the PlayStation 3 in digital downloads, mostly due to the fact that all Vita titles are made available on the PlayStation Network on release day. Sony will now be continuing that strategy with the PlayStation 4, where every title will hit the PSN day one.

This news comes from a Shuhei Yoshida interview with The Guardian, where he was asked how important it was to help support small studios:

I believe it’s very important for the platform to have a wide variety of developers making things that are unique and creative. We’re shifting our platform more and more to the digital side – PS4 will be similar to PS Vita in that every game will be available as a digital download, and some will also be available as a disc. The Witness will be a digital release and because of the flexibility of the digital distribution scheme, we can have more small games that might be free or available for a couple of dollars, or different services like free-to-play or subscription models.

Shuhei then continued by answering a question if he thinks that the drawn out task of finding a game, downloading it, then downloading updates is a thing of the past:

Absolutely. Yes. I find myself spending more time playing Vita games and I think part of the reason for that is it’s immediate. I can stop at any time without quitting and it’s instantaneous to start again. I don’t have to quit out or reboot. It’s wonderful. That’s one part of immediacy – the other is waiting for downloads. That’s ridiculous, that’s crazy! We want to get out of this madness with PlayStation 4. The games are big, they’re 50GB; download isn’t instantaneous. So we’re making purchase available from any device, so when you’re at work, you can spend a couple of moments looking at PlayStation Store and choosing a game, and straight away it starts to download at home. It may take a couple of hours but that’s okay because you’re still at work.

Also, similarly to progressive download on some movie services, you don’t have to wait for all the data to download before you start playing. Once you have the minimum amount of data downloaded you can begin the game, and while you play, the remaining data downloads. It takes some engineering input from developers so we’re talking to the community. We’re evangelising it.

So, with the PS4, we can expect day one digital on every retail game, automatic downloads when you purchase a game from any device, and that the download sizes can reach 50GB.

Do you think you’ll be going digital or retail with PS4 games? Let us know in the comments below.



Splash Damage reveals new shooter Dirty Bomb with teaser trailer

Splash Damage has revealed it’s working on three multiplayer games which will be published by WarChest, a new company co-founded by the studio’s CEO, Paul Wedgwood.

Studio working on three multiplayer titles for iOS, PC-only, and consoles

The Brink developer has released a teaser trailer for new PC-only multiplayer shooter Dirty Bomb, which is powered by Unreal Engine and appears to be set in London, based on the image below.


Dirty Bomb Screenshot

The studio is also making a game for consoles, but its next release will be the newly announced RAD Soldiers, “referred to internally as ‘Guns with Friends'”, on iOS devices in June 2013.A press release describes WarChest as a publisher of “free digitally distributed games with high production values for all leading platforms”.

WarChest CEO Wedgwood said: “Gamers should be free to switch devices at will without leaving their favourite game universe and friends behind. Our strategy delivers meaningful experiences that contribute to player engagement and advancement, irrespective of their physical location.

“For WarChest’s games, our goal is connectedness – you might battle your friends via your smartphone or tablet in a turn-based tactics game during your commute, connect with them on your PC once you’re home, sneak into their base in their absence while playing on your console, and then share cool technology with them from your desktop browser at work.”

Source: CVG