As some of you might already know, in early July the Blizzard Store started a new service that allows you to register your CD keys and download copies of Blizzard’s popular titles digitally. This works great and I’ve used it to reinstall all of their old titles and play them more frequently now that I don’t need the CD (their latest patches around this time removed the CD check). This got me to thinking, will they allow you to buy Wrath online and download it in the same manner? That’s what Wrath of the Lich King beta testers are essentially doing now anyway. To be honest, I thought that was what they might do when The Burning Crusade came out.
Game makers stand to profit more through digital downloads anyway. They don’t have to pay as much for box production and shipping and finding retailers to stock their product (then again who wouldn’t stock a Blizzard product). And even though the Blizzard Store had quite a debacle with Blizzcon tickets, I’m sure it could handle the stress of a tiny torrent download file and allow the P2P blizzard patching client to handle the rest of the workload.
The potential downside would be you don’t have any material gains from it. You won’t have any box art or instruction manuals to admire. You’re not going to have a tiny pewter murloc to set on your desk from the collector’s edition (yes I made that up don’t get excited). Then again, why not? Perhaps there could be an extra fee involved where you download the game now while they ship you your box and CD’s in the next few weeks. Heck I would care if it didn’t show up for 3 months as long as I was playing. And another potential bonus, what about something special to show you bought it via digital download (a tabard or vanity pet).
What about if you were able to access the game before anyone else? This is what Valve had done in the past with their games on Steam. Some of them were available a full week in advance of store shelves. How would you like to be on the live servers, half way through outland on your Death Knight before the game even hits store shelves?