In yesterday's Variety, Ben Fritz speculated that internet-enabled game systems such as the spanking-new Xbox 360 and the much-anticipated PS3 could turn out to be the distribution systems of the future. Amongst the highlights:
- 360 as legal download device. "Thanks to Xbox Live [Microsoft's private internet experience for 360 users], the 360 stands between the Internet and the TV, making it a powerful delivery mechanism for any form of media." Fritz tells us to expect official, downloadable content for the 360 soon, starting with game-related peripherals, but potentially including movies-on-demand at some point down the line.
- Gaming is only the beginning. Fritz uggests that with devices like the 360 (and soon, the PS3) any and all gaming applications are merely "Trojan horses to get Microsoft and Sony devices into as many homes as possible." He posits that if studios want the valuable, young male demographic to watch their films, they'll go out of their way to make the content available on Sony's PS3-compatible Blu-Ray DVD, or format their media for delivery via Xbox Live.
- People don't want to go to the movies? Fine. Fritz notes the "irony" in the fact that Sony – the most struggling studio in a distribution climate that can only be described as generally bad – is soon to launch the PS3, which will stoke the stay-at-home fires. But maybe they know what they're doing: "[I]t could also be seen as a savvy company recognizing fresh potential. Rather than fight a new technology – as studios have done with every innovation from radio through the Internet – Sony and most of its competitors are jumping on the bandwagon when it comes to gamers."
- Gaming is already changing the way Hollywood thinks about content. Fritz cites several examples of movie producers planning game production into film production, including the new King Kong game, which incorporates graphics designed by Weta for Peter Jackson's film. Disney, too, is getting in on the act; Fritz quotes their senior VP of games: "We're looking at sharing tools with our feature animation division to help produce higher quality games within the time frames we have."