THQ CEO Brian Farrell predicts disc-free future, talks Saints Row DLC

By Stephany Nunneley
8 September 2011 15:36 GMT

THQ CEO Brian Farrell believes that eventually, consoles will no longer require discs and will instead support cloud gaming, the result of which would mean a reduction in cost for publishers with the savings trickling down to consumers.

To the Cloud

Speaking during a keynote during Cloud Gaming USA in San Jose, California, Farrell postulated the lower cost would remove the entry barrier to gaming and provide more “mass market adoption,” as the physical goods cost for game makers would be removed.

“No inventory, no markdowns, and all the money spent by the consumer would go to the developer or publisher,” he said, via “Our games are always on and our players are always connected….We have the opportunity to interact with players in new ways that can be reactive to their desires, play habits, and buying habits.

“The box, ship and done model is transitioning to: observe, measure, and modify, [to] a games as a service model where direct consumer feedback allows the ability to operate in this always on, always connected environment.

“Technology alone will not give a clear benefit to the consumer. Cloud computing and data storage could potentially do a lot, but it’s what we do with it as game designers and publishers that really matters most.”

Farrell also believes this would allow for more post-launch content through a “digital ecosystem,” which would keep the consumer interested in the product “for almost a year, perhaps even longer.”

“And we expect most of our large console games going forward will extend the base experience with DLC packs,” he said. “Things like online in-game storage, and consumables and other online items that will go on for at least a year post-release.”

Purple dildos and thugs

Continuing on the subject of post-launch content, Farrell also reaffirmed during his keynote that Saints Row: The Third will have more than 40 weeks of DLC, “which will grow and change the experience as the consumer engages with the game.”

Extending a game’s lifespan with consumers through multiple DLC releases is just one of the ways THQ is changing it’s business model. During a call to investors last year, Farrell said the firm expected its digital sales to double in 2011, and continue “across a broad spectrum of areas with a lot of DLC for our key franchises.”

In July, Farrell said the firm expects strong revenue and profit with Saint’s Row: The Third, and with the firm planning to release a year’s worth of DLC, the digital revenues from it could help the company achieve the predicted doubling of digital sales.

However, digital DLC sales will only grow if Saints Row: The Third is a quality product consumers wish to purchase DLC for; thus the reason THQ’s working with Volition to make sure a high quality bar is set, using former Metacritic ratings for the series as something to mirror.

As of July, pre-orders for the title surpassed the previous Saints Row entry, and there are still a least a couple of months to go before the game is released on November 15 in the US and November 18 in the UK.

Saints Row games have sold over 5.4 million copies worldwide so far, and Saints Row 2 sold one million units more than the original.

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