Digital distribution

Digital distribution ( in engl. Digitally distribution ) stands for the direct distribution of digital content over the Internet, a transfer of physical media ( such as a sales box with a DVD) will not take place. It has yet achieved no unified name for this form of distribution and is therefore known inter alia as Electronic Software Delivery, electronic software distribution, online distribution, direct download service etc.. Digital distribution has not only economic and environmental benefits and is thus an Green IT measure.


Among the digital distribution software or digital multimedia content (or licenses to use these ) be purchased online and paid for. Advantage for the buyer is that the digital goods bought with relatively little expenditure of time, can be downloaded and used immediately. In most cases, no shipping and handling fees are overdue, as is dispensed as opposed to retail boxes or software licenses to the dispatch of a media kit (CD or DVD), as well as a physical manual. In addition to software digital products like e -books, music (eg MP3), videos, computer games and so on marketed in this way on the Internet.

Medium provides digital distribution in connection with the constant expansion of bandwidth on the Internet an environmentally friendly and cost effective alternative to the software packages / boxes in stores. In most cases, purchased licenses to be registered until the use of the software, as is the case with commercial boxes. This is an advantage over traditional software licenses ( on the retail registered document with permission of use of software components ) that need to be registered in most cases at the time of order.

Music Industry

In the field of music was one of the first Apple in 2003, who took up the already illegal music sharing networks such as Napster back then in the late 1990s practiced model of digital music distribution, with its commercial iTunes Store. Originally mostly distributed with DRM -enabled formats such as WMA or AAC, are now finding the MP3 format and / or pricing flat rates in digital music and eBook distribution becoming more prevalent.

Since the launch of digital distribution, more and more artists and music labels use the digital distribution without traditional record contracts, and sell your ebooks and music itself to the download stores and portals. So-called self- publisher use this digital distribution portals such Feiyr or The Orchard.

As a result of the growing importance of direct digital music and eBook distribution and the ongoing consolidation in working in the music distribution or sale of the company is seen, for example, August 2008 to the end of the Canadian music chain Sam the Record Man.

Computer game industry

The introduction and expansion of online distribution channels alter the structure of the entire computer games industry. Rapidly rising costs for the production of commercial games (since 1997 increase up to thirty times ) lead the publishers to a strategy of risk avoidance, which is why these innovative ideas from the fear of losses tend to disagree. The act online distribution channels such as the Stardock Central ( later called impulses ) or Valve's Steam forward with the first provider early 2000s, strong by lowering the distribution costs.

" The most difficult time for developers was during the cartridge games for the Nintendo, the money, the publisher was stored in the form of silicon in the warehouses. You could not take any chances, so was strictly conservative in things that worked. With Steam is now exactly the opposite is the case, you can try everything without losing money. Due to the unlimited shelf space Steam is interesting for old, obsolete games. "

With digital distribution, not only developers can take greater risks, including those for commercialization of small-scale development projects, such as Independent Developer Studio ( Humble Bundle) or for hobby and Mod developers will be significantly reduced. This allowed, for example, the success of Garry's Mod Originally created as a pet project of a single hobby developer, the mod now sold over 1.4 million times.

Personal computer

There are significant differences in the approaches and policies of the digital distribution provider. In Steam, an integrated platform approach is attempted, which includes a proprietary client following functionality: online distribution, maintenance ( patching ) and monitoring (DRM ) of the Games, as well as the communication between the players, the formation of communities and the provision of publicly viewable player profiles. Good Old Games is a conscious DRM-free provider who relies on standard Web technologies and specializes in the DOS and Windows games segment of the 1980s and 1990s has (Retro Gaming ). Green Man Gaming allows the resale of its online licenses, while the purchased licenses inextricably connected with most other providers with a personalized user account and are not transferable or further sale. The Humble Indie Bundle (short: HIB) relies on the Pay- What-You- Want- principle and involved non-profit or charitable organizations, such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation, in the revenue. In addition, the HIB an event character, such as games was at some offers crowdfunding like released under an open source license from certain sums reached there. Desura is a digital distributor which is characterized by a broad cross-platform offering, strong support for mods and an open-source client.

Game consoles

In the console pane was already the Intellivision in 1981 with the help of online services PlayCable over the network of the U.S. cable television, the ability to download games on their console. Since the late 1980s there were increasingly vendor-specific digital software download services, such as for the consoles from Sega and Nintendo, who are under the full control of the hardware manufacturer. Initially, however, was often lacking the ability to save the downloaded contents permanently, which necessitated the re-download the content for each game session. Newer services such as Xbox Live (since 2002 ), or the PlayStation Network ( since 2006) are now available across generations and hardware for both stationary and handheld consoles.