Since I first heard about Taito’s new arcade-based download service NESiCAxLive back in September, I’ve been eager to see the time when it would be in operation and how it would all work out. That day has finally arrived as Taito launches the service in Japan with the latest part of the BlazBlue series, Blazblue Continuum Shift 2, as a launch title. Throughout the week many other titles will be made available to operators in Japan, who can download either a demo of a game or a full copy. There is a small fee charged to the players for using the service – operators simply need to have the hardware in place and an internet connection.
As an operator myself I am very interested in seeing how this will work out and if it will be successful as I would love to see something similar here in the US. I know that there would be resistance towards such a platform from certain circles, particularly those opposed to direct sales where a game goes from the manufacturer straight to the operator. I don’t believe that such a system would render non-download games obsolete(just as in the PC and console industry people still like to own physical copies of games), it certainly wouldn’t eliminate cabinets with specialized controls and/or hardware and it could never replace redemption, pinball, air hockey or other similar content. You also have many places out there which simply don’t want to or can’t put their games online for particular reasons. The benefits in lower prices, try-before-you-buy with the players, opportunities for small developers/studios to bring a game to market and expanded game content are all aspects of a download service like NESiCA that deserve serious consideration by the industry. Yes the service could prove to be a disruption in the way things are done, much like the Nintendo Wii “disrupted” how things are done in the console industry, but we can adapt, much like they did and see growth from it.