Dino Patti, CEO of Playdead, the independent Danish developer of downloadable hit Limbo, has said the retail model is "broken from a developer's point of view."
Speaking to Eurogamer at last weekend's GameCity6 festival in Nottingham, Patti called on platform holders to more fully embrace digital distribution in the next generation of consoles.
"The retail model has always been, and still is, broken from a developer's point of view," he said. "Driving discs in a big van all over the world is really inefficient. I don't understand how anyone can make money out of this.
"Driving a truck to Japan just to get it delivered to people when they can get it from the 'net? Hopefully the new consoles will embrace the download space even more."
Those platform holders, of course, rely on retail to promote and sell their hardware, meaning discs are here to stay, for the time being at least. Patti does not dispute that, but sees a sad irony in continuing to push discs as the primary means of distribution when consoles are becoming less and less immediate, with installs, patches and other content downloads meaning the disc is just the beginning.
"There will be discs for a long time from now, but the world has adopted download," he said. "So many publishers are pushing [discs] and there are so many channels which just won't die. In terms of money, it's still bigger than download. There are a lot of people who buy their games that way.
"I hate to have the disc myself. I only buy the disc if I want a console game, but everything else I download from Steam. All of the new games today also need to be installed. Why did I get a console if the games need to be installed? That really sucks. That's a PC.
"It should be more like plug and play. The first consoles were cartridges. When it takes one hour to install Gran Turismo 5? I don't know. Obviously it improves performance, but they should be able to build consoles with better performance from the disc drive."
Of course, it's easy for Patti to say this, not only as the owner of a studio that only releases digitally, but also as a relatively young company. Unlike traditional publishers, Playdead does not have to worry about long-established, well-valued relationships with bricks-and-mortar retailers; it is not dependent on strong first-week sales for its games to succeed. They sit on the download services forever, and can regain marketplace prominence with short-term discounts or, in Limbo's case, with a release on other platforms long after their console equivalents have been consigned to the pre-owned bins.
Yet he is right. Currently, traditional publishers are trying to appease retailers scared of the rise of digital while also building a digital presence of their own. Inevitably, this compromise means missteps on both sides: on one hand, day-one digital releases that are more expensive than at retail; retailer-specific pre-order bonuses, such as those in Batman: Arkham City, on the other. Playdead, and the rest of the new breed of all-digital, independent developers and self-publishers, are arguably better positioned for growth than their long-established peers.