EA, Sega get into digital distribution

Gaming publishers take different approaches in first explorations of expanding market.

Today digital distribution is a couple of steps closer to becoming as common a way to get games as going to the store or ordering online. Publishing giant Electronic Arts is offering a game for sale and download online for the first time, while Sega of America has begun digital delivery of a handful of PC titles both old and new through its online store.

EA is now allowing gamers to prepurchase and predownload its upcoming Battlefield 2: Special Forces expansion pack from its official site. By dropping the $29.99 now, gamers can download the expansion to their computers and be among the first to play it when the retail version of the game officially launches at 1 p.m. EST on November 22 (European gamers will have to wait until the retail version hits stores overseas November 25). On Thursday, EA will expand its digital delivery options to include The Sims 2 Holiday Party Pack for $14.99.

Meanwhile, Sega has enlisted the help of e-commerce outsourcing firm Digital River to build an online store for its PC games. Currently the site offers a number of older Sega arcade games for sale alongside its more recent Sports Interactive management simulation games. Prices range from $9.99 for the original Virtua Fighter or PC ports of Virtua Cop 1 and 2 to $29.99 for NHL Eastside Hockey Manager 2005 or Worldwide Soccer Manager 2006. PC versions of the original House of the Dead ($12.99) and House of the Dead 2 ($14.99) are also available, with more games to be added in the future.

For more on the rise of digital distribution and the ways in which gaming companies are looking to take advantage of it, check out GameSpot's recent feature on the subject.

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