Former DOOM and Quake designer American McGee thinks that retail is an outdated model and in Shanghai (where he lives and does business with his company Spicy Horse) no one buys games anywhere but online. In an interview with Industry Gamers McGee said that retail is just a place in China where everyone manhandles merchandise they want before they go home and buy it online.
"In the (not so?) distant future there wouldn't be much need for a bricks-and-mortar retailer. Why waste resources on a physical location and unreliable employees when the entire experience can be made sharper, cleaner and more entertaining in the virtual representation? China provides a working model of the store-less retail model -- millions of people purchase real-world items online (taobao.com) each day - making Western electronic stores like Best Buy nothing more than places to fondle physical goods you're going to buy online anyway (Best Buy went out of business in China in less than 2 years, by the way)."
When asked how long it will be until the video game industry goes completely digital McGee responded by saying that - at least where he lives - that time is now.
"I live in China, that future is already here, and it's pretty cool actually."
Of course, developers are fond of pronouncing genres and business models dead. While retail may take a hit from digital distribution - soon to stand its long shadow by year's end, no doubt - retailers that are smart (like GameStop) will evolve and grow their market share.
You can read the entire interview here. McGee also talks about gaming in the cloud, freemium games, the everlasting love that consumers have for the PC and more.
Source: Industry Gamers