Once or twice per year, I get the opportunity to attend really interesting conferences, one of which is the annual computer games conference in Edinburgh, which I attended today. This year's Edinburgh Interactive 2010 was very good and covered such things as games design, distribution, and business models. You also got the chance to see about-to-be-released games.
The presentations were particularly good this year, especially the ones on digital distribution and business models. 62% of computer games are now downloaded (rather than purchased in a shop) and the presenter claimed that in future games would be installation-free -- played entirely online without the need to download anything. He pointed out that at present we have a mixed economy (physical products and digital downloads) but that the future would be entirely digital.
The talk about business models was fascinating. The speaker argued that we need to focus on high value customers and stop treating everyone the same. He spoke about the "LTV" ("life time value") of customers and advocated that games should be free to play but then make money through online/virtual purchases. He pointed out that some players of World of Warcraft spent thousands of dollars in the game. Computer games only need to convert a small proportion of the free gamers to high value lifetime customers to make a lot of money.
Both these presentations (digital distribution and online business models) are relevant to more than the games industry. I can see how it could be applied to SQA products and services.