By now, this point should be drilled into game makers' skulls. The games industry has morphed into a service-based business. Downloadable content matters. Not only does it increase the longevity of titles both on and off the retail shelf--driving new game sales and preventing trade-ins--it is also an easy way to squeeze out some extra cash from that big-budget boxed product. Hell. A lot of cash.
Activision has announced that the first chunk of downloadable content for Call of Duty World At War, Map Pack 1, has now sold 2 million units. That $9.99 pack of four maps has generated nearly $20 million.
It's another sign that downloadable content is turning into a big business. John Riccitiello, chief executive of Electronic Arts, stated during the company's earnings call that all Electronic Arts titles would be open to digital expansions. Game downloads and microtransactions generated $80 million in revenues for the company last year, and Riccitiello expects EA's online business to exceed $500 million this fiscal year.

Some game players may grimace at the thought of spending extra cash for new maps, but it's a good thing for the industry as it's another revenue model it can turn to "boxed product" business begins to dwindle.