Paradox Interactive, publisher of games like Magicka and Mount and Blade, says it no longer needs retail support. "Retail sales are like a bonus for now," Fredrik Wester, CEO of Paradox told PC Gamer, revealing that 90% of the company's revenue now comes through digital distribution sales. "We don’t really need retailers any more."
Obviously, digital distribution bypasses many of the hurdles that retail releases require: there are no discs to print, no boxes to ship, and having to fight for coveted shelf space. However, Wester suggests that digital distribution affords game creators greater creative freedom. "People complain to publishers that there are only sequels on the market, but that’s because retailers want to see sequels, because they can do their chart diagrams for how things sell and things like that," he added. "So one of the things preventing more creative gaming has been the retail challenge."
It's unlikely that a game like Magicka, a quirky co-op adventure game, would have found success in a market largely determined by retail. It has gone on to sell more than 600,000 copies since release. It later received a tongue-in-cheek expansion pack, "Vietnam."