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Game Publishers Drop Printed Manuals

March 22, 2011

Game manualsPrinted game manuals, once elaborate and a fundamental aspect of a software package, are being cut from new releases from Electronic Arts and other video game publishers in the name of environmental friendliness.

According to video-game blog Kotaku, EA will began this new trend with its latest release in its Fight Night series. Whereas previous releases often carried a DVD-sized manual (often in English and French versions to comply with Canadian language laws), all instructions will now be provided within the game.

At its height and most famously in 1998, Falcon 4.0, a flight simulation game, shipped with a complete 300+ page flight manual in a binder. Since then, however, the video game world has faced a downsizing of printed materials when PC-based games switched to a more compact, standardized package in 2000. Today, many major titles see simutaneous digital download releases, further reducing package and manual printing. Console-based games have also seen reduced printing, but have always shipped with DVD or CD jewel-case formats, will now ship with only a disc and a printed DVD cover.

In April of last year, major game publisher Ubisoft also announced it will do away with printed manuals: "Ubisoft is often recognized for making great games, but it's a special privilege to be the industry leader at saving trees," said Laurent Detoc, President of Ubisoft North America. "Eco-friendly initiatives are important to the global community and introducing in-game digital manuals on Xbox 360 and PS3 is just the latest example of Ubisoft's ongoing commitment to being a more environmentally conscious company."

The video game sector is estimated to be more than US$60 billion in size, and sales are looking to overtake that of the music industry, reaching an estimated US$70 billion, in 2015.

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