From the Globe and Mail:
"...Patapon 2 would seem to be an experiment designed to test the viability of a download-only delivery model. To be sure, Sony--as well as Microsoft and Nintendo-have been offering downloadable game software for a few years now via their online stores. However, with very few exceptions--such as last year's Siren: Blood Curse (a 10-gigabyte zombie horror game released in three discrete chunks for a total of $45) for PlayStation 3--most of the titles available through these services are small and short; casual games not meant to satisfy a player looking for the next Halo, Killzone, or even Mario game. Patapon 2, though by no means giant, is one of the first games released solely via download for a console or handheld gaming system that normally would have been distributed through traditional retail channels.
The appeal of the download delivery model to game publishers should be obvious. For starters, it eliminates the manufacturing costs associated with producing discs, print materials, and packaging. It also cuts out expenses that go along with distributing product through brick-and-mortar retailers. And with no hard copies, players can't resell their games--a practice that game publishers claim eats deeply into their profits every year (Microsoft, for example, not only gets no cut when a store such as EB Games sells a previously-owned copy of Halo 3, but also loses revenue from customers who would potentially have bought the game new had no used copies been available).
The benefits for the consumer are less clear..."