The release of Battlefield 1943 reminds me that the digital downloads and the shift away from physical packaging. What exactly are people buying when they pay for a digital download?
Content - The initial game content itself
Multiplayer service - Ability to socialise with other players
Additional content - Post release extra maps, mods, content update
Technical Support - Patches
For a game with a one off purchase, gamers expect the company to provide all of these services for a year or two minimum. Gamers expect a subscription based service like massively multiplayer service to continually provide all of these as long as they pay.
Most companies like EA and Activision are starting to realise that selling a game isn't just like selling a bicycle or a music CD. It isn't quite like selling a service like power or a telecommunications package either. It's somewhere inbetween.