Now that we are officially in the next-generation of gaming (do we now call it the current generation or..?), we have to realize that things are changing. Yes, the Playstation and Xbox have grown from loud little machines to powerhouse multimedia centres that can allow for multiple services and applications and most importantly, purchasing games online; it’s not just all about just playing games anymore. So this raises the question; do you think you will break away from purchasing traditional physical console copies or move into the “future” and buy digital copies?
Before I begin, can I just point out that, to a PC gamer, this must seem like an absolute Neanderthal level of questioning. One of the huge advantages of PC gaming is buying digital copies in bulk through Steam Sales or Humble Bundles but PC’s are optimized to deal with digital files quicker than a physical copy. Yet for a console, compared to a PC where digital is clearly the winner, both digital and physical have their pros and cons. So how about it? Digital or physical for consoles? Let’s talk.
Let’s talk old school and begin with purchasing physical copies. I believe that one of the main features of purchasing physical copies is the fact that is a physical item that you can hold in your hands. Once it’s in your hands, it’s yours forever. Sure, it may seem like a banal feature but some people can appreciate having something physical as opposed to something digital that is locked behind a computer file. It means that the game is theirs forever and is tied down to any account; it is free for them to lend to anyone for an unlimited number of times. Having physical copies does allow for more freedom compared to digital copies.
Moving on, I think that digital gaming still has a long way to come on consoles. Overpriced, bad selections and not enough sales can leave the Xbox Games Store and Playstation Store a little lacking in comparison to the PC behemoth Steam, GOG, Desura, Green Man Gaming, Humble Bundles and the Humble Store. While it’s essential to improve on the price, more variety in where we purchase our games is needed now more than ever. The next-gen consoles need their own “Steam” equivalent. However, it doesn’t seem like it’s gonna happen anytime soon. Have you seen the prices for the EA games for PS4 games? At least £59.99 which equates to about €75 which equates to around $100. That’s right. And that’s just for one game! As a person who loves getting a good deal, I’m hard pressed to find any form of value on the console’s stores. You’re paying too much for a game you can get cheaper for pre-owned in a month’s time.
Yet that can all change. Since next-gen is in its infancy, the opportunity for someone to release a marketplace that blows the current one out of the water. Let’s hope that the Gaikai service for the PS4 works because that could be the budding powerhouse that will allow for good value/bundles for games.
So, what does digital have to offer? Well, speaking from experience as a PS3 owner, you can sign up for Playstation Plus and get free games every month. That’s a great bonus right there. And Microsoft are implementing something similar with their Xbox Live Gold subscriptions. Additionally, purchasing certain games on the PS Store will allow for “cross buying” meaning that you can play the game you bought on PS3 or PS Vita, and now even PS4; you get two (or even three) ways to play your games. The system is convenient and works. On top of all this, digital games means no clutter around your personal gaming space. If you’re a person who values your space and hates organizing games, then digital is a good option. All the games are stored in a way for you to access easily in a folder on your console. Digital has convenience going for it but you do lose out on the “classic” feel of a physical copy.
So, to summarize, I think that physical still has the edge over digital. Physical copies can be sold in multiple retailers at various prices which can allow for a bit of flexibility in your choosing compared to buying digital. However, digital is more efficient and convenient than physical and frankly, all it needs is more competitive prices to help give it the advantage over physical.
But that’s just what I think. Am I completely wrong or is there any sense in my rambling? Will digital have its day or is it dead before it’s even out the door? Let me know your opinions in the comments below!