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Our Relationship With Physical Media Is About to Change

But that doesn't mean it's becoming less important. If anything, the opposite might be true.

When I buy a video game in a box these days, it's because of one reason: this game means enough to me that I want it taking up precious space in my apartment. I want it to exist outside of a hard drive. That feels real.

The death of physical media is coming, and not limited to games. It will impact every medium, and nothing can stop it. But death is such a hyperbolic term. It makes a good headline, it might underscore the broader trend, but it's also untrue. It's simply changing.

There might be a day when physical media ceases to exist, but I doubt it. What's released, however, might become more selective, targeting collectors and the nostalgic. Physical will become a premium that specific consumers pay for, and the rest move on. How do you explain the rising sales of vinyl music?

In the coming years, most of us will redefine our relationship with physical media. It's going to become more important. What we physically own will come to represent us in a brand-new way. It's no longer about access. The same way posters, action figures, and other accents are strategically placed in our apartments to materially represent our interests and values, physical media is joining that club.

The launch of EA Access, a new subscription service from the company that loves angering people with new subscription services, might be the company's most interesting offer yet. It doesn't offer anything I'd be willing to pay for, but as a thought experiment, it's fascinating. For a monthly ($4.99) or annual ($29.99) fee, subscribers gain access to The Vault, a selection of EA games currently limited to Battlefield 4, Peggle 2, FIFA 14, and Madden NFL 25. It's slim pickings at the moment, given EA's immense back catalog, but the The Vault's currently limited to what EA's published on Xbox One. That means no Dungeon Keeper or Wing Commander.

While I'd love a Netflix for games, we're years away from that, and individual publishers are probably not our best route there. Who wants to subscribe to a Universal Pictures subscription service? It's more likely EA Access provides a template for broader services, ones Sony is currently experimenting with through PlayStation Now. Only a few publishers could get away with charging individual subscriptions. The only one might be Nintendo. It's easier to imagine paying for a subscription with a rotating lineup (i.e. Netflix/PlayStation Now), and spending more to play what you want, when you want (i.e. PlayStation Network/iTunes).

I don't own many video games anymore, but that depends on our definition of ownership. Even though I've purchased numerous games on Steam, Xbox Live, and PSN, I don't own them. I've purchased a license to play them, a license that won't necessarily last forever, and nothing guarantees my previous purchases will work when the next wave of hardware arrives. That's been more and more true as hardware's grown more complex.

With the exception of media no longer working on new hardware, a situation more frequent for games, this paragraph could be rephrased to reflect the vast majority of my purchases today.

  • I don't own many movies anymore because I'm streaming on Netflix, Amazon, and iTunes.
  • I don't own many books anymore because I'm buying digitally from Amazon and iTunes.
  • I don't own many albums anymore because I'm streaming on Spotify and Pandora.

Each of these services are riddled with DRM, but it doesn't bother me. I get what I want at really great prices.

Here's a look at the shelf above my TV.

There's one other shelf in my home that has a stack of boxes. It's mostly horror and TV.

Both of those shelves are really important to me. It represents so much about me and my wife. There's limited space, which means what's there has importance. It's not the newest purchase, it's not a random selection, they're my favorites. If you look through that shelf, you can glean an idea of my tastes and values, and get a small understanding of who I am. Over time, that's where physical media is going: representing personality.

Puppet Master, Upright Citizens Brigade, Friday the 13th, X-Files, Futurama. That's me.

Catherine, BioShock, Prince of Persia (2008!!), Klonoa, Mirror's Edge, Dark Souls. That's me.

It's not a perfect system, of course. There are scads of digital games, books, and movies that I "own" not represented. Sometimes, I mull printing out box art, so games like Super Meat Boy or Journey can join them.

When I originally moved to San Francisco, most of my games were removed from cases, shoved into a binder, and thrown under a couch. Know how many times I opened up that binder? Probably twice. This wasn't a back catalog, it was diary of abandoned purchases, one I trimmed every time my wife and I moved. As we'd pack boxes, I'd look through our shelves, comb through the binder, and toss what I hadn't seen, played, or listened to. If I really wanted to play that copy of Viva Pinata that I'd been telling myself I'd eventually play, I'll buy it again.

This isn't everyone, of course. I'm painting with a broad brush. Lots of people like having collections. That's not me. That's OK! And there are reasons, even for me, to have small collections. I'm tired of purchasing Super Mario Bros. for every new platform Nintendo puts out, for example, so I'm happy to have a CRT with a bunch of old consoles hooked up to it. Sony and Microsoft are only going to port a handful of games from PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 onto the new platforms, so I'll need to keep them around, in case I want to play You Don't Know Jack.

I'm conveniently looking at the upside, but maybe that's because this transition already happened with books, movies, and music, while games lag behind. Specifically, it's console games. How many Steam users are upset over the death of the box? PC gaming used to be dying, now it's bigger than ever. Do you want a box or hundreds, if not thousands, of games for way cheaper? Give a little, gain a lot. It means the publishers gain more control, but consumers have benefited, too. Steam is DRM, but most are happy. The benefits of Steam have not totally trickled down to consoles, but it's coming. PlayStation Plus was the first sign, and Microsoft soon followed with Games with Gold. There will be much more of that.

Or maybe not. Maybe we'll give up control, games will be ruined, and we're all screwed. I'm an optimist!

The question is whether Microsoft, Sony, Nintendo, and publishers like EA can provide better reasons to choose digital. It has to be more than convenience. That's not much of a carrot anymore. EA Access provides a hint of where we're going. We'll see how quickly that happens, but we're marching (dragging?) in that direction.

In the meantime, I just looked at my shelf. Who wants a copy of Super Smash Bros. Brawl? I don't need it.

Patrick Klepek on Google+
233 Comments Refresh
Posted by sethshandor

I have a question.

If you could pay 60 dollars, and then once every year Giant Bomb mailed you a disc (or bunch of discs) with all of the premium content for that year loaded on there, would you prefer that to your subscription? Right now, you're paying for the content and you don't even own it. My sub ran out (and based on Vinny+Alex and Dan+Jeff videos, I think I'm gonna re-up) and I no longer have access to a number of cherished videos. But if you had the discs, they'd be yours and no one could take them away from you. Also, you'd be able to put it on your shelf, which seems to be important.

Are you for transferring your subscription to a one-time transaction for a physical good that you can use whenever you want?

If you have a subscription, you can download the videos. Voilà, Cherished videos saved and available whenever you want them.

For me physical versus digital (on games) is simple, what is the cheapest earlier?

My budgeting, I give myself one full price game a year on release.

The rest of the time I wait. Many times I can get physical copies of games that came out 3-4 months ago for 30 bucks. If I wait for the inevitable holiday sales, cheaper still. The digital versions can take two years or more to hit that price (talking console stores, I don't PC game or use Steam).

Edited by tourgen
@chumley_marchbanks said:

I don't own many video games anymore, but that depends on our definition of ownership. Even though I've purchased numerous games on Steam, Xbox Live, and PSN, I don't own them. I've purchased a license to play them, a license that won't necessarily last forever, and nothing guarantees my previous purchases will work when the next wave of hardware arrives. That's been more and more true as hardware's grown more complex.

@patrickklepek I'd like to point out that by buying a physical copy of a game you are still only licensing the software, as stated by Sony's software license agreement for example. Although it doesn't affect what you said, I think in these circumstances it's important to recognise the fact.

Shrink-wrapped EULAs are on very shaky legal ground and have been in at least one case deemed invalid. Generally in most places around the world you cannot change the terms of sale after the fact, which is what a shrink-wrapped EULA attempts to do. To be enforceable you would have to read and sign it at the point of sale.

Check out the Autodesk EBay re-sale kerfuffle for another interesting EULA case.

Posted by heatDrive88

@video_game_king: Because they still make record players?

But no, physical media isn't dying. Will it fall to the wayside? Probably. Die? No. Books aren't dead and they've been threatened for much longer.

Books aren't the greatest comparison because they are a much more abstracted kind of medium. E-books certainly have gained a lot of ground, but let's not forget that books have been around for a very long time, especially when compared to the much shorter duration physical copies of video games have been.

It's also important to remember just how many more people are into "reading books" or "watching movies and TV", compared to the comparatively small niche of "playing video games". The economics of it is very much different.

Edited by shozo

Consumption is more valuable than ownership.

Posted by Zerothe

If it's a really good game I would rather have a physical copy. The Last of Us as an example. I thought about it at midnight but no to good of a game. Also the harddrive space. I am having to delete games all of the time on all systems to make room for others. Still have my Baldur's Gate and Dark Age of Camelot big gigantic computer boxes, and others but those I always have out.

Posted by nickhead

I'm one of those people that buy vinyl. I also have a ton of CD's. I love music and have never really been concerned with how it moved to mostly digital over the years. Especially now more than ever, bands that still release physical copies (trust me there is a ton!) take care of their fans by making the physical product good quality.

I also collected games over the years, but more and more games these days just aren't anywhere near as important or making as much of an impact on me. So as far as games, I'm more comfortable with buying digital.

Thanks for the article Patrick!

Posted by Hef

Being primarily a PC gamer the only reason I go out to buy a game is because it's a console exclusive and it's a 50gb download.

If I had an unlimited bandwidth cap, I'd never buy a physical copy of a game again.

Edited by Hunter5024

Maybe I would feel the same way if I had a small apartment and a big enough income to buy every game I want to play. Personally I'm kinda bummed I bought Wolfenstein in the Steam sale because my friends want to borrow it and I can't loan it to them. And it turns out physical copies are going for the same amount on amazon as they were during the sale (whereas Steam is currently selling it for 60 dollars). It's not that Wolfenstein is super special to me (although it is rad), it's that it makes more practical sense for me to own the physical version. I'm under the impression that people like me aren't so uncommon, particularly when you get further away from enthusiasts like us.

Posted by Mr_Creeper

Vinyl is just a niche market, for were all super cool DJ's playing friends weddings, and people born after the creation of the Walkman trying to be hipster-nostalgic about the past. If you probably correlate the growth rate of new subscribes for music subscription services, that would eclipse any numbers for vinyl.

This.

Posted by c_rakestraw

I wouldn't really mind the loss of physical media too much. It is really nice to have all my games loaded on a hard drive to launch instantly, not to mention the space it saves. I've already accepted it with most media, anyway, so I don't see how games would be anything different.

But at the same time, it is pretty nice to own a physical disc when you're paying $60 or more for a brand new game. Having something tangible is comforting when you're spending that much money on something. Makes it feel like a more meaningful purchase.

Posted by HS_Alpha_Wolf

@patrickklepek Are you a mind reader? This article (and a great one at that) hits as I just finished explaining to my father, who is here on vacation, that the majority of my games are digital these days. I picked up The Last of Us Remastered earlier while we were out, and this is one title I wanted to have the box and everything for. The only other reason I buy physical games if it's something I want to play, but don't care enough to have a digital copy and will probably trade it in at some point. The last physical game I purchased was Killzone: It's Not All Brown or whatever it was for the PS4 for this secondary reason. TLoUR is something I am willing to have out in physical form repping my tastes.

Posted by ninjalegend

"Or maybe not. Maybe we'll give up control, games will be ruined, and we're all screwed. I'm an optimist!"

Never give up control as a consumer. One of your rights as a consumer is choice. That's why our government breaks up monopolies. Make reasonable demands and vote with your dollars. I see this as the best and safest route into our digital future. When I buy a game (or license to a game) I expect this to fulfill certain requirements. I want to be able to play it whenever I want without any barriers. They pulled Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3 off PSN last year. If I want to play it single player or local multiplayer with a friend I can. It is still installed on my hard drive. The DRM for this is invisible and unintrusive.

I find the willingness of consumers to just lay back and take it kind of sickening. You should have demands when spending your hard earned money. If you can't play your games whenever you want you are not buying them, but more akin to renting them. They have red box for that and you will not have to pay $60. Assassins Creed 2 put some crazy always online DRM on top of the less intrusive steam DRM. This is just adding unneeded roadblocks showing they don't respect you as a consumer.

It really blows my mind that the same people willing to lay down and let these companies do what they want with DRM are very vocal about the way gross free to play models take advantage of consumers. The really gross free to play models can only take advantage of the stupid and uninformed. We only criticize this because we are afraid this will leak into our beloved hardcore games. The hundreds or thousands of dollars we spend on games could vanish in an instant if we don't stand up for our digital consumer rights. Thank you and good night.

Posted by RyenDeckard

Patrick, this is a great read and you've pointed out exactly what is happening, physical media is becoming less commonplace but more special to the people purchasing them. All of the DVD's I own are of movies that are very special to me in one way or another, and I just purchased the collectors edition of dark souls 2 but downloaded infamous second son.

It's easier to just download something, but my favorite things I own physical copies of.

Posted by ArchTeckGuru8

The hell is Evil Bong?

Posted by ArchTeckGuru8

I used to be this way with books around the time of the first two kindles. But I found myself more in the way of consuming books, not reading them. It got to the point where i was buying stuff i didnt even want to read just so that I would read it. I gave that up, started going back to the local (new) library, and got physical books, then books on cd for free. I find now that I read less than i did when i first owned the kindle, but I seem to enjoy myself more, even if i do not own that content.

I still dont really feel comfortable with or even agree with the whole concept of "you dont own this game that you paid for."

Posted by gregoryc

Seeing that copy of Watchmen on Bluray above Patrick's tv... it's funny that single item sticks out. I do really loathe that film. BTW, interesting read Patrick. I lag behind going all digital. I really want to, but physical copies of console games go cheap faster than the digital versions. So I wait for a sale and pick up a copy of <insert random title> once it goes on sale somewhere (usually amazon).

Edited by bybeach

I used to have vinyl disk music when I was young. I miss it, there is something about the sound, though it can be roughly matched if you are not into compression. Lately I have bought some digital downloaded (non-compressed) albums' by Bevis Frond, and it and they sound very good. Also the album covers plus inner liner pictures and art are included. I will expand the practice via Band camp, I need to instruct myself and get it going to check the catalogue.

But done as well as Steam does, digital for games is just a no-brainer for me. I do not care about Steam as DRM, it's when it is combined with Microsoft live or whatever Max Payne used that pisses me off. What a f**king hassle! Microsoft literally barred me from playing an already purchased Dark Souls for months because I made the wrong decision on how to rectify a situation that was absolutely not my fault. Sucked. The lesson is that one digital master is enough, and that is how it should be presented to the end-user. Don't muddy the waters.

And as time goes, it's just no problem to me to go digital, except for the collector angle. I installed shelving behind the sofa in the wall, and it is full. Got some good box art though, keep not throwing it away....

Posted by Sinusoidal

I dunno. With the first few blockbuster games of this generation of consoles being 50+ gig installs, I can't see physical media quite going the way of the dodo just yet. i live in the most connected country in the world (South Korea) and I still shudder at the thought of downloading 50 gigs of something. I can't imagine trying to download 50 gigs in the podunk Canadian town I'm from. Also, memory is pretty much constantly getting cheaper. We might see a resurgence in cartridges soon enough. Which would be totally fucking awesome!

Posted by afrofools

I only buy digital. I used to import from Hong Kong to get around the high prices, but now I just wait till there are discounts (or till a review makes me happy I waited).

Posted by drockus

The death of physical media is not imminent. I'd put money on it. I have a hard time believing that many of us who grew up around the NES era will ever get over the cart fetish (now the disc fetish). Most importantly, when I buy a game, I want it to be mine, to play or to sell as I see fit. It's easy for someone like Patrick, who I am sure now earns a nice paycheck, to forget about this key aspect. I often spend only $10-$15 on games I only play for a short duration, as I am able to turn around and sell it on Amazon when I am done. If I had to pay $60 for a game I could finish in 8-10 hours, I would avoid the game entirely. There will always be a market for physical media, and I think we'll find, as in the past, that there will be a big backlash toward companies that try to altogether abandon the medium. Unfortunately though, the era of real instruction manuals appears to be gone, which is too bad.

Posted by Belegorm

I work at a used bookstore, and I've personally sold tons of records and CD's over the past month alone. While there is still a market for used media, it will continue to be consumed by people who are looking for a good deal, or collectors. I wouldn't even call most of the people buying records collectors, per se. For many of them, they've had a number of records already and a turn table, so buying another good album for $5 is a decent choice, even without considering how "rare" it is.

For many people, myself included, driving older cars, buying cheap CD's is the cheapest and easiest way to listen to good music on the way to work.

DVD's as a physical form I think are going out faster than CD's though, and way faster than vinyl, as people tend to want HD these days, whether streamed, or for the often surprisingly cheap blu-rays. We're currently having a problem selling a lot of DVD's; people who buy them just want to pay a few dollars for a movie and that's it. Anyone who is willing to pay more than like $5 for a physical copy tends to start looking into blu-rays.

I think games on disc are going out of fashion even faster than DVD's. With how fast the internet is these days, you can download a decent sized PC game and install it in less time than it would take to install a game off a CD several years ago. Most game discs tend to be useless once you use them; you install them, use the CD-key, then it doesn't matter what happens.

Considering that I trust my game collection to be safer in my steam catalogue than in a bunch of boxes in the garage, for me buying games in discs doesn't make much sense anymore.

Edited by Tru3_Blu3

Sorry if I sound like I'm not taking this seriously, but the title to this article sounds like something right out of an intense action flick or a trailer for one.

Edited by Giantstalker

Hear me out with this, but imagine if this article had been written by Jeff.

Not only does he routinely express hope for an all-digital future, but holy shit that man is utterly invested in the concept of physical game media when it comes to everything in his house.

Posted by InternetDetective

I'm not a fan of the all-digital future. Fuck the future.

Edited by Sammo21

BD and DVD are still superior to digital and streaming. You don't get any of the cool special features when you stream the content or buy a digital copy.

Edited by ThePantheon

I like how this article could have been written 4 years ago if Patrick was more of a PC-centric gamer.

Posted by LiquidPrince

I will always hate the idea of a digital only age. I have no issue with digital always coexisting with physical, but as a replacement, it sucks.

Edited by Bollard

@edsone said:

@chumley_marchbanks said:

I don't own many video games anymore, but that depends on our definition of ownership. Even though I've purchased numerous games on Steam, Xbox Live, and PSN, I don't own them. I've purchased a license to play them, a license that won't necessarily last forever, and nothing guarantees my previous purchases will work when the next wave of hardware arrives. That's been more and more true as hardware's grown more complex.

@patrickklepek I'd like to point out that by buying a physical copy of a game you are still only licensing the software, as stated by Sony's software license agreement for example. Although it doesn't affect what you said, I think in these circumstances it's important to recognise the fact.

This.

I copy and pasted that exact paragraph to post the same thing. You don't own any games, Klepek!

Edited by Jakoozie

I have used the same philosophy with TV shows and movies. I used to buy the ones I really liked on bluray/DVD. But you know what? When I want to watch them again (which happens), I can't be bothered with actually using the discs I own. I watch it digitally.

So for me, actually owning the discs is useless. I'm basically buying covers to support the creators.

Maybe the new thing for games will be digital standard releases, but physical will be more expensive collector's editions. In these you might just get the code for the game, a book and a statue or something.

The actual disc is worthless to me in most cases (in fact, I haven't even bothered hooking up my computer's DVD drive to a SATA connection).

Posted by Dussck

I won't buy much digital games on PSN as long as their price is even higher (!) then a physical copy of the game.
It's also convenient for me to have my games physical as downloading a game again will still take much longer then installing.
Another plus: I can lend the game to a friend or sell it when I'm bored of it.

So, still too many plusses on physical copies against digital.

Posted by nicolenomicon

It's very interesting reading about this stuff from the perspective of someone who lives in the US. You talk about streaming TV, music, or movies as if that ain't no thing, but I think you'd find reasonably large populations of other countries, (for example Australia, where I am) where that is simply not the norm, far from it in fact.

I dream of something other than a crappy ADSL2+ connection which barely even qualifies having a "2" or a "+", but there isn't anybody who can provide it too me, there simply aren't any providers in my area (I suspect that this would also apply to many Americans living in more remote parts of the US).

I'm not streaming movies from any service, I'm buying a couple of DVDs or Blurays once every few months. I'm certainly not buying CDs, I'll give you that, but I am purchasing almost all of my music in the form of single download DRM-free type packages from places like Bandcamp. I'm still definitely buying books, though. I read a monitor or screen in a completely different way to how I read physical pages.

And while I mostly purchase games digitally (I'm a PC gamer in Australia, so even with Steam's regional markups, it's usually still cheaper than retail, especially when factoring in transport costs of getting to a store), other forms of media are mostly not an option, either because of technical constraints, or purely economical ones.

I'm not really sure what point I'm making, if any, but I hope this is interesting at least?

Edited by kerse

I still prefer buying most games on disc. I can't stand reading books on something like a kindle and a computer screen is probably the worst place to try and read something for me. I'll gladly keep all of my music digital only though. Am I weird?

Posted by GunsAreDrawn

Mate it isn't going to change as soon as you think. A lot of places still don't have the internet speeds capable of handling this type of media, I even live in 5 year old housing estate and I can't even get a better speed than 2mb because there is no fibre optic cable running through the area. Most of Scotland has been in the process of switching to fibre optic for years now but the dates of when it will happen keeps getting pushed back further and further. I remember in 2007 the newspaper had an article which stated that I should be able to have access to it in 2010, but I don't see it happening for atleast 3 more years at this point.

Posted by ninnanuam

There are so many reasons not to give up on physical media that I find the whole " get in line" inevitability of the whole thing disturbing. It cant happen unless consumers support it and we showed MS that when they announced the XBone and then triple backflipped.

The reasons digital games still suck compared to physical copies:

1, Price: digital versions of books, music and TV undercut physical prices by an order of magnitude to get their foothold, comparable digital games are like 10% cheaper tops and until they are in some subscription service for nothing they never go down in price. A month after a game comes out at retail the game has usually dropped by at least 10 bucks and usually more. Steam sales may be good but they aren't actually all that amazing. The last one kinda sucked and the sales prices for old games were still comparable to my local game store blow outs.

2, Fear of games becoming unplayable: servers get taken down all the time and some games are just plain unplayable due to this. But I can still boot up my SNES and play legend of Zelda or SF2. There is a feeling that these companies will shut off games we love in the not to distant future and we will be left with no collection at all.

3, Technological limitation: Most of the world still has shit internet, games are now fucking huge and streaming sucks ass...oh and some places (read a lot of places) have bandwidth caps.

Downloading a modern AAA game with ADSL or even ADSL 2 takes forever and can be a sizable investment of a person's monthly DL limit. when I buy a game from steam it doesn't just cost me the 15 bucks I paid for it also costs me my bandwidth and monthly DL amount, I only get 100 gigs a month for 60 bucks, most bigish games seem to come in at around 15-30 gigs so that 15 dollar game actually costs me more like $25 in real terms.

Again until these issues are sorted there is no reason to buy into this all digital future. Vote with you wallet and voice your opinion. We check MS last year and we can do it the next time asshole corporation tries this shit.

Posted by NeoZeon

How do you explain the rising sales of vinyl music?

Hell if I know. I still don't know how people even play the music they buy on vinyl. And I know somebody who owns a vinyl record.

Wait a second, what's Valkyria Chronicles doing at the butt end of that shelf? Are you just throwing DVDs and what have you all helter-skelter across your shelf? Show some pride. Alphabetize, son!

Actually just picked up an Ion USB turntable so my mother could get all of her "classic albums" from her youth onto a hard drive before the vinyls crap out. I don't have much love for the format, but the technology to move it from one generation of media to another is oddly interesting. She plays it through the computer speakers by the way, another odd blending of tech I never expected to see.

Oh and I'm with you on getting all the shelf order done by letter. Makes it easier to find stuff, at least for me. I thought everyone did it that way

Posted by fetchfox

I pretty much have the exact same relationship with physical media. Most of my collection now consists only of special boxsets and movies/tv-shows that are dear to me.

Edited by robin_smith
Edited by Sweep

I'd happily pay a decent monthly subscription if it opened up the entire steam catalogue. I spend a stupid amount on games in steam sales and I never play them anyway. Everything is heading towards micro transactions already, so fuck it.

Moderator
Posted by Hurricrane

Hey congrats, Patrick. You've written yet another article that says nothing new about an argument that people have been having for years, and still manage that pretentious tone.

Posted by Nedrika

I buy all my books, because I like reading from a book over a screen, but I tend to donate those that don't make a great impression. Music I buy online and then potentially buy the same again physically if I really treasure them, as online buys have messed me up too many times.

Games, only franchises I am very involved in get physically bought, like the Freespace boxset to replace a lost disc, and The Witcher 2, as RED did a great job with it and I love the stories.

Don't want to take it too far.

Edited by bigevil1987

I still like buying physical. Hard drives on game consoles fill up too quickly for me because I play a lot of games and I don't like deleting things that I've paid for, always scared I'm going to forget to re-download them. I still buy blurays all the time too. I'm weird like that.

Posted by Parsnip

PoP08 is great, good on you Patrick.

Edited by caesius6

@lylebot: As a heavy Premiere and AE user, I agree, it's really disheartening that they did that. Knowing that I can stick with CS6 is of little benefit as I know I won't be able to receive future updates without paying them per month. It's actually really shitty. Maybe if the prices were lower? But even then... I'm assuming piracy of the Master Collection has led them to this point - among many other things.

I don't believe we'll ever need a sub to play a game - that feels like they'll be shutting out an entire subset of people to their games. The way it is now is that you pay to play vault games, which is an expanding catalogue (and is pretty awesome), and you get a discount on new DLC and games, as well as trials with transferable progress. $5 for a 30 day rental on 4 (or more, in the future) games is not a bad deal by any means. Maybe competition will drive these prices down even further, who knows. My point is that they wouldn't end up putting new games on a service like this and charging the same price, as it's a shot in the foot. If Madden was given to users who subscribe at a $40/yr service (theoretical price) rather than $60/game transaction, they'd be losing money. Even more so when you factor in that there are other games coming out that would need to be included in that subscription that they'll still only be making money once, not twice, or three or four times.

I can't see it going in the direction of a cheap yearly sub, just to have the permission to buy a game - judging by the way the market has been lately, there would be an enormous consumer backlash, and that will revert that business decision.

Edited by SpudTheBlackLab

I got rid of my giant pile of game boxes from the N64 on up that I'd been hanging onto for....some reason....probably a decade ago. Between Steam, PSN and XBL, the only physical media I ever buy anymore are the console exclusives that I can't download. I'm fortunate enough to be able to play pretty much every game that interests me and I don't miss the boxes.

Posted by superdomino

A possible solution to this is VR. As a former physical media collector, I actually started letting go of my need for physical DVDs when I got Delicious Library. Seeing a shelf made me ok with just ripping all my movies and storing them on DVDs. SO if someone could make a rad VR program (if one doesnt already exist) you could have infinite virtual shelf space for your digital content.

Posted by ObiKwiet
@hailinel said:

@obikwiet: The realities of internet speeds and data caps, the way games can be removed from online marketplaces at the drop of a hat and never be available again, game libraries being tied to accounts and services that won't necessarily last. Some of these same issues are analogous to physical limitations, but some that champion digital as the way of the future behave as if such risks and limitations don't exist.

Valid points. None of them really matter to me though. I have a fast internet connection and neither Steam nor Origin have given me a reason not to trust them (yet).

I understand people being apprehensive, especially if their internet sucks, or they are worried about having access to something in perpetuity. But I will take those risks in order to never have to buy a disc again.

FUCK... DISCS... FOREVER!!!

Posted by tombfyre

All digital future = horrific. That subscription service = horrific It really doesn't benefit you, it benefits the company and stock holders of companies. I have not seen an increase in quality of most games since things starting going digital. A new title on steam, is either the same price or ten dollars cheaper than its store counterpart. Dropping manuals from games, quality gone up? Nope?

Folks praise an all digital future, but I really believe they have just allowed themselves to become convinced that it is better. The game sitting on my shelf does not require

A) fast reliable connection with large bandwidth caps.
B) Large storage devices (5 years is your window for problem free HDD storage, outside this, you start to gamble)

Lets weight the costs of my shelf vs the above. Does that 10.00 difference in price on steam make up for that?

I still buy physical media for films, console games, books. PC games I gave into steam because I starting buying games that just installed steam and then installed themselves into steam. Pretty clever ploy that.

Edited by EXTomar

Video games are "disposable media entertainment". There is no shame or fault in someone believing that once they complete a video game they get rid of it where having a completely digital library is ideal for them because the real issue for them is managing the physical stuff. Selling things like books, movies, and game can be a PITA or not be worth it so why bother keeping around what they consider junk?

Madden 25 is not going to be valuable in a few months. In a few years it is going to be mostly worthless. People are squeamish about digital things and claim there is inherent value in disks but I wonder what that is because the value is the data not the disk. They may like the game but that box and the plastic thing it came on is worthless.

Posted by koolaid39

Really great article @patrickklepek. For me, I will always buy physical copies of things that I truly love. While I get where people come from with wanting to have super minimalist homes/lifestyles, having rooms in my house that are totally bare and empty just don't feel like home to me. I couldn't imagine going to my Grandma's house and not having some of her ceramic figures, collector tins, books, and family pictures on shelves. It just wouldn't feel the same.

Online
Posted by agathis

I think the big question in regards to services like EA Access is whether they will own up to how little their back catalog is actually worth to us. I can already pick up physical media at Gamestop for half or less than what they're charging for the digital download on XBox Live.

And that illuminates the other issue--right now, the market prices old games. Gamestop needs to move those old games, and they price them to move. But if everything is digital, companies like EA can decide to never drop their prices on old games below a certain point, because there's no inventory. Say goodbye to bargain bins with $5 games. Instead of demand driving price, it will be EA executives. I don't relish the thought.