#1 Posted by notnert427 (229 posts) -

I fully appreciate the benefits of the digital age. It's incredibly convenient to not have to fumble with finding the game you want out of the stack, taking the other game out, putting it in its place, and putting the other game in. It's also great to not have to worry about scratching the CD, or going back to the old NES days, having to clean the game you want to play and just hope it still worked. These days, with my Xbox One, I can just literally tell the console what I want to play, and boom, it's there. And that's awesome in its own right.

However, there's something missing. I have fond memories of preordering that game I'd be so excited about, going to the store, picking up the physical copy of the game, ripping through all the layers of anti-theft packaging, flipping through the manual, and ultimately taking MY game out to play it. It was like being a kid on Christmas. That tangible part of the whole experience was a part of the fun.

Obviously, it remains an option, as physical copies of games are still sold, but most folks, including myself, will choose the most convenient option. As such, I lament that physical copies will likely soon be a thing of the past. For me, it doesn't matter as much as I near 30, because the time/hassle of getting an actual copy isn't really worth it, but I feel for the kids who might miss out on tearing open the present.

Clicking "buy" and watching a download bar just doesn't measure up. However, I'm part of the problem. I'll probably pick up a digital copy of Watch_Dogs this week. Still, I'd like to offer some appreciation for the kids who still go to the store, and for the parents who are willing to take them there to get them that game they want more than anything. I've got some nostalgia for that. I'll be that old guy some day in the not too distant future baffling kids by talking about how we used to have actual cartridges and CDs for games.

Digital purchases have their advantages, but I think we're losing something along the way.

#2 Edited by believer258 (11808 posts) -

For me, digital has become my primary way of playing games since I've started PC gaming but that's largely due to sales. It isn't at all convenient to have to wait for a multiple gigabyte download and to worry about running out of hard drive space. I have never run out of shelf space and see little issue with having to get up to change games, especially since I plan on sitting for at least half an hour when starting a game up.

I pre-ordered Wolfenstein The New Order on PC and that sucker was 40GB, a monster download on any reasonable connection but especially on my 3mbps down. From now on, if there is no price disparity or there just isn't a huge one, I'd rather go buy it so I can have access to it at anytime barring install times.

And yes, there is something to be said for the little bit of joy that comes from unwrapping a tangential product, opening it up, and putting it in for the first time. That's one of the things I missed most when I made the leap from consoles to PC.

#3 Posted by Demoskinos (14776 posts) -

@notnert427: Well you have some points but also you can't miss what you've never had right?

#4 Edited by Fredchuckdave (5353 posts) -

I like physical copies, just only if I really like the game; doesn't really matter to me if the game is free via PS+ or it's something extremely cheap.

#5 Posted by ZolRoyce (672 posts) -

@notnert427: I get what you're saying, I also really miss manuals I live an hour away from any major city and so when I got to go to the city and buy a game and open it, I got an hour to paw through the manual and I loved it, it built up the anticipation so good. But I have to take physical copies and manuals as pure nostalgia as digital envelopes it.
I don't really see it as a loss though, I mean what are we losing? Touching a disc? Okay... is that it? Is it even that big of a deal, nostalgia is a hell of a thing and I think we just have to deal with the changing times and realize when something isn't that bad of a thing.

#6 Posted by Lydian_Sel (2484 posts) -

I think a decline in physical copies would put more emphasis on the appreciation of limited and collector's editions. After all, those are the retail copies that would actually be the most interesting to open since they're typically loaded with all sorts of chintzy game related fodder. Even as a kid I wasn't super sentimental about game packaging mostly because it was cumbersome and odd and took up valuable shelf space. While PS2 games were mostly fine, PC games came in ridiculously giant boxes that were 90% nothing, and in the case of Nintendo games the boxes were so flimsy and poor that they were often askew or squished around the edges by the time you bought them.

Maybe it's because I bought a lot of used-games as a kid which weren't anything pretty to display, most of which came in tattered cases with the booklets and other goodies long since shucked. Used games were cheap, accessible, and filled me with an obligation to pass them on after I had played them as if part of some greater trading circle. Now as an adult I feel like physical copies facilitate my need to pay homage to games I really love and respect, if I own a physical copy of a game it's because that game has made a significant impression on me.

I'm more than happy for digital downloads to become the norm because our most adopted physical format, the CD/DVD, is finicky and delicate. It's not like the old days where everything came on a big clunky cartridge that had artwork on it, that you could drop on the floor endlessly, and get your grubby fingers all over. DVDs just aren't fun like that.

#7 Posted by RVonE (4634 posts) -

@notnert427: I don't know, man. I have stacks and stacks of old games going all the way back to C64 (my first system) but that stuff is just gathering dust and taking up space. I wish I could just download all that stuff through Steam and dump all that shit in a landfill.

#8 Edited by billymagnum (801 posts) -

ill tell you what im not losing, extra space in my house, oh and my money. im full on digital but i know what you are trying to say. but the simple fact of the matter is physical stuff just has no damn value to me anymore. i got really tired of paying a minimum of $60 for games and getting worthless junk with it that just sits in boxes all over your house. 48 page art books...whoopie....steel cases...yeehaw....special editions cost too damn much for what they are, and prices fall so fast these days, it makes preording rather pointless unless you just cannot be without some bs preorder exclusive bs. the fact that you stand to save so much money by downloading games (on pc anyways) would make mean feel completely stupid to ignore. heck i felt dumb enough that i had been missing out when i made the switch over to pc two years ago.

yeah its different but i think there will always be an option for good old physical crap. come to think of it, check out The Indie Box. they have an interesting idea related to keeping that stuff alive.

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#9 Posted by T_wester (153 posts) -

Having moved 3 times the last 5 years i have discarded most of my physical consoles and copies. I haven't look back. Even before i bought digitally, would i make iso images of my games, download no-cd patches and store them on a portable harddisk. The games were just sitting their plastic embrace only used once.

#10 Posted by RonGalaxy (3127 posts) -

Vinyl still exists, and is actually becoming more popular. Don't worry about physical media going away.

#11 Posted by conmulligan (443 posts) -

This is part of the reason I was bummed when Microsoft razed its digital-only strategy. I kind of like having boxes on shelves, but am 100% done with discs.

#12 Edited by Corvak (1009 posts) -

I still go physical for everything when at all possible, with the major exception of Steam games.

The big change in the last few years, is that the person giving me my stuff is the UPS guy instead of some retailer hawking gameplay guarantees.

#13 Posted by peritus (993 posts) -

I like the owning a game part, wich you dont get in the same way with digital. If Xbox Live or PSN ever goes down i wont have acces to any of "my" games. That part is a bummer. If that gets a good solution then i might be willing to go full digital.

#14 Posted by Gruebacca (512 posts) -

If only there was a way to grab the digital copy with your fingers and put it in another device. Like, pinch the screen near the digital game and drag it to a flash drive, and when you open your fingers the game cut-and-pastes itself to the flash drive. It was a dream I had a while ago that sounded like magic.

Idk. There's probably a psychological component to arousal from touching stuff that explains this dilemma.

#15 Posted by Chop (1996 posts) -

I straight up won't buy physical media anymore. As someone who moves about two or three times a year, I just can't deal with physical games.

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#16 Posted by Marcsman (3180 posts) -

I'm down with the discness.

#17 Posted by Levius (1112 posts) -

I have boxes of game cases everywhere. I am done with cases purely on the space they take up.

#18 Edited by CorruptedEvil (2685 posts) -

My family still buys me physical games for Christmas/Birthday (5 days away so one gift for both), but when I purchase a game for myself it's always digital because I know it won't just up and break on me, and even if there's a house fire or something if I get a new console I can still play all my games. 3DS especially where I've already lost 2 game carts (Pokemon Y and FE:A), those things are way too small.

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#19 Edited by CornBREDX (5122 posts) -

I only want physical copies of games that I feel I want to have in my personal collection. Being able to redeem so many games on steam these days it just makes things even better.

The problem I have is there is still a large amount of older games you still cant find digitally. It's more annoying than anything I guess. Why isn't SH 2, 3, or 4 on any digital distribution platforms on PC? Just sayin, and that's only one example.

#20 Edited by AMyggen (2873 posts) -

I personally got over buying CDs pretty fast, and I'm already on my way to embracing the digital future. But then again I've never been a collector of anything.

#21 Edited by hermes (1415 posts) -

Those are things I miss about physical games.

Things I don't miss include:

  • Filling up a lot of space for games I can't play anymore, with boxes of systems I no longer have.
  • Having to deal with customs and, sometimes, paying more than what I paid for the game itself in taxes.
  • Ordering a game and not being able to play it for several weeks.
  • Having to, actively, avoid certain sites on the Internet to prevent me from getting spoiled during those weeks.
  • Having to worry about humidity and other factors that make my discs unplayable.
  • Having to play around with manuals to get serial keys, installation passwords or similar.
#22 Posted by Oldirtybearon (4720 posts) -

There will always be a market for physical media (god I hate that term). Always. Vinyl never went away. Hell, it's been steadily growing in both appreciation and value for the last ten years. Audiophiles would never abandon it.

The thing about physical media (ugh) is that it's tactile. You can touch it. It does a lot to help your perception of the piece. You own this. You bought this. It's not consummable trash because it takes up space in your life. Digital will never get that kind of appreciation. Ever. As much as I love Telltale's The Walking Dead and The Wolf Among Us, I feel a pang every time I realize that I don't own boxes for those games. No discs, nothing physical that reminds me both of the game I own, and the pleasure I've had in playing it.

It's not nostalgia, not really, but it is something similar. It's like reading for me. I can't do Ereaders. I just can't. I need to have a book in my hands. I need the weight of a good hard cover. I need to feel the paper between my fingers as I turn the page. If it's not in a book, if it's just words on a screen, I just don't take it seriously. I will readily recognize that that is probably just a weird quirk of mine, however, but it's the same regardless. If it's physical, I can appreciate it. I know it's real. If it's digital, it's just another distraction on the wacky, wild Internet.

#23 Posted by ajamafalous (11963 posts) -

I've been done with discs since about 2007.

#24 Edited by TheManWithNoPlan (5436 posts) -

Basically, I only buy physical copies for games I hold in high regard (i.e. My favorite games). I mean, I don't really need a copy of persona 3 for the Ps2, given I own it digitally on my Ps3, but having it sit in my (physical) collection just gives me something a digital collection leaves to be desired.

So, there is something special about having a collection of cool shit on shelf to stare at, but when that eventually takes up too much room, that stare turns into a double edged sword real quick. Digital media will always provide an option physical media never can. (Space)

#25 Posted by Hone_McBone (137 posts) -

@notnert427: I remember opening the boxes & going over & over the manuals for Starcontrol 2 and Dune 2 as a kid, but as I got older I cared less about the packaging, maybe unfolded the maps once for GTA San Andreas. The last game related purchases from an actual physical store were a cable for Rocksmith and a windows 360 controller, I think the packages lasted about 30 seconds before they got thrown out (not the same as a game packaging obviously but the last physical purchases in a long time).

Before travelling and living in a few different countries I'd gotten rid of all the older games I had & I can't see myself ever getting anything that isn't digital.

#26 Posted by nasp (263 posts) -

i always have bought physical discs for any game i buy if its available.i like the fact that i know i can play a game 20 years later.if things go all digital then that wont be much of a possibility,because the servers will eventually go away and you wont be able to download them again.if things go all digital i will more than likely stop buying consoles and stick with the consoles i already have.

#28 Posted by Zevvion (1862 posts) -

Physical whenever I can for me. Too many drawbacks to digital games. Can't share them, can't get them early, can't take them back (unless Origin, hat off to 'em), dependant on internet speed if you uninstalled and want to play it again and so on and so on.

Basically, the only pro's for digital are: 'don't have to leave the house' and 'don't have to swap a disc'. Both issues that I couldn't care less about. There is no reason to go digital in my case.

#29 Posted by AlexW00d (6238 posts) -

I have about 700 digital games, if I had room for 700 physical game boxes I wouldn't want to be putting 700 physical game boxes there anyway. I have about 200 physical games lay about and even that is way too many.

#30 Posted by ripelivejam (3816 posts) -

it's kinda weird to assume steam will be around for another decade or two at least. guess nothing lasts forever, though.

#31 Edited by JJWeatherman (14558 posts) -

Digital game distributers should all take a page out of Hearthstone's or Dota's book. Make the digital event as fun, or nearly as fun, as the physical event. Openening digital cards in Hearthstone isn't quite as good as the real thing, but it's close. Imagine something like that when you buy Xbox or PlayStation games. I'd be into it.

#32 Posted by HerbieBug (4212 posts) -

Dealing with brick and mortars before Canada finally started having games available on release day (rather than two or three days after) was a fucking nightmare. Even after that, driving out to a store not knowing if they would be sold out of copies by the time you arrived. All of that sucked. Down with brick and mortar.

#33 Edited by TheHT (11155 posts) -

Fond memories of an older time. Nothin wrong with that.

I'll only get a physical copy if it's a special edition I want or I'm buying something in a store on a lark. Or if it's a console game. I kinda don't quite trust the consoles with the digital games I purchased being easily available to download years down the line.

It does kinda bum me that if I ever wanted to bust out and play Dragon's Dogma 20 years from now I might have to redownload it. But by then I'm sure that'd take a half-second, or there'll just be a new DD game, or it'll just have come to Steam, or we'll all be the living dead. Hard to say.

#34 Posted by Slag (4261 posts) -

Nah ultimately I think it's better.

Better for the environment, lower cost distribution, less clutter in the house,removes scarcity for the consumer and opens the market to more developers due to dramatically easing of access and distribution.

I do miss the tangible excitement of holding a new game, reading that manual, finding a copy of a game I thought might be sold out and that plasticy new game smell.

The big question mark is how the whole ownership thing will work out. As long as consumer rights are respected the upsides of digital far outweigh the downsides.

#35 Posted by Lost_Remnant (109 posts) -

I'm still not heavy into PC gaming and do most of my gaming on consoles so I still buy physical. It also doesn't help that my internet provider where I live is really inconsistent. I either get lighting fast download speeds or it's really damn slow. I don't live in a rural area either, Cox Communications in Oklahoma is just sort of a crap-shoot on quality. So with that in mind, the digital future will not have its hooks into me for the foreseeable future. I'm also not that pumped about the future of downloading games that are 40 gigs and beyond with the way my internet experience typically goes. For now owning physical copies of games does not bother me and prefer it, I will grant you that space becomes an issue as I acquire more and more games.

#36 Posted by Clubbins (11 posts) -

I do enjoy hot downloads, but you can kind of game-ify buying physical media. I've picked up quite a few games off Amazon on disk that were MUCH cheaper than PSN, and even just last week picked up Battlefield 4 PC for about half off the digital price. Silly part is my gaming pc doesn't have a disc drive of any sort, so will end up downloading the full thing off Origin anyway.

#37 Posted by fisk0 (4036 posts) -

I still buy physical games pretty often, even though the vast majority of my library is digital. I'm not generally into collector's editions, but when games include soundtrack CD's or really good cover art, it's hard to resist going physical unless digital is a lot cheaper (which it usually isn't in Sweden, since Steam goes for those ridiculous $1=1€ prices, often making games tens of dollars more expensive on Steam than in retail stores).

#38 Edited by Marokai (2903 posts) -

I buy physical copies of things more often than not, because I value the longevity and sense of ownership of my purchases. I buy the occasional digital game when they're available in crazy sales, but I do so purely because those purchases are often at such disposable prices.

I have a lot of games; it doesn't crowd me out of a room. It's not inconvenient for me to take five seconds to put discs in, or to go 20 minutes in any direction to find numerous places that sell video games when I desire one. There is flexibility and ownership in those purchases, and with all of those games I've bought I'm not dependent on the functionality of external services to legally maintain the usability and the legacy of those games.

What works for some people does not work well for all people, and many people just simply value different things. Most people probably don't care if they can play the copy of Watch Dogs or Wolfenstein they purchased today, several, or hell, even just one year from now. But it does matter a lot to me. I own a lot of games from previous generations, and all the Ps2 games I have sitting in a box, or resting on a shelf, are mine forever. Emulatable and maintainable forever, only a few steps away, requiring no internet connection or extra purchases, and no flip of a switch in some server room somewhere can take them from me. For my needs and wants, that is true value and convenience.

It has little to do with nostalgia. They are functionally very different things. It's okay to like physical copies more for actual reasons.

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#39 Edited by Generic_username (601 posts) -

If I really love a game, I'll get a physical copy so that I can have something to proudly gather dust on a shelf.

#40 Posted by Hamst3r (4481 posts) -

I hold none of the sentimentality that you have towards physical media. Physical media is the worst.

#41 Posted by SuperKcross (89 posts) -

I don't really miss the physical copies but rather the manuals that used to come with them. As a kid who grew up playing mostly flight sims, getting a nice spiral bound manual in Jane's F-15 or Falcon 3 was amazing. The Mechwarrior 2 manual holds a special place in my heart. Back then, the first thing I would do was read the manual on the car ride back home. Nowadays publishers just don't publish manuals anymore or simply release it in a pdf and that really takes away the enjoyment of owning the physical copy.

#42 Posted by Benmo316 (445 posts) -

Some of my favorite moments in gaming (aside from playing the actual games) have been waiting in line for a couple hours for midnight to strike on a new game. One moment that will stay with me forever is waiting with some friends for Halo 3 at GameStop. There was a line of a couple hundred people outside of the store, some crowded around some TVs playing Halo 2 that they hooked up through their vehicles, most just chatting amongst ourselves. Then, without any warning, the sprinkler system kicks in and 75% of the people are standing in awe and get soaked. And to make things better two guys dropped their brand new iPhones just before the sprinklers kicked in and they got extra pissed. Today, I can't even imagine what would be considered an epic pre-order or game buying experience from the couch. But the convenience of digital media now-a-days is amazing, and as I creep towards being 30 and am getting rid of a lot of physical media, I love the digital age.