"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?"Patrick Klepek
I'd argue that PC games were not dying before. They have pretty much chugged away as they always have and MMOs being huge mostly all the time. The sudden surge of F2P stuff like DOTA has just increased momentum a bit. Its just that most PC games just wasnt as big sellers as console games, so many people hailed that "PC is dead" and so on. Digital games sure have helped push PC games far and wide, stuff like DOTA, Minecraft and so on.
But I'm a steam user and the death of the box is a thing that saddens me the most about games. Not just because the days or sharing and lending games are soon coming to an end but also all the hurdles and hassles that come with digital games are here to stay. Games are locked to one account. And the reason that people don't buy many boxed games anymore is just that they are a DVD case with nothing inside and the disc needs you to install steam and latch the key onto your account and then the DVD just becomes useless. That's not what I want when I buy a physical copy.
I bought a fresh copy of L4D2 from Swedens biggest games retailer and the key was in use. My brother who had also bought a copy at the same time got the same error. We both contacted Steam support and his key got reset really quickly. Even though I provided the same info (photos of the game case, CD, key, receipt) Steam support told me that I cant reset keys for used games. I was totally blown away, it was a new game, still in its wrappers and everything! I begged and pleaded and support gave way and resetted they key, but they gave me a final warning that they will never reset keys for a used game for me ever again. It's the worst support I have ever encountered and no one seemed to listen to my words or review the support ticket my brother had. This is why I buy less physical stuff. I'm afraid its just gonna tell me to install it on steam and bam, the key might be in use and then I can't play that game, ever.
A CD or downloadable installer, install wherever and how many times you want. That's a future that I'd like to see, super consumer friendly and you can lend and resell games, lock out access if you resell a digital game... But steam doesn't really offer that so I'm not on board yet. The best thing out there is GOG.com, since you get an installer and you can do whatever you want with it. Plus, no need for any background client or somesuch.
Currently, digital games offer no real advantaged over physical. Less so, even. The only advantage is that you don't need to put something into your comp to install it. Digital games are often locked to one account, require an external client, DRM and so on. With a physical copy, that isn't bound to some weird service, in theory you can lend that copy, resell it and remove the DRM (unlawfully, but easily if you wish).
Now this became quite a long comment but in short: right now digital offers very little over physical and it's mostly troublesome and a means for companies to hinder used games. Digital sales and bundles are a positive thing but often you have to install these games via a client or lock them some account.Consumers should be a bit more critical towards digital games now that every publisher is trying to seize control over what you can and cannot do in digital games. We need to be critical so we don't get bullied into a paradigm shift of anti-consumerism that we can't back out of because it has become the norm.