Thursday, February 20, 2014

Disc Vs. Download: The Inevitable Death of the Physical Game Disc

This new generation brings together all the things we wanted in a video game console.  These new systems now have large hard drives, are able to be updated via the internet and, starting with last generation, you can now download games to your console's hard drive (and start playing it before it is done downloading).  The problem for most gamers now becomes do you buy a physical copy of the game or do you just download it.  There are many pros and cons for each.  But for those who love your games lining your shelves, I am sorry to say the days of the physical disc are numbered and this console generation will see that happen.

The Pros:

- can trade in to help fund your gaming addiction
- you get to experience the midnight release and all the camaraderie that goes with that
- you can trade games with friends.

- no more wasting space on a shelf with games you don't play anymore
- no need to have to get up and swap discs to change the game
- no game disc to get scratched and no be read by the console
- games may get cheaper due to cutting out the middle man (retailer) - download games are already  $5 cheaper than physical games on Playstation Vita.

The Cons:

- they take up room in your house
- having to get up to swap the disc to change the game you are playing
- discs can get scratched and not work anymore
- have to go down to the store to purchase the game
- retailers may be out of the game you want to buy

- need a fast internet connection to get the game quickly
- at around 40GB per game, your hard drive may get full very quickly
- cannot trade games in to get money to buy more games
- cannot share games with friends (you can if you sign in as yourself on your friends system)

Regardless of what your preference is on this issue, physical media is going away.  There are a few thing that are happening that make the switch to downloading games easier.  Firstly, you can start a download on the shiny new console from anywhere in the world (as long as your console is connected to the internet and is in sleep mode).  Secondly, hard drives on consoles are getting bigger and you can swap them out with larger ones any time you want.  Lastly, you can start playing a game before it is finished being downloaded.  You can even can choose to download the either the multiplayer first or the single player first.

We all know Microsoft wants this to happen.  But don't kid yourself.  Sony also wants this to happen. They don't want to keep allowing retailers to take money from them.

I may be way off on this but here is what I see happening.  Microsoft and Sony will end the production of disc based games before the end of this generation.  They may try to test the waters by reducing the prices of download games.  Playstation Vita does this already by discounting download games by $5 over the physical copy.  My guess is we will see $50 games instead of $60 games (Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeros download game will be $10 cheaper than the physical disc).  I know that Sony and Microsoft won't do this but I think that $40 games would make gamers take the plunge and never visit the retail store again.

1 comment:

  1. Every console maker, Nintendo, Microsoft, and sony want this to happen and it will happen, hopefully sooner rather than later, IMO.