Buying digital is nothing new, especially to PC gamers. With sites like Steam, GOG, Desura, and Green Man Gaming offering drastically reduced prices and mind blowing bundles, it’s easy to see why buying physical copies is going the way of the buffalo.
Part of the issue is that major retailers just can’t compete with digital pricing. With PC and Mac being a haven for indie games, a lot of those titles never make it to the physical realm to begin with. The same could be said about indie games on modern consoles as well, but we’re just now starting to see Sony and Microsoft approach digital retail titles more attractively. Sony, for instance, usually offers 10% off if you pre-order, while both allow you to download your game early so it’s readily available on launch day.
Another issue is that, as technology advances and our PC becomes more beastly, some of our favorite classics no longer work. We can’t install 10 discs of Wing Commander or Indiana Jones because many of our units don’t have the proper drives, but GOG.com introduced a solution to that problem earlier today.
Although it’s a short list of games right now, GOG is allowing its customers to submit a form via their website that will, in return, provide them with a digital copy that includes “all of the bonus goodies” that come with the GOG version. All they need is your old registration key, and bam! Well, not so much “bam!”, because, as I said, the list is pretty short.
According to The Escapist, the available games are:
- Eador: Genesis
- S.T.A.L.K.E.R: Shadow of Chernobyl
- S.T.A.L.K.E.R: Call of Pripyat
- S.T.A.L.K.E.R: Clear Sky
- Mount & Blade: Warband
- Mount & Blade: With Fire & Sword
Moving along to the home console front, I see two main issues with going digital. For starters, most console gamers are used to the idea of trading in their old and unwanted games. Personally, I don’t find myself revisiting games I’ve already finished, so I typically sell them on eBay. I get a decent amount back for my investment that I can then use to buy another game, repeating the process over and over again. Buying digital doesn’t allow me to get any sort of return if I’m unhappy with the game, other than freeing up HD space upon deletion.
The other issue is that console gamers don’t have an outlet like Steam that provides a steady flow of deep discounts. Occasionally sites like Amazon or NewEgg will offer discounts on digital downloads for console titles, but Xbox Live and PSN don’t really have any competition to contend with. We consumers have to rely on Xbox Live or PSN to offer sales, and if you’ve been paying attention to our recent sales posts, they’re not all that attractive. There are thousands of sales on Steam at any given time, and that not only has a lot to do with the PC having a broader selection of games to choose from, but the fact that Steam has competition.
Then, of course, there’s the limited amount of space on the Xbox One and PS4 HD; although it seems to be an ongoing trend for even physical copies to require a 40-60gb install. With both offering the ability to upgrade to an external, this isn’t so much of a problem as it is an added expense.
I haven’t yet made the jump to an all-digital future, but I definitely enjoy having so many games at the ready on my Xbox One. Recently I found myself playing through Final Fantasy: Type-0 in between online co-op sessions of Diablo III: Reaper of Souls, and I actually found myself scoffing each time I had to swap one disc out for the other. However, jumping between the recently released Neverwinter, Child of Light, and Killer Instinct helped me appreciate the benefit of digital releases.
I suppose if a game came out that I knew I’d enjoy and had no interest in exchanging, like Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt or The Elder Scrolls Online, I’d consider buying digital. It’s the same price either way (or 10% off if you pre-order on PSN), and having it at the ready–should I decide to flip flop between games, as I often do–is becoming more appealing as time goes on.
What about you? Have you been buying games digitally over their physical counterparts? Why or why not? Let us know down in the comments!
Bradley Keene is the Executive Editor here at What’s Your Tag?, generally handling reviews, public relations, and our social media communications on Facebook and Twitter. He’s an aspiring video game journalist from Baltimore, MD with a deep seeded love of video games, pro wrestling, horror films, and cats. Get in touch with him by e-mail at the address above, or follow him on Twitter.