It is becoming the more common method of distribution and publication: digital. People seem to be clamoring at the idea of moving towards complete digital sales of games, thus cutting out the middle man of local stores and physical purchases. It appears that gamers these days are all about going completely digital. And why not? You can save shelf space by not having disks and cases laying around, a game released at midnight starts downloading at midnight, saving the few minutes of running to the store, and, well, that’s about it.
There is a major debate going about the gaming-sphere now, with the majority gradually leaning towards a complete digital future of game purchasing. It is not uncommon to read a comment post or listen to a critic talk about the beautiful dream future of next generation consoles without disk drives at all. But, in all honesty, what is the benefit to ditching the physical side of gaming for complete digital purchases and what are some of the downsides?
THE EASE OF ALL DIGITAL
The added feature of digital distribution has opened the gates for smaller and independent studios to get their game out there. And more games on the market is always a good thing. That is when digital distribution is taken in the context of a feature and not as the main method. But aside from this, what is the real gain? As stated above, there are a couple of benefits to game publishing going all digital. Most notably, saving space and time.
In an all digital purchase there is no box taking up shelf space and no disk or cartridge you have to worry about. Let’s cut to the basics, gamers have a tendency to be collectors of other sorts and thus need space for other things. This also just alleviates the general clutter that comes along with just more stuff. So, if we can move to an all digital future, less muddle we all have to worry about.
Following the manor of digital downloads, gamers also save a little bit of time in their purchasing. Rather than having to run to the store, hope that they have the game in stock, take it home, install it, and finally get to play you can drop the first three listed steps. When going all digital, you know that the game is available and can download it directly from the comfort of your own home. Everyone’s time is precious, so luckily you can save a little here. For those who live in areas where there are not game stores around, this helps them immensely as far as getting a hold of a game. More players installing helps support the industry even further.
THE DOWNSIDE OF ALL DIGITAL
There are a couple of main problems that coming along with these upsides. As far as getting rid of the physical copies of games, some people prefer to have the boxes and disks. Pushing for an all digital future pushes this segment of the gaming population out and takes away an aspect that they enjoy. As for saving the time, there are still those who prefer to go to the store, talking to people, browse the shelves, and even hit up a midnight release of a game. There is an environment and atmosphere that comes from heading to the store that cannot be created by a digital release of a console yet. However, never rule out just how invasive to everyday life VR may become.
The two central pros to going all digital work on an individual basis, but as for implementing it on a complete and full scale only succeeds in taking away from a portion of the gaming population. There is nothing stopping people from going all digital on their own without indirectly taking away from others. Not to mention, a person to person about gaming habits and preferences can throw out some suggestions that even the most precisely curated program cannot make.
Furthermore, there is the imminent risk of leaving all of your games spiraling in the digital zone: technical errors. How many times have we seen trending conversations about games becoming unavailable, servers going down, limited or restricted access, etc.? When your games are left to a completely digital access point, there is always the danger and threat of losing your games and access. Now, there is always the possibility of losing data and what not with any technology, but such is heightened with purely digital purchases. Imagine a cyber-attack that complete shuts down all PSN access without warrant, the brick and mortar shoppers aren’t going to look so dumb and wasteful then.
There is a major movement towards an all digital gaming future, completely removing the local shop and physical distributor out of the equation. There is no denying that doing so saves a little shelf space at home and a little time from our busy lives. Nonetheless, the problems are surmountable. In pushing to a completely digital set up for the generality of gaming, those players that prefer a hard copy and gaming store environment lose out. There is also the constant threat of technical issues shutting down the entire thing. Either way, if you like digital then download and if you like physical take trip to the shop; gaming is gaming.