Digital distribution may be the way of the future but Victor would rather cling to the past.
It looks like, in a console generation or two, game companies will be favoring digital distribution over pressing out discs. And why shouldn’t they? If all games are only available online, they don’t have to go through the headache of producing millions of discs and shipping them out to retailers. Retailers don’t have to decide which games get more prominent shelf space or have to keep their unsold inventory for ages. Gamers also get the benefit of getting the games from the comfort of their own home. It’s a win-win for both, right?
It’s an attractive proposition, I’ll give your that. But I’d rather this be an option rather than the standard. I honestly enjoy going through all the trouble of buying a physical copy of the game disc.
I love going to the store and looking at the stacks of games available. Unlike Steam or other online stores, you simply can’t get that feeling of awe you get in the store. Sure, there are more games available online but you have to know what you want. There are times when I go to the store and find a game I wanted to get but never got around to buying.
There’s a sense of community in each and every store with everyone having the same purpose. I’ve had some great conversations with other fellow gamers regarding what games they’re getting from out of the blue. Some of them even gave me a few recommendations based on the game I was getting; I would’ve never played Fallout 3 if it weren’t for some stranger telling me the world was much bigger than the one in Grand Theft Auto 4. You can’t the same thing from the “More Like This” section or the comments area.
There’s also the satisfaction of watching your collection grow when you get a physical copy. No matter how big or small it may be, there’s no denying there’s a great feeling of stepping back from a shelf filled with your previous purchases and admiring your personal collection. It’s definitely much more awesome than looking a bunch of icons and tabs that are supposed to represent your purchases, right?
It’s also nice to look at the box art. Even crappy box art like the US MegaMan and Ico games is much better than having no box art at all! And while most gamers toss the manual out, I’m the rare breed that loves going through them. I’ve had so many fond memories of reading the monster profiles of The Legend of Zelda on the NES. It’s a shame that most games out now don’t put that much care into creating manuals anymore but that’s a topic for another time.
Also, digital downloads should theoretically be cheaper than physical copies. I mean, they don’t have to spend on creating a layout for the box art or print out manuals. Yet, most of the time, they’re not! In fact, it usually takes a much longer time for the digital version’s price to go down than their disc-based brethren! I can get the disc version of Beyond: Two Souls for roughly $40 at my local store right now. Yet, the PlayStation Store is still selling the same game for “only” $59.99!
Finally, it feels unceremoniously anti-climatic completing a purchase by clicking on the “Confirm” button. There just isn’t the same feeling of security and satisfaction of holding something tangible in your hands. The weird aroma of slightly burnt plastic when you first open up the game box is like taking a whiff of that “new car” scent. Buying a game at the store is more fulfilling to me.
Yes, digital downloads will eventually be the “standard” and I know I’ll have to get used to it in the future. But, for now, I’m going to stick to supporting my local store and buying my games there.
Besides, how can you kiss your games goodnight if they’re stuck in a hard drive?