Digital vs Physical : A Gamers Perspective

Recently I read an article that stated in the next 12 months TV would no longer be the primary outlet for entertainment and that it would begin losing numbers to hand held devices with digital/streaming capabilities.

It got me thinking about everything going digital and what sort of effect it has on us, our pockets and our lifestyle as a whole.

From my perspective digital loses out against a physical copy.

From a gaming view I understand the ease of a digital only version as it is already in your device, you don't have to get up and change a disk and you don't have to find room on your shelf to put it. These are all valid points and ones I can 100% agree with, however I have two main gripes about this new trend. Price and ownership....

Price, well that is pretty straight forward. Living in Australia we all know we are getting ripped off for our digital content and it will soon be even worse, but when there is a $30+ difference in the price of a game, I know where I'll be spending my money.

Usually, I can go to the local store, put a pre-order for a special edition game, with the disk and some special collectors piece, for the same price as I am paying for a standard edition online.

Being the sort of person I am, I like to walk into one store where I know it will be more expensive and play them off against another store to see where I can get the best deal. This is not something you can do online, nor is there any real competition to drive those prices down. Playstation or Xbox, you can only buy from your respective stores. For PC I only know of Steam, which seams to be reasonably priced, but that is a US based service.

In my mind because I don't have something physical to touch, no one has to handle it, it doesn't get shipped or printed on a disk, then it should be cheaper, considerably cheaper.

I am all for paying for games and the joy and outlet they provide are worth every cent. Yet if more of those cents stay in my pocket, that's a good thing too.

Ownership is something that has always concerned me. I know I don't own the rights to something when I purchase a "copy", but I do believe that I should be able to use the copy that I have paid for in whatever way I choose, especially when it is within standard terms and guidelines.

The biggest issue with a digital copy in my mind is the inability to share around with mates, or even just to take it with you to show off a new game. With the price of goods skyrocketing and the amount of new content available to play, there is really no way to keep up financially.

My group of friends and I that all used to play PS3 had a deal, we would take turns in buying the latest release game, then pass it on when done. This gave us a chance to play different games, it was a face to face social interaction and saved the wallet being destroyed every 2 weeks.

Yes the first response to this is "well you're not helping the gaming industry by sharing games" but the fact is, we were. Many times one sale turned into two at least, generally due to wanting to kick each others arse online or to get stuck into some co-op. As we were not spending big dollars on every game that came out, this opened up room for us to get other games at a discounted price or something different to try, so again, helping out the industry.

Unfortunately I see digital media confining us more than helping to set us free. It is a contributing factor to us isolating ourselves from those personal social interactions.

I for one have not purchased anything digital media related online as yet, due to the above reasons.
Though I do have an online presence. I have my PSN account and I do sell a small amount of photography online, but I make a fraction what I would selling a finished product.

So I leave you with these questions.

  • Is anything that you buy digital, that you do not physically have in your hands ever going to be truly yours? 
  • Should digital media be better regulated so that the savings from not having to make a physical copy be passed onto us?
  • Is "couch co-op" or sharing a game a thing of the past and does this effect the way you game?
Be sure to leave your thoughts in the comments below or on our Facebook page. 

Pat (Snoogans)

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