Games going Digital: A Shift in the Industry

Xanzabar Avatar
Xanzabar GB Newbie *

Post by Xanzabar on Jul 11, 2019 15:23:45 GMT -7

It's Saturday, 1996. You're sitting in front of an analog television watching Animaniacs while you wait for you mom rocking out that perm. You're going to Circuit City later to get that new Pokemon game and try out that Crash Bandicoot demo. Your mom tells you to get ready. As you head out, you grab your Gameboy Color and a pocketful of rechargeable AA batteries.

Nowadays, physical games are less common with the introduction of their digital counterparts. Looking back at 90s and early 2000s, we had an array of physical retailers who are no longer around: KB Toys, Toys R' Us, EB Games, Hollywood Videos, Blockbuster and so on. A lot of these stores became obsolete as the internet created new ways of purchasing and experiencing games. These stores couldn't compete with internet retailers therefore had to go out of business.

There are some perks about physical games. One of them is being able to share them among friends or temporarily trading a game for something you don't have. Pre-owned games also tend to go on sale quite often as retailers try to make room for more inventory. I miss reading instruction booklets and looking at the box arts on and in some of the game cases.

When it comes to buying a digital game, you're not buying ownership of the game per se. You bought a license to play the game. If the service hosting your library goes down or even go out of service, your games are no longer accessible. Not that the industry is going to collapse on itself anytime soon. It's just to show awareness of what you're purchasing. On the plus side, games released in previous generations are no longer exclusively playable on their platform they were released for. It's possible to have a current gen console and play past iterations of a franchise nowadays. Right now, it's possible to play all mainstream Final Fantasy games on PC, for example.

With that said, the concept digital games has created a huge library with decades worth of games available to customers, all available through the internet. At this point, the gaming industry is starting to create services where you pay a monthyly fee to have access to these libraries. Sony has a service called PlayStation Now which allows customers to play a game instantaneously via streaming on PlayStation 3, 4 and PC. Microsoft also has a similar service called Xbox Game Pass but requires customers to download games before playing. Lastly, Google is releasing their gaming service, Google Stadia, which is a streaming service that prides itself on being playable on any device that has a good internet connection.

All in all, there are definitely some pros and cons to consider on both sides of the argument for physical and digital games. I like the idea playing games on service that is affordable, especially when the service has many games that I want to play. Paying for $10 to $15 instead of buying three games a month on average sounds economical. Although, this may cause some companies to exercise their exclusivity practices on their first party games.
DanthEx Avatar
DanthEx GB Staff *****

Post by DanthEx on Jul 12, 2019 8:28:17 GMT -7

I have a 2TB external hard drive plugging into my PlayStation 4 because the 500GB internal drive is shameful. I'm definitely a fan of purchasing my games online, I exclusively purchase from the PlayStation Store and have saved a lot of money on game sales that were still higher or still full price in-store. I enjoy having the peace of mind that I no longer have to worry about the physical condition or location of a game disc, if something were to happen to my hard drive or console, I would simply log into my PlayStation account on the next console and re-download my library.

I do however see the appeal in collecting the physical copy of games as it kind of builds a memorabilia collection which can be admired within your entertainment room.
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Xanzabar Avatar
Xanzabar GB Newbie *

Post by Xanzabar on Jul 12, 2019 16:03:04 GMT -7

GamingLyfe Avatar
If I was a betting man I'd wager that the next evolution of gaming data will be stored virtually or "on the cloud". However, that'll likely come with a monthly cost which we already have with PlayStation Network and Xbox Live, however, how much more is the question.
You're right. We have PSN and Xbox Live but those two aren't the only services. Recently, E3 introduced Ubisoft's cloud service and EA also has their own service as well.

Whether it's streamed or on the cloud, there will definitely be more competing platforms to play games on. The game industry is probably going to follow suit with how movie/show streaming services work: A company will put their media on a 3rd party platform to earn revenue and eventually create their own once they establish a good enough library.