Please read the full article before responding! I’m always getting people making arguments I’ve addressed in the article itself, so please try and take everything in, I know it may be hard if you disagree with it, but please bear with me!
This topic has been really bothering me, I personally don’t like downloading games, because I’ve had almost nothing but bad experiences with downloads, I much rather get my games on disc, despite the DRM PC games have these days, it’s good to have a game on your shelf.
Me and my friends have been having a debate on which is better, I prefer physical, like I said, so does my friend, but he seems more than willing to switch to digital when the “digital age” comes, I will personally be dreading it.
Before I start, I want too point out that people complain about the PC and Xbox One when it was planned to have DRM for blocked used games, saying you can’t share or trade games in, yet people embrace downloads, which have the EXACT same restrictions? To me, that’s like, for lack of a better analogy, going against hanging because it kills people, but supporting hung, drawn and quartered! It makes no sense!
Most of the time, digital games cost more than their physical counterparts, especially on consoles and handhelds, Animal Crossing: New Leaf is £5 cheaper physical, physical games sound like a no brainer, doesn’t it? Well people are downloading the games anyway, Animal Crossing: New Leaf broke records on the e-shop…
It baffles me how stupid people can be, you spent £5 more for essentially more for your money, not just the fact you get no case or cartridge, you can’t share that game with others, or even give to a friend when you’re finished with it, or trade it in! Also, when the 3DS gets discontinued, and the e-shop servers go down, you better hope you still have it installed, otherwise, good luck trying to play it again!
Even if you prefer downloads, you can’t justify the higher price, and the fact you can’t share or trade in that game!
Everyone I’ve talked to always mention virtual console, “What about virtual console?” they ask, well, they couldn’t of brought up a worse example. Virtual Console is the best example of why digital downloads are bad, half of the 3rd part companies, most notably Sega, have all taken their games down from VC, they always tell me “Well, Sega are ar*eholes!”, which isn’t the point, the point is, they’ve done it, and nobody’s stopped them, they have full control over what you can and can’t get. Heck, I’d be surprised is anyone who bought their VC games got a refund or anything from it. Sure, they’re only old games you can buy the originals of anyway, but it shows the power publishers have over the consumer.
If a company decided to stop manufacturing a physical game and stops selling it, it’s still very much possible to track down a copy of that game, if a company decides to stop selling a digital game, it’s gone forever…
That’s exactly why companies are trying to switch to digital as soon as possible, companies, especially publishers, want full control over the consumer, they want to call all of the shots, and they want us to just take all the crap they will throw at us, digital downloads gives them the power to do that!
Not just with virtual console, but with downloadable Nintendo games in general, the game is tied to the console, and not any account, so if you accidentally lose or break your 3DS or Wii U, all your games go, too! Unless you bother with spending days of contacting Nintendo, and they shop you bought the console from, in order to either get a refund, or move the games over. This isn’t come rumour I’ve heard, I can vouch for it, I have a story to tell youse: My brother once had a Wii U, he (or should I say out mum) bought Lego City Undercover from the e-shop, £50 it costed us! It turned out he didn’t have the space for the game, the Wii U only has 25GB of space, the game took up 26GB. If Nintendo are going to be shoving digital games down our throats, the least they could do is provide enough memory for games, but I digress.
He cancelled the download for the game, and bought the physical copy for Amazon, which I may point out was £10 cheaper, it even included a little figure! He got it, played through it, etc., no troubles there.
He later on took his Wii U back (I still have mine) to get himself a laptop, he was later on charged for the digital copy of Lego City Undercover, despite not fully downloading it, my mum is trying to contact Nintendo for a refund for the game, but was told they needed the serial number of the console, but we no longer had the Wii U with us, so we couldn’t give them the serial number, it would’ve made more sense to ask for the Nintendo Network account, but whatever.
We have to contact the store where we bought Wii U from to get the serial number, that was a couple of days ago… still no refund.
Already, getting a refund for out digital game has been a LOT more hassle than if we wanted a refund for a physical game. All you need for them is a receipt, and even if that’s lost, you can trade it in used and get something for it.
In summary, we payed £10 extra for a version of a game that you can’t play, or get a refund for… I’m so looking forward to the digital age!
That’s another thing, space, not so much with PC games, but consoles never have the space to store enough games, AAA at least. Sure, digital games can save shelf space, but not much, the Wii U for example can barely hold 1, and anything by Sony or Microsoft could hold maybe 3 or 4, not much at all, is it?
Even with Sony and Microsoft’s consoles, once the console is discontinued, and servers go down you better hope you have your digital games installed, otherwise, good luck trying to play them again.
PCs can probably hold quite a few, I’ll admit, the PC is probably the best platform for downloads, the download clients still have their problems though:
Steam (as a DRM, not as an indie game store) I think is overrated, don’t get me wrong, Valve make terrific games, I love the half life and portal games, and Team Fortress 2 is good fun, but people don’t need to suck up to them! Steam isn’t as great as people make it out to be, in fact, when you think about it, it’s no better than Origin, a client made by EA, the greediest company alive! Steam doesn’t allow used sales or trade-ins, and you need online and a code to validate games, meaning those who lack internet are screwed! Steam has an offline mode for already-validated games? So does Origin! Steam has discounts all the time? So does Origin!
Like Origin, Steam games are more expensive than their physical counterparts, not as expensive, but it’s still bad. The sad thing is, the US PC market appears to have abandoned physical games for good, which is kind of depressing. For the curious US gamers, yes, Europe still has a physical market, with companies even releasing their DLC in the form of download codes in cases!
Another PC download client I’ll mention is GOG.com, to be honest, I kind of like GOG, it’s almost like how Virtual Console should be, while I would still rather get the games on discs, I can live with GOG, their games have no DRM, and they go for very good prices, usually under $5, let alone pounds! If there’s a game I can’t find physically, I wouldn’t mind getting it from GOG.
I guess that would conclude my rant, it’s off my chest, and I feel much better after letting it out! Before, I go I will mention a benefit of downloads, the only one I can see: Download markets are good for indie gamers to get popular, I suppose I wouldn’t mind getting an indie game digitally if it means supporting the developer. Who knows, maybe it’ll lead to a physical version in the future, like some indies have.
However, I think it’s possible for indie developers to release physically as well, there exists services like Kunaki and Cafepress, who offer to make and distribute physical games for free. They do, however take away from any sales made, but from what I’ve heard, so do services like Steam and Desura. With that said, you can start physically selling your game with zero money on you, if you do that alongside your digital releases, then the way I see it, in the worst case scenario, you’ll make a bit of extra money. Some people have said that would “punish” those buy it digitally, but I don’t get how it would, could someone please explain it to me…
If you’re games successful enough, you won’t even need to do that, there are publishers in Europe and Oceania, such as Merge Games and Lace Mamba, who specialise in releasing popular indie games physically, DRM-free, with any extras, such as the soundtrack and a Steam gift-key, to give to a friend. Popular Indie games, such as Limbo, Binding of Isaac, Super Meat Boy and Awesomenauts, all have physical versions for sale on Amazon (I have a feeling Don’t Starve is around the corner as well, seeing how popular that is, so I’ll wait to get that). They’re cheaper than if you were to buy the digital equivalent of the stuff on Steam, and also, you can have the games on your shelf! So if you haven’t got the games, I’d say their worth a look.
When I make my indie games, I of course hope to have the latter happen to me, but most likely, the former will happen, I’m fine with that.
So I guess this actually end on a high note, maybe if there’s an indie out there I’m genuinely interested in getting (apart from Super Meat Boy, Pro Wrestling X and A Hat In Time, but a physical version of the former exists, and latter 2 will have physical version coming out), I might consider getting the game digitally, if it means supporting the developers, and if they release a physical version later on, and I like the game, I’ll be the first to get that!