News Article

Feature: The Desire for Physical Media

Posted by Thomas Whitehead

Digital isn’t always enough

Yesterday we reported that there’s a new SNES title on the way in 2013. That title is Nightmare Busters from developer Super Fighter Team, a run and gun action game with a planned pre-order run of 600 copies. The concept of developing for a console that's now four generations out of date is unconventional but not unprecedented — back in 2010 we explored the continuing trend of current-day game development for NES in our feature Homebrew Is Where the Heart Is. There are still indie developers creating new titles and selling them as bona-fide NES cartridges, as opposed to simply releasing them to the digital winds.

The upcoming SNES title, meanwhile, clearly targets gamers with retro collecting sensibilities. At what can certainly be considered a premium price of $68 for U.S. customers, the physical contents of a purchase are clearly as important as the game itself:

One (1) copy of Nightmare Busters for the Super Nintendo; a game cartridge with full colour label, which supports both PAL and NTSC based systems.
One (1) full colour instruction manual.
One (1) full colour cardstock box to house the game cartridge and instruction manual.

An emphasis on a label, manual and box with a cartridge may seem obscure to some current gamers, but it reflects the meaning of a video game as a physical object in previous console generations. Before the current batch of consoles, games almost always came in boxes, including a paper manual and the treasured cartridge, CD or DVD. For some collectors, or just gamers keen to retain their games from past times, these tactile objects represent nostalgia in its purest form.

Nintendo gamers can still indulge in this traditional quest for stylish boxes, collectable CDs and peripherals. Two of the most obvious examples are Super Mario All-Stars 25th Anniversary Edition and The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword’s Wii Remote Plus bundle. The actual game in the former was flawed in execution, arguably a lazy port, yet the edition included an illustrated booklet and soundtrack CD, so some Mario aficionados undoubtedly cast aside doubts about the true value of the package and put in pre-orders. These were bundled Mario titles that had been released in multiple forms, yet the attraction to buy these games all over again was intrinsically linked, for some, with the extra content that didn’t actually go anywhere near a Wii. The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, meanwhile, came with a soundtrack CD across the board, but there will have been a number of gamers who paid extra for an attractive box and a gold Wii Remote Plus.

Extras such as these add little, if anything, to the actual experience of the game. The appetite and market clearly exists, however, otherwise limited editions of this nature wouldn’t see regular release across all platforms. Titles that perhaps represent part of the Wii’s final hurrah, The Last Story and the soon to be released Pandora’s Tower, both have limited edition bundles that include features such as steel cases and the obligatory illustrated booklets and soundtrack CDs: some games clearly deserve more than a basic box and black and white manual.

As always, times change and the gaming industry progresses and evolves. As a new handheld generation gains momentum, and with next-gen home consoles also on the horizon, some feel the prominence of video game pack-in paraphernalia is slowly eroding. Nintendo’s 3DS has started the trend for the company, with Super Mario 3D Land and Mario Kart 7 being pertinent examples where instruction manuals have been replaced by minimalistic fold-out sheets: full instruction manuals are available on the game cart itself, following the same format as eShop software. Although it could be argued that this is an effort to save the environment, both of these titles still include plenty of paper in the form of warranty and advertising booklets.

The principal rival to 3DS, Sony’s PlayStation Vita, has in some games abandoned printed manuals entirely. Some retail boxes have no paper at all inside, or perhaps just one sheet of technical information, a sad sight for gamers with a tradition of thumbing through the manual before firing up their new prize. In fact, our Push Square team listed the lack of paper manuals as a negative before Vita even launched, an important part of gaming practice lost.

The greatest threat to traditional video game packaging is, of course, digital gaming — it’s already possible to download entire retail games on a number of platforms, with Nintendo currently bucking the trend. That's likely to change in the future, however, with Nintendo president Satoru Iwata stating that Nintendo is considering retail downloads on 3DS and Wii U. His comments suggest that it’s not a case of if it will happen, but when.

For the digital sales of the content, we are also considering the future possibility of digital distribution of packaged software, which is often referred to as “software download sales.” This concept was built into the design of the Nintendo 3DS, and we already have the necessary infrastructure. We will prepare the same infrastructure for the Wii U … as an option for the future, the significance of this business field will increase.

As our video games become digital, we’ll own little more than a licence to access software on a hard drive, or perhaps even via an online cloud service. If there’s no physical media, do you actually ‘own’ the game in any way? What happens if a cyber-attack wipes out your console’s servers or hard drive, the company hosting your game goes out of business, or if copyright issues arise and a game is changed or — in the worst case scenario — removed? If you’ve bought a digital copy, then you have little hope of keeping that original title in your collection if something goes wrong behind the scenes, nor do you have any tangible object to go back to in future years.

Trends will progress and issues about digital products will become more relevant with each passing day. For those of us who treasure our cartridges, CDs, boxes and manuals, we may need to look backwards into previous gaming eras to get our collector’s fix.

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User Comments (79)

AVahne

#2

AVahne said:

Good thing all 3rd party games I bought so far kept a real manual, albeit in grayscale (hooray for color in DoAD!).

Burning_Spear

#3

Burning_Spear said:

I still look fondly upon my old games, and I try to keep all of my games and accessories in A-plus shape. I realize I'm in the minority, but I like the retail packages and hope they can stick around a while longer.

Bass_X0

#4

Bass_X0 said:

A room full of cartridges or a Wii/3DS full of downloaded games?

Physical space is an issue for me since I also collect action figures (Transformers) and comics so I'd rather download games when possible (if they're cheap enough). I've just started using Comixology to buy comics too. I welcome the digital age.

Malkeor

#5

Malkeor said:

I love physical copies, I love opening a game box, smelling the book...mmm that smell. Reading it in the bathroom...all that good stuff, especially looking at beautiful Collector's Editions.
But as the future rolls on I don't think there's much we can do about it. Companies are going to cut down on resources, paper being one of them and we'll have digital copies.
Or we could have electronic paper inside out boxes made out of cheaper material, bio degradable packaging etc. if there is still a large demand for physical media in the future.

We don't know what will happen but you brought up a good point about cloud saves and harddrives because I always worry, about the hassle of exchanging data if I get a new system or whenever else i'll need to transfer files.
I worry about losing my data as well and if anything ever happens i'll lose all my games.
Things could become much more secure in the future though, which would be interesting to see how they handle the problems. It'll be a while though.

Beyond the ease and usually hassle free of simply downloading a PSOne Classic on PSN, I usually prefer hard copies. Unless it's an older hard to find game.

If I have the option to purchase a new game at a store like Mass Effect 3, instead of getting the digital copy, I do that instead. I'll mourn the manuals but I always like having the disc with me in case anything ever happens.
Besides who doesn't like having a shelf full of games? Your own software library is always something to be proud of. But there will always be different strokes for different folks. There will be those who don't want to bother with keeping up with all their stuff taking up space and will instead like to have a library will hundreds maybe even a few terabytes of easy to access information, in this case their games.

Overall I think we all kind of went into the future just a little bit too quick, we left some folks behind who are used to their cartridges and CDs, and we still haven't solved many of problems that come with digital options. Questions will be answered, but that's for the future. In a few years or towards the end of the decade I guess we'll find out.

Mik

#6

Mik said:

Yes, it's traditional - but tradition often holds people back. This is a seamlessly executed example of a situation in which tradition has been abandoned in favour of cost-effectiveness and modernity. It's the result of an evolutionary process.

Noire

#7

Noire said:

I'm one of those weirdos that finds downloading something much more satisfying than buying a physical copy.

Tasuki

#8

Tasuki said:

I will also prefer physical media over digital. The recent removal of TMNT from the Wii Shop proves why. When you buy digital media you are at the companies mercy as stated in the article once a company decided to stop a digital copy thats it its gone you cant get it anymore. At least with a physical copy you can still find it on places like Ebay or retro shops for example you don't have that luxury with digital. I mean if I want to buy TMNT on the VC now I am screwed but if I still want to buy it in cartridge form all I have to do is search Ebay and there it is.

As far as the instruction booklets go, it doesn't bother me if there isnt a physical copy of instructions. I like the fact that they include the instructions in the game that way if you buy the game used you still have the instructions. I remember buying used games in the past that didn't have instructions and as a result didn't know how to do moves in some games. With the instructions in the game itself that solves that problem.

CanisWolfred

#9

CanisWolfred said:

Accept the inevitable digital age!

EDIT: Ahem...having stuff is nice and all, but there are soooooo many more benefits to digital downloads that I find there isn't much point to having physical games anymore.

BTW, this whole article sounds more like old-man rambling than actually putting up a good case for physical products...

theblackdragonAdmin

#10

theblackdragon said:

when I've bought a physical copy, no one can take it away from me unless I sell it, give it away, or lose it myself. I can use it in any number of consoles I please, and no one can tell me I can't loan it out to a friend for a week if I want. years later, even if I sell my console now and rebuy it later, I can still play that game so long as I've kept the disc/cartridge/whatever. I don't have to worry about games having been dropped from (insert digital service here), I don't have to worry about games never making it to (insert digital service here) in the first place. those are my reasons for preferring a physical copy over digital.

shingi_70

#11

shingi_70 said:

Nawww. For example I've wanted to play a few older games or recent games that are hard to find but I could get them on xbox live way cheaper than retail.

coolvw93

#12

coolvw93 said:

im a fan of the physical copies of games, movies, and music. for some reason, im not comfortable downloading most of anything. im always afraid my system might crash and would lose all of the downloaded games that i had paid for. if a system does stop working, i know i can go out and buy a new one (it may be a while to save up for) i have done some down loads, but not many. i have only 2 or 3 wii ware games and maybe 5 virtual console games. I like hooking up my NES some days and playing super mario bros or pro wrestling or hooking up the N64 to play golden eye or hey you pikachu!...

Spoony_Tech

#13

Spoony_Tech said:

I'm OK with it. Specially on my 3ds. It would be nice to have all my games on the go and not have to switch out games all the time. Its a big reason why I never finish any of my games. I finish more eshop games then retail because of this reason. That and they're shorter! :-P

Tasuki

#14

Tasuki said:

@TBD: Exactly thats another reason I like physical over digital. Even though I dont have an NES I have games like Ducktales, Chip N Dale's Rescue Rangers and TMNT 3 that I am sure if I bought them digital back in the NES era (If digital purchases were around) I am sure that they would be no way I could get them now due to licensing issues. If that was the case they would be on the VC. Because I have them in cartridge from all I have to worry about is picking up another NES.

Dont get me wrong I am not saying physical is better I just prefer it over digital. IMO I can see a market for both and thats how it should be. Companies should offer both a physical and a digital version. Like what most PC games do nowadays. I remember when I ordered Starwars: The Old Republic EA's site offered a digital and a physical version for purchase.

TheToader

#15

TheToader said:

I love being able to have physical copies. Having the game box and carts are like little mementos or reminders of what you love. In fact, I'm sure anyone who subscribes to Nintendo Power feels the same way. I can get all of my information on the internet, and more specifically Nintendolife.- I really don't need a magazine; however, sitting on a cozy chair and reading the magazine is something special that I do every month.

Burning_Spear

#17

Burning_Spear said:

@Coolvw:

I like hooking up my NES some days and playing super mario bros or pro wrestling or hooking up the N64 to play golden eye or hey you pikachu!..

This. Except for me it's the NES version of Popeye!

Zergling

#18

Zergling said:

I am a huge supporter of physical media, however, I did just purchase my first digital download ever with Mutant Mudds on the 3DS. Great game that may have never seen a retail release.

Ryno

#19

Ryno said:

"If you don't hold it, you don't own it"

The day things go all digital is the day is the day I no longer spend my money on modern games. I don't like the recent minimal manuals and even owning retro games without their box and manual feel incomplete to me.

darklinkinfinite

#20

darklinkinfinite said:

My new game ritual usually involves opening the box in the car and reading the manual on my drive home (now that I'm the one driving I leaf through it in the parking lot) but damn do I love me some physical copies.

Sure you can get a lot of games cheaper by buying them digitally but for those of us that prefer physical copies its not just the game we want, we want part of the game to exist; that we can hold in out hands put on a shelf, look back on years later and look through again. We want part of the game to exist and be real. When they exist solely as data on my computer they're no more real to me than my resume word doc or the random youtube video I saw last week and don't even remember.

Even looking to the future, I can tell you that handing my Future kids their first copy of Super Mario Bros and seeing them hold it in their hands will be far more satisfying than giving them my Steam password or setting up their own account where I'll have to rebuy the games I could've otherwise just handed them.

ejamer

#21

ejamer said:

Did anyone else open Resident Evil: Revelations and really appreciate the manual that was included? It's slim, but attractive and filled with some good information.

Tasuki

#23

Tasuki said:

@TBD: HAHA Its funny you mentioned those two games. I just picked up Turtles in Time a few months ago on Ebay and I still have my copies of Tetris Attack from when I bought it new.

DarkLloyd

#24

DarkLloyd said:

if it goes all digital then it goes all digital, i'll accept that fact despite prefering physical copies everything whenever possible

OldBoy

#25

OldBoy said:

I'm a fan of both TBH.Digital is great for rare retro stuff.For example if I want to play Radiant SilverGun I either need to buy a Sega Saturn and a copy of the game (That's about £200 altogether) or I can download it from XBLA for less than £10 with additional features. I know which one my bank balance prefers!! But their is still something magical about a physical product, especially collectors editions.
I am sad to see the demise of the manual though.What I don't understand is they claim that its to reduce environmental impact yet they shove loads of Health and Safety manuals in the box.Seriously there must have been half a trees worth of paper in my Resident Evil Revelations + Circle pad pro box.H&S in about a million different languages.I'd rather have digital versions of these (or preferably none at all!! Its a f***in video game ,I get less H&S s**t with a chainsaw!!) and a decent paper manual.You can't beat the smell of a nice fresh manual.
Not sure where the future will take us on this issue, I imagine publishers will push for digital to end used sales,loaning games etc but I fully understand people's reluctance because you don't really own anything. I suppose if consumers really don't like it they can vote with their wallets, whether that will make a difference remains to be seen though.

Objection

#26

Objection said:

Physical ftw. If I'm gonna pay fullprice for a game (and admittedly I dont do that often) I want to feel like I made a nice purchase, a good deal. An attractive case and helpful, colorful manual is part of this. Skipping out on these makes me feel like I'm getting conned a little, which is why I hate "fake-manuals" (here, go to this site instead) and buying games with generic cases.

On the other hand, some games wouldn't see the light of day if they had to go through everything for a physical release and I understand and also support this path. But I don't feel like I own a digital game-because I don't, it's just a license. I can't get a refund or resell (most) licenses.

Mk_II

#27

Mk_II said:

i really dont like the trend towards digital manuals. i understand the reasons but i just love the whole package of a game; the box and manual are an important part of the expierence to me.

MayhemStaff

#28

Mayhem said:

Physical releases won't go away until publishers understand that people like holding items that are tangible; broadband infrastructure can support nationwide downloading on the gigabyte scale; and change their pricing model to understand that a lot of people trade-in or sell games to afford the next one.

Torchwood

#29

Torchwood said:

As someone who was born and is still growing up in the time of digital media, I can say that I love physical merchandise and if I ever find myself having to download the newest Zelda game on my console, I will stop buying games. The reason physical media is appealing to me is because I can trade with friends, display it, and resell it. If I buy a physical game, it still has value after I beat it and no longer want it. But you can't resell a PC download or Pushmo.

NassaDane

#30

NassaDane said:

I can't stand this Digital Fad going around. Who would ever want to buy something that isn't even Real? I can never stomach paying for something that I never even get. The sooner this fad leaves the better!

ToxieDogg

#31

ToxieDogg said:

@ 1 (BanjoKirby) My living room is like that, lol.

On the subject of download vs physical retail....download only will happen eventually....but it's going to be a VERY gradual process and not like some people seem to think, that's it's going to happen within the next generation of consoles or anything like that. I can't even see it happening in our lifetimes at this rate. But it will happen at some point.

Marakuto

#32

Marakuto said:

Pokemon HG actually was one I liked opening since the box was big and I read through all instructions.

The_Coz

#33

The_Coz said:

I enjoy both, honestly. There's some games I don't feel like spending my entire paycheck on, so downloading those titles are the easiest and cheapest option. Then there are games like EarthBound, where you can't really get the game any other way, (Legally, of course) without spending an absurd amount of money.

Buob

#34

Buob said:

I prefer physical due to the fact that if I get bored of the game, I can sell it. Sure, digital is easier, but what about buyer's remorse? If I bought a digital game and it wasn't as good as I thought it would be, I'm stuck with that game and wasted $X. That's just my opinion

Chrono_Cross

#35

Chrono_Cross said:

The only way I'm ever going to buy something digital, is if it's exclusively digital. For example Pushmo and Fat Princess. Both of which you cannot own physically and are digital exclusive.

Now for a downloadable game like inFamous or Call of Duty 4, I would rather buy those from a retailer because I can get the physical copy.

As one user already claimed, I too, will not continue my gaming if everything goes digital. I will just continue backwards and collect games from past generations.

Rawk_Hawk

#36

Rawk_Hawk said:

Physical games are great and look great on my shelf. Then again I like having a device that carries tons of games at the click of a button or tap of an icon.

RaylaxStaff

#38

Raylax said:

Why in the frig does the guy who took that first photo own seven identical blue DS Phat consoles?

ecco6t9

#39

ecco6t9 said:

There is something more special about physical media. I think it was History Channel I was watching and it was about records.

The man told how he was in the basement of a record store looking at history of singers and record labels that are now long gone. "This album was someone's dream at one point."

Gamesake

#40

Gamesake said:

I'm all for getting physical. But I've been warming up to digital downloads since I've had so much trouble finding older games in acceptable conditions.

madgear

#41

madgear said:

I'd be happy to move to digital only but we need more rights. Even tying them to an account, such as with XBox Live, seems very limiting. There's no way of knowing what's going to happen in the next generation with regards to digital content - will we lose some of it? Will we lose all of it? Will they continue to host games on their servers that have been discontinued forever?

If I want to play, say, my Sega Saturn collection, I have those games to hand. If the Saturn breaks, I just get a replacement console and can still play the games. With my Wii, however, will I always be able to play the digital games? Transfer them to a new machine if the current one breaks in the future after it has been discontinued? It's not likely.

Digital will only really take off if we're given complete freedom to move the files around - and not just with an account, but the files themselves from one console to another. It's unlikely to happen any time soon but, as it is, digital content on consoles is too new to argue the point that we'll always retain our purchases. It'll be interesting to see what happens with the next generation but I predict some outcry when people start losing games with the transfer that they can't even play if they retain their old machine.

belmont

#42

belmont said:

Just give full retail releases on 3DS like PSP/PSVita does, I will support them.
Since I got a PSPgo I liked digital since you only have a small portable device with tons of games and music in your pocket.
I may never go digital on PS3 but on a portable console it makes more sense.

FonistofCruxis

#43

FonistofCruxis said:

The addition of digital games is a fantastic addition to the industry as it allows modern gamers to experience many of the classics and digital download stores offer many entertaining games and its a great development for indie devs but I hope that digital download services continue to be mainly for retro games and original download games and that they never replace retail games. I like having something physical to hold, the boxart to look at, the game box to add to my pile of home console games or my pile of handheld games and the instruction manual to look through. While it can be exciting downloading a game, it doesn't feel as exciting as buying or receiving a retail game. Also, Tales of Symphonia and Tales of the Abyss (my two favourite games ever) wouldn't hold as much value to me if there wasn't something that contained the game that I could call my own. I will never sell those games, even if remakes are released on Nintendo consoles in years to come that are different enough to convince me to buy them, I will still keep my original copies because of the value that I see in those discs and that cartridge.

Gameday

#44

Gameday said:

Both are good to have indeed for different reasons. If your a collector its a must have for physical.

NintyMan

#45

NintyMan said:

While digital downloads definitely make getting games much more convenient, they don't have much fanfare. Sometimes a little fanfare can be nice. Right now, I prefer physical copies because it's nice to keep something that you touch and hold with your bare hands.

Sure, they can take up space, but after so long of it taking up space and you happen to stumble upon it later, you remember fond memories. It's always fun to find an old game manual or retro book you haven't read in years and read it again, or see an old figurine or toy. They're like video game heirlooms.

MasterGraveheart

#46

MasterGraveheart said:

The only thing keeping me supporting physical media is the desire of not wanting to see thousands of game store employees suddenly become unemployed. Otherwise, WHEN IT'S READY, I welcome an all-digital age.

...I'm keeping my cartridges, though. =P

RR529

#48

RR529 said:

I think there should be a nice balance of both retail and digital. When it comes to brand new games, I prefer retail because I enjoy the feeling of opening a new game, I like the boxart, reading the manual, and it simply has the advantage of being more secure.

I like digital for other reasons, however. Classic games are perfect for the digital space, as we no longer have to plunk down the cash for those retro collections which may only have a few games I want out of ten or so (think the Sonic collections or Fighting Anthologies). It also allows indie developers to bring their ideas to the world without the huge monetary risk of trying to secure a retail release. On that note, even big companies can release new ideas or IPs with little risk (look at Nintendo's own Pushmo, Sakura Samurai, and Rolling Western).

espinozac7

#50

espinozac7 said:

Nintendo, just make game cards so that when you put the game card in a Nintendo 3DS, the game will download onto the 3DS.

HaNks

#51

HaNks said:

steam has basically led the way for a more democratic digital market for games. titles and especially old/retro releases are agressively discounted to price points that drive the most revenue from sales. console developers and especially nintendo have yet to really catch up to this way of doing business, to their detriment.

is the reliance on physical media a reason for this? perhaps...i believe consoles should use a physical medium for the forseeable future. but now that fully downloadable titles is an option, the greater efficiency of taking the downloadable route needs to be discounted in the price. perhaps limit physical issues to fewer runs and raise the physical premium higher to drive people who aren't as bothered to the download.

the entire market landscape is changing, retailing being replaced by warehouse delivery services (amazon) and moving toward increasingly peer to peer trading systems. physical mediums will continue to have a market, it just has to be made (priced) independently to the other distribution methods.

gabriev

#52

gabriev said:

@48 you hit the nail right on the head, but I'm going to expand that a little bit. Everyone notices the current recession in progress and its not getting any better because of this digital war, frankly the only people that are going to forever have jobs are the food industry

Look at the loss of borders, those that worked there were forced to resturants and such due to amazon and e-books

Now amazon ships movies

Sunco sold movies, with netflix and ammazon those people went to resturants

Gamestop if those people loose their jobs they go to resturants

Those items made have to be shiped if its all digital no need for all the drivers, they go to resturants for jobs

Those that manufactor those products loose thief jobs

Entire malls are closing down because digital is "easier". And everyone is bum rushing the food industry looking for what they feel is a garonteed job... Because everyone has to eat right?

The problem is If you have a major influx of jobs all swarming the food industry but no one can afford to live off one table at a tip of 2 dollars, you will resort to theft inside the food buisness be it in money or food for your family
Guess what they Loose jobs

goverment will start to fall because they run out of money because they can't tax digital and they can't tax componys that are now out of buisness and closed down be it media, wherehouse, gaming, and food and they have to support the welfare on top of that

So now gaming componys are not making but 3 bucks on digital games cause the low class people are broke, they go out of buisness.

And don't think its not happining cause it is. And everything started crumbling 8-10 years ago, with eBay and ammazon

Nothing and I mean nothing but information and comunication should be put on the internet, no games no distribution companys, no music, no movies let the internet be just for information. Make people go out into the world and work these jobs for a living to support there family and recreation screw the digital world for comfort and ease, lazy basturds I hope you loose your house cause you can't find a job in this crouded world.

tanookisuit

#54

tanookisuit said:

Well dfor me I've seen the writing on the wall for 10 years and as far back I've kept the same train of thought. I'm not going to pay full retail for a game where I essentially am no more than long term renting it. If I can not have a copy to keep in case something bad happens (dead hardware, dead publisher/developer, license snafu, theft, whatever...) I have little to no interest in further buying the product. The way I feel is that if I have no right to keep the game, then I'm not going to commit more than what would get me a couple value meals at McD's($15~) on a game. I do it currently with the PS3, and if Nintendo grew up and gave us accounts instead of even less rights bound to hardware downloads the too. I'm fine blowing more on Steam, I can back the game up, and if they go under they'll unbind the titles from their loader.

There's tens upon tens of thousands of games to look back on from the late 70s forward and stock or with little work can run on any modern tv, so if they want to take my rights away, I'll take my revenue to the hands of the used market as there's more than a lifetimes worth to play with out there.

XCWarrior

#55

XCWarrior said:

I love owning physical copies of things. If it's digital, I have a hard time paying more than $5 than it because its just a file. $15 is the most I've ever paid for a digital game (World of Goo), and my goal is to keep it that way.

Physical copies make my gaming collection awesome.

bonesy91

#56

bonesy91 said:

while I do love physical media (stares at oracle zelda game cases) but after owning a PS3, I can see why digital is the way to go. Well, if done right. And if internet companies start giving us better download speeds. (4 days to Download inFamous)

But the simple fact is. Physical media cost more, can get lost or even break. And if games went digital prices could drop due to not having to produce copies in a factory. New releases would be available sooner and you wouldn't have to worry about the game not working in several months time.

Setrodox

#57

Setrodox said:

One perk of physical media is that when great games misses the market, the price drops. I've picked up over a dozen games in the last year for under $20 each! Digital media will never have extra unsold copies of a game floating around the market.

wiz0_0

#58

wiz0_0 said:

You never really "own" a digital game, even though you pay for it. Hidden deep within those terms of service agreements are clauses that state the company distributing the software has the power to remove that software at any time.

Even though digital media is the future, it's definitely not the safest method. I'd stick to physical for as long as I can.

tanookisuit

#59

tanookisuit said:

#56 you do realize a flaw in your argument is that sure a real game can break, but it's not the only copy so you can replace it. Let's say 10 years from now on your PS3 your favorite game as a kid on that which happens to be let's say Joe Dangerous(that 3d excitebike knockoff) and your PS3 eats it. Sony has moved onto the PS4 or PS5 at this time, and those old games are off the server and gone. What do you do then when you want to play that stunt game? Sony won't help you, they erased it and moved on to 2 newer systems. You lose, they got your money, and you don't have a game.

TheRegginator

#61

TheRegginator said:

I only prefer digital copies of retail games when it comes to PC gaming. It's probably because of the affordability of memory and cheaper games.

AXEL314

#62

AXEL314 said:

Honestly, game "manuals" like SM3DL are perfectly fine with me. What's the point of being "Eco-friendly" with the game case if you're going to waste paper and print a needless manual. The digital manuals included with most games are more than enough (and more convenient) for folks living in the 21st century.

hendie001

#63

hendie001 said:

maybe im a geek but my collection is starting to look like that pic and i love it. i still play my old systems and thumb through my old game packs and booklets . i will sorely miss physical game packs :<

StuffyStuff

#64

StuffyStuff said:

If I have the choice of seeing someone in person or Skyping with them, I'm obviously going to prefer seeing someone in person, but I'll Skype if it's the only option, which is what we're faced with today. The concerns brought up in the article are valid. It seems to me that it's another way to see what we're doing at all times. Usage of digital media can be monitored in a cloud service and if someone does something violent in person, it can be used as a smear tactic on the gaming industry.

Also, Why are games more expensive today when they're giving us less content in the form of physical materials?

chiptoon

#65

chiptoon said:

Its generally cheaper to buy retail for me due to the cost of bandwidth where I live.

millarrp

#66

millarrp said:

While I understand how digital downloads would be ideal for people that no longer have the origional console (myself included), I still like the idea of holding the physical media in my hands, at least for the current generation content.

chrisy

#67

chrisy said:

I'm firmly in the physical camp, having a tangible product makes me feel I own the game and have paid something for it, which makes me want to play it more. I can see advantages to digital downloads, but I'm too paranoid of losing digital purchases, or the service going and not allowing me to play the game even if I have my own backup. Digital downloads actually make pirate versions look more attractive :(

Also digital versions don't tend to be any cheaper if the same product is available in both formats, which is ridiculous given the amount of money that must be saved from the materials, manufacture, distribution etc.

I bought an MP3 album from Amazon the other day (because they had an offer on). Ended up writing to CD, printing my own inlay for the jewel case. It probably cost me more in the end (factoring in time etc) then the proper boxed version, and ended up looking like a dodgy copy I'd got off Knock-off Nigel, because of course they don't provide digital copies of the case artwork, I've also missed the little booklet and any information/lyrics/pictures in there. For an extra 20p (had there not been an offer on) I could have got the full physical product with all extras, and ripped it to MP3 myself for digital playback. The best of both worlds, only disadvantage being having to wait a day for delivery - which can be mitigated by going to a physical shop.

Drawdler

#69

Drawdler said:

I forgot to type this: Another reason to keep physical is for the excitement. It just isn't as fun waiting to download something, as going out to the shop, tracking down your copy, and holding it in your hands. I'm all for digital copies but only if they remain completely and utterly optional... I would only download full games if I completely and utterly had to. :(

JimLad

#70

JimLad said:

I love having the physical game, but when it comes to digital downloads I think the positives far outweigh the negatives.
One day when all games are digital and there is a rating system, video games will finally be judged and ranked honestly by the people who own them. Truely great games will never again go unheard of, no matter how small the studio or obscure the idea. There will also be demos for everything, so shovelware will never again prevail. Without retail, a lot of developers will be free to set their own price, so smaller games will cost a lot less. Case in point: Trials HD for XBLA costs about £10. I've had more fun out of it than most retail games in the last five years. Also it has sold over 2million copies, and the sequel looks to be about 10 times better for the same price.

Samholy

#71

Samholy said:

yeah all these booklets were nice back in the days. i still have my old final fantasy, zelda, final fantasy 6, chrono trigger manuals. these were chunky, filled with a partial walkthrought, skill guides, item list,weapons and equip guide,etc.

but even if these are nice gimmicks, theyre not eco-friendly. i storngly encourage the digital booklets, for the sake of our earth.

and i question the necessity, else than health warnings, for the these booklets. With internet, Faqs are everywhere (Gamefaqs!!!) wiki is there. Nintendo life is there. Dont waste trees for the stupid feeling of collecting stuff.

Bass_X0

#72

Bass_X0 said:

It just isn't as fun waiting to download something, as going out to the shop, tracking down your copy, and holding it in your hands.

Downloading a game means you can have your game in minutes without having to leave your own room. Can't get faster than that.

sdcazares1980

#73

sdcazares1980 said:

I appreciate people’s nostalgic feelings for physical media. In some cases, it still provides some advantages such as not having to wait hours and hours to download a game, having to return the game for some cash, and lending games to other fellow gamers. And there was a time when those products were actually hot on the market, and that’s a feeling that time can’t take away (hence the nice pic on the article).

Now, for the record, I’m 32 years of age, and have been gaming for over 25 years, so I don’t want to hear (or read in this case), that I’m “unappreciative” of the old-school stuff because it’s untrue and irrelevant.

So, needless to say, here is where I dissent from the article. While the physical media still has a place in today’s world, with today’s technology, I’m much more appreciative over the fact that I no longer have to blow the cartridges to get the game working. I also no longer have to worry about my games getting stolen nor getting damaged in anyway so that I don’t have to pay to replace them. I also no longer have to worry about the excessive clutter that takes up a lot of physical space in bookshelves and other places. (Not to mention that I’m allergic dust, so freeing up a lot of space alleviates me from that). Some people made some good arguments that the physical media wears out over time and this is true. Digital media will never have this kind of problem as long as the consoles will last.

For those of you who are worried about replacing the games, rest easy: the company does have a record of your purchase, so if any reason your game gets “lost”, you can always download them for free, even those that are no longer available on the market (such as TMNT for the NES or Double Dragon for the XBLA). For those who are worried about the company going bankrupt, the company’s new owners will still sell the games (Mortal Kombat for example), and they will have your information that was held under previous ownership (Direct2Drive to GameFly).

I’m not sure what the argument is against digital manuals. I personally prefer tutorials over reading the manual so I won’t have to worry about going back and forth on what buttons to push. Also, Super Mario All-Stars should’ve been a VC release instead of the Anniversary Edition on the Wii disc.

The bottom line is that digital downloads are here to stay. There are many more reasons on why they should exist than not. I’m frustrated by the fact that Nintendo has not released ALL of the games that they released in physical forms from the past, but IMO, it’s not worth the hassle or the space to keep the physical games for a nostalgic rush. Many of the digital games, as much as I liked them, I play no more, but it is still nice that they are in the hard drives of my Wii, Xbox 360, and PC, knowing that they maybe a time in which I would like to play them again. Besides, I don’t want to get “seller’s remorse” in thinking that I sold a good game in which I got a fraction of the price back.

Pj1

#74

Pj1 said:

Shame Nintendo can't do some more retro physical releases! it would be great and it would work. I still think (all though people will say I'm stupid) I still think Nintendo could still sell retro games consoles, a brand new nes or N64 anyone?

bonesy91

#75

bonesy91 said:

@tanookisuit

while that may be true, I doubt Sony would drop the PSN items that they have in the future, what I mean is yes the systems will get better but when they reach the point of say how the Ipod works with it's firmware, then all past versions of content will work with future versions of said systems. (Ipod first gen games still work on later gen models) and I highly doubt seeing the PSN PS3 titles not work on PS4 to even PS5.

StarDust4Ever

#76

StarDust4Ever said:

Ah yes, the indestructible cartridge? Where are the good old days when cartridges were thrown about and nothing but the gentlest blowing on the contacts (or possibly Q-tips + alcohol) was required to get them to work again? Digital downloads will be lost forever with time; nobody will be playing them 20 years later on forgotten hardware. My NES as well as the original Super Mario Brothers cartridge still works, even though it is 25 years old by now.

@bonesy91 all the TMNT games on PSN, Xbox, and Wii VC are already gone now. Don't count on it.

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