Future of gaming: Digital or Physical?


Remember when you had either the Sega Genesis or Super Nintendo? Your parents would buy you new games here and there for the console. You’d get a box that held the cartridge and an instruction manual. You’d take the cartridge, put it in your console, and play the game. It was simple, but it was how playing a new game went. The same was true when you went further forward in time with newer consoles. In fact, even to this day on the PS4, Wii U, and Xbox One, you can buy games and put new discs into your console. But there is a lot more movement towards a different form of getting new games. That’s the digital download world.

That’s a world that’s obviously at its strongest on smartphones/tablets. That’s really the only way you can play games on those, so it’s sensible that you have to download games there without a physical copy. But even the console developers are trying to get you to download games digitally. Most of the major Sony games are available day 1 on Digital vs Physicalthe PlayStation Network. I believe the same is true for Microsoft, and I’ve bought several major brand new games on the Eshop for my 3DS and Wii U. Having the option to purchase digitally isn’t a bad thing to me. In fact I love it. But there are a lot of gamers that I know of and see that only like things being physical. And that looks like it could likely change one day.

Think about it: what are one of Sony’s and Microsoft’s major goals with both the PS4 and Xbox One? Cloud gaming. Not only is that not physical, but you need a consistent internet signal to enjoy some of their offerings and enhancements. If you buy a physical game, say Batman Arkham Origins, and you need to update it with a patch but you don’t have the internet, guess what? You can’t update your game. So even though you bought a game physically, you have to miss out on the full potential because of the digital push. You can’t say that game companies, whether console makers or game makers, aren’t pushing for a more digital future. There are even rumblings, though unconfirmed that I’ve seen, that Sony is planning on PlayStation Now being their future console essentially.

And why not? You can, at some time in the future, play PS1,2,3,4, and PSP games on your PS Vita, PS3, PS4, certain TV’s, the PlayStation TV (micro console), and even phones/tablets because of the PS Now service. That is truly great, unless you like getting your games physically. You’ll never have the ability to enjoy that physically other than using a controller to play the games. Physical games still are released  now, and that’ll likely continue for a while at least. So there is good news if you enjoy gaming physically and don’t want to be forced to download your games. But it would seem that that will be short lived after a few more years, if the plans by Sony and others are to be believed.

How do you feel about physical vs digital? Do you enjoy getting your games in person and putting them in your console? Or do you prefer to download your games? I think both have a place in this day and age, but I definitely think that digitally purchasing and playing games will only take off more and more as time goes. If that keeps going something will suffer eventually, and that’ll be physical game releases.

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