Why Digital Downloads Rule!

It might come as a surprise that I love legally digital downloading games. I’m the type of guy that has literally thousands of games, most of which are in storage at the moment. So what’s the appeal of digital when I love me some stuff. Well the honest truth is, space, and easy access. I know a lot of you reading this likely have massive game collections, and you’re rightfully proud of them. I’m exactly the same, but over the last two years my collection has been in storage, and while I do miss not being able to make a bunch of retro video reviews for our YouTube channel, I largely don’t miss the games. Why is that, well for the most part it’s because I’m so preoccupied playing a bunch of other games that I simply don’t have the time to go back and play through my classics. That’s not the whole story though, let’s dig a little deeper.

When I build my gaming PC last year it opened my eyes to the power of digital downloads. I’ve been a member of Steam since the mid-2000s, but it wasn’t until last year that I really started to go heavy into downloading all my PC games. I now have over 100 games on Steam, all available within two seconds of booting the program and hitting the “Play” button beside the game I’m interested in. All these games take no shelf space whatsoever. They’re all stored on my hard drives. I built this computer to be able to hold at least four HDDs, so why not put them to good use, right? As for the storage, my house is less cluttered than ever before, making room for all sorts of other crap.

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An example of a random Google image search for a large game collection. That’s a lot of space wouldn’t you agree?

Next up New Super Mario Bros. 2 on the eShop for the 3DS. That’s when I realized that, so long as you have enough space, why not continue the trend I started on my PC. So I did just that. I downloaded NSMB2 and this year Fire Emblem Awakening. While I haven’t had much time to play them thanks to the reviews for the site, it’s amazing how well digital downloads work. Take Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon for example. I could wait for Sunday morning to rush out and pick it up, or I could simply download it from the eShop at midnight. What’s the easier solution? I also don’t have to worry about misplacing a cart while going on vacation. I just bring my 3DS, and my 32GB SDHC card with me and I’m all set. The same is true for the Vita, just grab the system itself and I’m good to go.

Mobile devices like the iPhone, and iPad work much the same. Everything I’ve ever downloaded from the App Store is ready for me on a moment’s notice. I don’t have to worry about where game X, Y, or Z is, I just grab the device and I’m all set. Being able to have that same easy access on consoles is the next logical step, but something important needs to happen first.

You can store thousands of games on a large enough HDD.  That leaves your home empty for you to fill it with other useless garbage.
You can store thousands of games on a large enough HDD. That leaves your home empty for you to fill it with other useless garbage.

Let’s take my friend Eric as an example. He switched to digital downloads on his PS3 about the time Sony really started to make inroads into releasing content on the PSN. Since that time he has gone through a 500GB HDD, and now is about to max out his 750GB HDD. So the problem here is, space. In all the above-mentioned devices, space is always a key factor. Sure on the 3DS, Vita and mobile devices it’s not too bad. You could always delete a game or app and download it later on, but these games and apps are relatively small compared to a 12GB console game. Much like on PC, I keep most of my games in Steam and Origin, I don’t delete them, and that’s mainly because the file sizes are so damn large. By the time I get the itch to play a game again, I don’t want to wait over an hour for it to re-download. Wii U has already fixed this problem by allowing games to be stored on an external HDD, so simply pick up a TB or two and you should be good to go for a long time. If the PS4 and the next Xbox allow the same, this issue will be solved right from day one.

I don't know about you, but I'd rather be playing my games than waiting for them.
I don’t know about you, but I’d rather be playing my games than waiting for them.

The next factor that needs to be addressed is pricing. Retailers like Wal Mart and Amazon have discount prices on games all the time, but those sales rarely come to digital services on consoles. It’s a complete non-issue on Steam, in fact the opposite is true. When Steam has their sales my wallet takes a punch, but that’s something the console makers are going to have to fix moving forward. Why pay $50 for a digital download when the disc version is on sale for $20 on Amazon? Another issue is why the games cost the same across all platforms. That doesn’t add up. A digital download shouldn’t cost me the exact same as the physical disc. It should be at least a few dollars less, ideally $10.

So that’s my two cents on the subject, and if everything pans out like I expect it to, I don’t foresee myself buying a disc game or a cart ever again. There’s simply no need of it anymore. Over the past little while I’ve picked up Tomb Raider, Fire Emblem: Awakening, MLB 13: The Show, Crysis 3, and SimCity all without ever leaving the comfort of my home. Why bother with per-orders, long lines or camping out, when I could be playing my games instead of waiting for them. What do you think of digital downloads? Are you for or against, and why?

5 thoughts on “Why Digital Downloads Rule!”

  1. Im with you 100% on this. The only problem I have with it are the prices. Once they realize that theyll actually sell a truckload more if they lower the prices, or have sales from time to time, i wont complain about anything. Heck, i bought some eshop games that i didnt really want simply because they were on sale. Make me feel “smart” and ill buy anything. From now on, all my purchases are digital. Im even selling my game collection to make some big bucks… Because why keep something i havent played in 7 years? The odds of me ever wanting ti play it are slim, and if I do, instead of going to the hastle of plugging in old consoles and finding the game, i can simply rebuy the digital version at a discount price. In 5 years from now, 90% of all videogames ever will be available digitally.

    1. Yup exactly right. While I really love my old NES, SNES, etc. games the odds of me actually going back and plugging in those old systems now that they’re in storage is about as slim as me winning the lottery…which I never play lol. In other words, it isn’t going to happen. So I’d much rather buy the digital version on the eShop on either the 3DS or the Wii U and have easy access to those classics. Have to keep up with ALttP and Super Metroid after all. It’s tradition!

      As for the prices, I really hope the console makers adopt a Steam-like approach, where they have certain periods of the year where they hold insane sales. Steam often has $60 games for $5 or $10. Needless to say, sales increase a bajilion times when sales like that occur, and it also sparks renewed interest in older games. Bottom line, it’s just smart, and if the big three console makers follow suit, I can see them making way more money than they currently do.

  2. I picked up Fire Emblem: Awakening precisely because there were no physical copies available anywhere at any reasonable price ($79.99 or more on Amazon, early this month). And when it comes to classic games I do like having them all in one place for convenience.

    That said, I do think digital downloads are the future but I’d like for some companies (Nintendo) to get a decent account system.

  3. I go digital on certain things. Computer games mostly easier, faster and don’t need to wait at a store to then have to install it. Having it preinstalled before launch makes it more awesome. Example SC2 and WoW expansions.

    Just started downloading digital with my renew of Playstation plus. Being able to download Uncharted and Gravity rush for my vita and Spec ops the line for PS3. Although these are PS plus exclusive free games until you decide not to renew or get ride of PS+. This is a Win in my book compared to xbox live. ( I know I changed basis from digital downloads to memberships)

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