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.
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.
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.
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?