It’s hard to believe that the year 2017 is almost upon us. It’s even harder to believe that we are almost in the year 2017, and the video game industry is still dependent upon physical discs.
As the film, book, and music industries wave goodbye to physical media formats while running as fast as they can, the video game industry still relies on this fading technology. What gives?
Well, much like physical books, movies, and albums, there are some people that choose to own physical games because they simply prefer to use physical formats. More than just nostalgia, the argument for buying discs in this day and age is actually pretty practical when you consider that nobody is entirely sure how long a certain digital delivery service may be in business. Nobody wants to buy a $60 game from such a distributor and then not be able to access it years down the line.
Even if that particular barrier was eliminated, a much bigger one would still prevent everyone who is interested in abandoning discs from actually doing so.
The true villain in the tale of why discs reign supreme in the world of gaming is data caps and the overall poor quality of the average internet service. Downloading a game might be more convenient and often times cheaper than buying a disc, but as anyone who has ever tried to download 40 GB+ of data over a home internet connection knows, it’s not always quicker than running out to the store to just buy a game.
Add to this the sometimes limited storage space of consoles and even some PCs, and suddenly, those excuses for continuing to buy discs start to make a lot more sense.
Ultimately, however, they are still excuses. The fight against digital downloads becoming the default method of game delivery is a losing one. Sometime in the next 10 years, the only people who buy physical games will be collectors.
While it’s frustrating that many of the hurdles that prevent that from happening are outside of the control of game developers and gamers, the inevitability of the transition means that the video game industry needs to start forcing the issue sooner rather than later. Once IPs realize their services are no longer able to meet a basic entertainment need, they will be forced to adapt. Perhaps not as soon as everyone would like, but certainly sooner than they would if they’re left to their own devices.
Besides, it’s almost 2017. Who still buys discs?