The Physical Disc or a Digital Copy.

Recently–as in last year, I conducted a poll on my twitter account about which people prefer; the physical disc or a digital copy of a game. While this is by no means, a professional statistic, I did find it interesting that the poll tied.   There are many pros and cons to both choices and I wanted to share some things I found with each.

 

 

The purchase of digital versions of games is the uncontested star of sales. The immediate simplicity in pay, download, and play of a newly released game is difficult to dispute. Digital copies of games are often free on consoles, steam and Origin, thus making it very easy to have access to a game right away.   In example; Xbox One and PS4 are giving away free games once a month. All of the replies from my poll were pro digital copies:

 

Pro Digital Copies.

 

 

Pros For Physical Discs

 

With all of this in mind, physical discs can be resold to a store or online to get some of your money back.   Additionally, the game is yours;, no worries if your console is damaged beyond recovery, or you get hacked, and you can lend out your game. Why? Because you have the physical disc. Yes, today’s gaming consoles do not read a game from the disc anymore and with the physical disc, you still have to download the game to install it. The genitive with that is you must also have the disc in your console to play it. To some, this might be a strange inconvenience to get up and switch discs. Meanwhile with a digital game there are no worries about that, you simply select the game you wish to play and play it.   It is no question in this regard that the digital copy is superior.

 

Although, the numbers are showing digital copies are doing much better than their physical counterparts, I’m not sure they will ever truly go away. Many players like to hold on the actual ownership of a game; however the downside to physical discs is they take up space. A few of my military friends know the pain of having to move stuff around constantly and removing even a few things like game discs helps to save on moving stuff around the world.

 

Cons to Physical Discs

 

 

Either way, I think this debate comes down to personal preference. Both sources of media hold different pros and cons but ultimately it is up to the consumer. Some find it best to get the physical disc while other find it easier to manage a digital copy. Let me know what you think. Do you prefer to purchase the physical disc or the digital copy?

25 Comments Add yours

  1. James Dixon says:

    I was definitely more in the ‘physical’ camp, but then I got burgled, and I lost a big old chunk of discs along with my consoles, and that changed the equation for me. The games I had bought digitally (or got from PS+/GwG) were just waiting to be re-downloaded when I replaced the consoles, and honestly, that pretty much stopped me from having a nervous breakdown.

    That said though, my ISP is rubbish, and frequently rocks dial-up type speeds (regardless of what I’m actually paying for), so that effectively takes that option off the table for the really big downloads – and when I say “big”, basically anything over 6gb is going to take many, many hours, if not days. Plus, I’m still a bit wary of dealing with any kind of “customer service” stuff if something goes wrong with a download – and suspect it’ll be more of a pain in the ass than just taking a physical copy back and swapping it for another one if there are any issues!?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dina Farmer says:

      Yes, there are so many pros and cons to the physical discs and the digital downloads. I haven’t had any trouble yet with downloads yet, but I have had a lot of trouble with installing discs COD to be exact.

      I am not entirely sure the physical disc is going to go away but this isn’t stopping the rise in downloads. I am sure developers and publishers save money by not making discs.

      I can certainly understand being worried about customer service with complications of downloads. As I said so far I haven’t had a problem, but I hope that they are able to help if there is a problem.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Hatm0nster says:

    I’m more in the physical disc camp. I appreciate digital for PC games, but 95% of my games are still physical purchases. Having physical ownership is a part of it, sure, but I also don’t want to have to depend on servers (or even my own hard drive) in order to play. I also doesn’t help that a lot of games (especially with digital purchases) want an active internet connection in order to play them. Not great when you have internet outages or even just a slow connection.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Dina Farmer says:

      Oh yes Hatm0nster! I forgot about mentioning internet outages! That is very true! Some digital games and even physical discs are very dependent on an internet connection to work.

      I like the ownership of a physical game. I always worry about potentially losing my game and what if the console suddenly decides to stop hosting the game you know? I mean there are so many factors that go into both. But I tend to still stick with the disc.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hatm0nster says:

        As you said though, the disc isn’t very important anymore. Just take games like Destiny or The Division for example. As soon as Activision or Ubisoft decide to stop hosting servers for these games, that’s it. Nobody will be able to play them, disc or no disc.

        So I suppose I brought up a moot point in the last comment. I suppose it was said out a wish that having the disc would mean I’d still have the game somewhere down the line, but that’s not really the case.

        Here’s another question for you though: how do feel about games as a service (like Destiny or any MMO) vs games as an individual product (stuff that lives entirely on a disc or hard drive)?

        Like

      2. Dina Farmer says:

        I personally do not like MMO games. I like to play on my own and I think far too many games are shifting towards MMO status. I know a lot of people are very busy and playing an MMO is less demanding than dedicating time to a individual game. However, I don’t play games to enjoy with others unless the game is actually a couch co-op such as PvsZ where there is a progression in the story line. I enjoy games that have storylines as opposed to unending game play.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Hatm0nster says:

        Agreed there. I don’t see MMO’s as fun because there’s no conclusion. If there’s no conclusion, there’s no purpose or satisfying difficulty arc to follow. Instead, it’s just about figuring out what the route of maximum efficiency is.

        What about games as a service though? Games that require a constant connection (Sims 4, Diablo3) to be played or this episodic thing Square is doing with Hitman?

        It’s a distressing trend that makes sense from a business standpoint, but sounds terrible as a player (to me anyway.)

        Like

      4. Dina Farmer says:

        I am not a fan of any game that I have to give a lot of time to. I’m a mother and it is very difficult for me to be concerned about a virtual game when I’m concerned about a tiny human. I don’t have a lot of time to devote to those kinds of games either. Pretty much if I can’t save the game and hold my spot I am not going to play it.
        I am 100% not into the episodic game play either. I won’t get behind that either. I saw a post about the new Hitman game and how Square is trying to do that. They are doing the same with Final Fantasy 7. I won’t even buy a Telltale game unless the entire season is avaiable for purchase. For example I didn’t play back to the future because I wasn’t willing to pay for individual episodes. In the grand scheme of things it would be a lot more money you know? I would rather have my game in one nice package rather than episodes and nickel and diming every bit of DLC.

        Liked by 1 person

      5. Hatm0nster says:

        Agreed there. It’s a model that’s disrespectful of the buyer’s time and money. Hopefully it’s a trend that won’t catch on.

        Liked by 1 person

      6. Dina Farmer says:

        I really, really hope not….

        Liked by 1 person

  3. mherrera697 says:

    I enjoy just having the physical copy of the game simply because that’s what I grew up knowing. Having the ability to own the game once I bought it and then having the ability of selling it to someone once I was done or letting someone borrow it so they could enjoy it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dina Farmer says:

      So true! I think it is difficult to share games with digital. Although I understand I think on PS4 you can but only certain games. It is certainly more comfortable with the physical copy.

      Like

  4. Particlebit says:

    Why not allow physical purchases to activate the digital versions as well? That way if there is loss or damage, you can have the backup.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. James Dixon says:

      That’s what I’ve been saying for a while now. And not just about games – CDs and books should do it too. I mean, C’mon guys, we have the technology…. 😉

      Liked by 2 people

    2. Dina Farmer says:

      They kind of do that with movies now don’t they? I’m sure….it has a lot to do with money.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I LOVE not having to store physical disks anymore, that was such a hassle when I was a kid. Digital downloads for me!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dina Farmer says:

      I think the benefits to digital downloads are limitless. However, my concern is on console what is something happens during the download you know? Not that I haven’t purchase digital games cause we have a few on the console. Additionally, as I said on FB I like how digital games only take of virtual space and not real space.

      Like

  6. Red Metal says:

    I found I prefer digital copies for PC games and physical copies for console games. With the PC, I like being able to click on an icon in order to start a game without having to deal with opening the CD tray and inserting the disc every time. Meanwhile, with console games, I like physical copies in order to save (the usually limited) space on the console’s hard drive.

    Like

    1. duckofindeed says:

      That’s a problem I’ve noticed recently, the limited hard drive space on consoles. My Wii U has the largest available hard drive, but it’s already in danger of filling up, and I’ve barely saved anything on it. That makes buying physical discs far more practical for consoles. It doesn’t matter as much on computers. They typically have larger hard drives than consoles, plus backing up data on them is easier. At least, it’s a task I’m far more familiar with. I’m just not used to managing my video game consoles the same way I do my computer.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Dina Farmer says:

        Yeah, that’s the thing that sucks with new consoles though. Even though you have the physical disc the game does not actually run off of the disc. You are still faced with uploading the game on your console. Even though you have done this you still need the disc to run the game. It slowly eats up space on your console with this. I have found this both on the Xbone and PS4.

        Like

  7. The Nifty Nerd says:

    When it comes to games, it doesn’t really matter one way or the other for me. If I had to pick a side, I’d probably go digital -less to store. Now when it comes to books though, I’m wholly on the physical side. I love holding a the real thing -not a tablet Kindle or Nook.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dina Farmer says:

      Oh that is really interesting! I’m more leaning on the kindle because I don’t like to travel with a library in bag. Haha! But I completely understand what you are saying!

      Like

  8. Hey Dina!

    I would just say that I have bought two games digitally because of the price and being on a budget. Sometimes the cost of a physical disk can be pretty expensive. Although the same could be said for a digital copy of a game depending.

    Like

    1. duckofindeed says:

      I always prefer physical copies of games just because it feels more like I own it. Of course, I make an exception when it comes to retro games, when it’s cheaper to download it for $10 as opposed to spending $80 for the cartridge or what have you. The only problem with downloading games is when the console’s hard drive is too small, and you potentially need an external hard drive to make room for them. That’s mainly an issue with my naughty Wii U, though. I still haven’t been able to bring myself to download Child of Light, because I don’t want to use precious hard drive space.

      Like

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