The gaming community has always been a very select group, littered with all sorts of extra/hidden content, both physical and digital. As times have change, developers have come closer and closer to what has been dubbed the ‘Digital Frontier’, an idea that video games will eventually leave the physical format and journey into the pure digital market (direct download games). Now as flawed as this idea has been, with download rates that would take days to fully download a full game and the pure loss of the physical format that most gamers treasure so much, the idea is still as potent as ever.
Imagine, if you will, Assassin’s Creed 3 gets released but there is only a digital copy available, you go to download it, hoping that within a matter of minutes you’ll have the new assassin Connor under your control and be slaying redcoats left and right. You glance up at the screen and see that it is only 1% downloaded and it has been 10 minutes already. Is it really worth it?
I’ll admit, the idea of buying a game and not having to leave the house is an exciting prospect as I have a lot of work to do at home and don’t like to leave that often. Ok so maybe I’m just lazy and don’t like leaving the house that much but then again, isn’t that the market developers are focusing on with an idea such as this?
When I was first brought into the fold of gaming, at the young age of 4, my parents had bought me a used NES, and soon after a Sega Genesis. The idea, just the thought of buying a game was so exciting I couldn’t control myself, and when I finally held the games in my hand, I was in heaven and the same feeling occurs today, just yesterday I purchased 5 games from my local Movie Trading Co. and I was the happiest boy in the world! It is that same feeling a majority of gamers I know get when they purchase their physical games. In fact one of my closest friends still has a collection of over 300 games, dating back to NES and even holds onto the old packaging, his interest is gaming and collecting but the idea of digital content is lost on him for collector purposes and as a gamer, speaking for him on this, he feels disappointed that he doesn’t get to hold the game, see the game, or even feel as if he has purchased it when he buys digital content on his PC.
I don’t blame him for this feeling, the idea behind the physical aspects maybe where we began and people want to move past that for convince sake, but there are so many downsides to become all digital. You have huge video game markets that will become decreasing defunct till the day that gamers have bought up the older titles for the older generation consoles. That would be the stores, such as Movie Trading Co. I mentioned earlier, as they thrive off the buying and selling of used games, and if that market was downsized then that consumer market system would crash. That doesn’t even speak for the collectors!
The collectors, out of experience with my friend and myself, yes I am a collector, if we are limited in the physical content we can get, the less rare something will feel, the less rare the less incentive there would be to buy it right then and there. Think about it, if something is made into digital content, one original source creating multiple copies on the consoles, then we would worry not about the limited stock of games so we’d feel more compelled to buy up the older games we have on our list and even then, the only incentive to buy the digital games would be only if the gameplay and trailers excited us enough, which is a normal incentive for physical games as well, but how would we be able to tell the popularity if the limitation of stock doesn’t exist?
It wont feel rare, and without that, a collector can only think as a gamer.
I understand, most of the gaming community is just that, gamers, but Collectors are not the only ones affected. As gamers, you expect great graphics, great story, connecting characters, and amazing gameplay, that is the essential formula for a great game. It takes up an amazing amount of time to download such a great game, if you have a limited internet connection, or if someone else is already online on something else pulling down the bandwidth, or if your Xbox/PS3 is full and the download sizes are bound to increase in the coming years as the technology improves. You’d have to shell out more of your cash on a bigger hard drive instead of a new game.
It also limits the field on pre-order bonuses and extra content, while it save the developers from the whole scandal of ‘DLC on Disk Day One but Paying to Play’ but what more is there you can do besides just DLC? New maps, a unique gun, a cool power, sure these things are all great things, but what about the replica maps of in-game lands, the statuettes, the posters on pre-order?
It will be gone, the chance to get them would be in a random purchase off the developer’s website and nothing more. Then again, the entire concept of pre-ordering would disappear entirely as there would be no reason to do such, referring back to my previous argument of ‘infinite stock’.
The big picture is this gamer guys and gals, we will lose some of our culture by doing such a move, not only that it also creates a no win scenario for the big market, and small market, stores selling games, as one day the stock they had would be only for those collectors or retro gamers, while the new content would all be digital. Sales would plummet, stores would be forced to close, we’d lose a safe haven for gaming and then where would or lifestyle be?
I maybe over thinking things a bit, but I feel that switching to digital is a venture I want no part in. I am part of a market that will always exist, and yet we could become a dying breed someday. What are your thoughts on the ‘Digital Frontier’?
Leave comments below and keep your eyes on the future of gaming, as I know I will.