Discussion about
Musikon

Do you prefer the physical or digital versions of video games?

With the next generation of gaming consoles having officially arrived, many are trying to decide if they are going to stick to the physical versions of games or go all digital. There are the pros and cons to each, but I am firmly in the physical game camp when I can. I like the look of physical games on the shelf, I enjoy the box art for my games, and I know that I shouldn't rely on the console manufacturer to get my digital games back in some sort of crash or theft of my device. Looking at you Nintendo, there is still no easy way to redownload your games on a new console if you don't have the old one. Note I said easy, it's possible, but usually involves getting in contact with someone at customer service, and I don't want to deal with that additional hassle, especially if it's in the case of a theft. If something ever happens down the line, I can sell my games, for a tiny amount, but it's better than nothing. And I can loan my games to friends easily, and preserve the games as best as I can.

The exceptions I make to only getting physical is of course if it's not released as a physical game, but also with the Playstation Plus free games and their sales. Almost every month they have a game I've been wanting to play go free or really cheap on the PSN store. I've snagged many of these on my Vita, which seems to be the one gaming device that I mostly own digital games on.

So what do you think, do you prefer physical or digital versions of games? What are your reasons for sticking with either?

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15 replies
Musikon

Another point I thought of, usually a few months after a game releases, you can find it's physical version for much cheaper than the digital version. If it's a game I passed on during it's initial release, I try to wait for these sales.
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dave

At this point, digital! I'm tired of carting around physical CDs and DVDs, remembering where I put them, or having to load them in the tray in the first place. I think Steam does an amazing job with this sort of thing and I think the consoles could learn a thing or two from them.

Main issues these days are bandwidth and storage space, but I still prefer digital copies.
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kris

I'd generally prefer having things digital, except that I can't resell or give away when I no longer want it. Nintendo's backwards policy of tying games to the system and not the account also precludes me switching to digital-only on my 3DS for the time being.
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Met

For handheld devices, I would definitely say digital. It's very inconvenient to drag along all those cartridges with a 3DS. I like that my iPad has my many games just built into it and I don't need to have physically put an app in there to play it.

For PC, I love what Steam has to offer. I can buy my physical games, add them to my account and then also have a download option should I lose the game or damage the disk. I should note that I don't like games that require the disk to be in the computer while playing them.

For consoles, I like Microsoft's approach with the XB360 (and I'm assuming the XB1 will be very similar) with full games being physical, but arcade games being downloadable.
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frankspin

I can go either way. On one hand I don't miss having bundles of cds and discs, I used to love this when I was a teenager but now it just means more stuff to move around.

On the other hand, a physical copy makes it easier to resell the game if I hate it or finish it off fast enough.
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tbluhm7

funny thing, I just finished an essay about drm and digital vs physical media only few hours ago.
personally, i agree with you completely. I prefer the physical case on my shelf when I purchase a game. but I won't complain if I'm offered a free digital copy of a title
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rainbowskittle

Definitely digital. I have three kids that love to get into the boxes for my games. I have had countless games ruined because they have grabbed it and ruined it. It was also my fault for leaving it where their little hands could grab them. LOL But in all honesty its easier and it gives me more room for their stuff in the end. I still have a 360 that I don't want to give up at all because so far I'm not too impressed with the Xbox One. I really love the digital copies for my games. Not for movies though. I like having those around still.
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logicslayer

I would prefer something along the lines of what Microsoft had setup, sort of a hybrid between the two. I love being able to switch games without switching discs and the quick load time. It would be great as then I could sell my discs and my digital license would expire for that copy.

I have chosen this generation to go digital where I can. I think single player games I will go physical and multiplayer games, I will go digital. Though I have already messed that up as I got BF4 on disc and Knack digitally :P
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Ianny

I prefer physical whenever possible, as I tend to keep my games in working order and have has less glitches working off of a disc than I've seen working off of a hard drive or SD card.

I'm actually incredibly disappointed to discover than Ace Attorney: Dual Destinies is only available as a download in North America and not as a physical copy. Digital 3DS games being locked to one specific system bums me out a lot.
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Musikon

There are a few other games like that on the eShop on the 3DS, and while I would prefer a physical version, if a digital only release means it comes to the US, then I'm happy with that. I would rather be able to play the game, than not.
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cjtylr

I've been a pretty heavy user of Steam for some time now, so I've decided to go all-digital with this generation of consoles. All three of the XONE games I've purchased so far are digital.
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SM0R3S

I would prefer Digital games but I'm afraid they would get pulled off because of some spat between the seller and the publisher or because the game isn't selling well so they stop it. Turtles In Time on the 360 is a good example.
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TimSeppala

I'm totally fine spending $20 or less on a digital game, but when it gets up to $60 for a new release I have a hard time not missing a disc. Maybe it's because I lend my games out to friends quite often, or I'm just old fashioned but I don't know if I'll go digital for full-priced releases anytime soon.
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ducttapeburns

Unlike Nintendo, Sony is great about keeping track of what you've purchased in the past if you ever need to redownload a game.

Really, though, it comes down to personal preference. As you said, some really enjoy having a shelf lined with games while others take pleasure in the box art and other little details packaged along with the game disc. Also, selling, trading, or loaning digital games is still not a possibility with most digital vendors, so the game you buy will belong solely to you and others in your household that are granted access to the console. Also, if you ever tire of a game and wish to sell it you're out of luck, which goes hand-in-hand with the previous point.

On the other hand, not all of us are collectors. Not all of us want that physical clutter that goes with having a large game library. Additionally, many enjoy being able to get their games from the comfort of their living room and avoid shops such as Gamestop for their gaming needs (that is until your game console tries pestering you with unneeded warranties and other upselling techniques).

Both options have their ups and downs.
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jwhite878

You know, I've been a pretty big advocate of physical, but, as I'm going into college, I think I'm going to go digital, so I don't have to worry about losing/carrying around discs.
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