The other day I was looking up patches for a certain game, Vampire the Masquerade: Bloodlines to be specific, and I came across a forum post about how the poster paid $100 for his physical copy of Bloodlines, instead of paying $20 for a downloaded copy. The poster then continued to state he didn’t pay for the downloaded copy because “it didn’t seem like the real thing.” This is not the first time I have heard that argument, but my mind was still blown with the fact that someone would pay an extra $80 just to have a physical copy of a game. See, I have never had a problem simply paying and downloading for a copy of a game. In fact, I just recently purchased Patapon 2 for the PSP, which is only available as a download in the U.S.
It is no secret that the future of gaming is direct downloads. Steam has absolutely blown up in recent years, Microsoft has been pushing for a console that is essentially only a hard drive and no disc drive whatsoever, and Sony’s next version of the PSP, the PSP Go!, is heavily rumored to have no UMD slot at all. The ease of just downloading a game whenever you want is much better than driving to a brick-and-mortar store and hoping there is a copy for one to buy. However, is this a good step for the gaming industry?
The moral battle over buying a used game has been raging since buying used became a viable option. Most gamers have no problem buying a game used, especially if it means saving some money in this turbulent economy, and some would rather give publishers and developers as much money as possible. Moving the entire game industry to a direct download system would not run these stores out of business, but change their business model drastically and most likely force stores to close down.
So, my dearest readers, I have two questions for you. Do you prefer physical copies of the game or are you fine with direct downloads? Is the Steam model of simply downloading games to a hard drive a good step for the future of this industry, or would you rather keep the option of holding a physical disc in your hands? The choice is yours…