Call me a traditionalist, but I yearn for the old days of hard-copy games, where it was much more than a just 77 gig download when I got it home.
A big part of game-playing is having a collector’s mentality, a completionist’s drive. It’s why so many games have hidden secrets, Easter Eggs and collectables hidden below the surface. Game designers know that a large portion of players enjoy the hunt for items and collecting all of them to 100% their creation.
That’s why a lot of people, myself included, still buy hard-copies of games. I like seeing them on my shelf and thinking, “I own that game.” When I’m looking for a game to play, I can look at the physical games on a shelf, like selecting a book, and decide. I don’t get a lot of games digitally for consoles because the lists on a screen can become overwhelming. This is likely the reason I haven’t played or completed, at minimum, 50% of the games on my Steam list.
But the joy of buying a hard-copy of a game was accompanied by the fact that inside the case was not only the game, but a booklet that contained some lore, some information, maybe a map. There was a purpose to buying the hard-copy because, a) it was the only way to get the game, but b) you would also get something else that made that worthwhile.
Now, unless you purchase special Day One or Collector’s editions, all you get is the game disc inside a wasteful plastic box.
The kicker, however, isn’t even the lack of extras inside the case. What’s really starting to look pointless is the fact that when you get home and throw the disc into your console, you have to either install or download the game you just bought the disc for.
Also on The Big Smoke
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- Microtransactions costing gamers more than just their paychecks
Now, overall, I don’t mind if the game wants me to install it on my console. Computers need to do it, too, and to run a game off a disc without installing it requires the game to be pretty small in size. What bothers me is having to download an entire game, which is often several gigabytes, more often than not in the double-digits.
Why do this? Why sell me a pointless disc that essentially just a way of delivering a download code? Just sell me one of those little cardboard cards with the game title and a code and save the plastic. If you have a game that’s too big to fit on one disc, either sell it on multiple discs so that you can install it manually, or don’t sell the disc at all. The disc, and thus the hard-copy of the game, become completely pointless.
The problem with digital games on a console can be that you forget what you have, or that you get overwhelmed looking at the list and can’t decide on what to play, but it also comes from the often slower download speeds your console experiences compared to a PC. This, I’ve found, is especially true for Xbox One compared to PS4.
Even from a cost perspective, it doesn’t make sense to continue to pump out plastic boxes and discs if all you’re really doing is selling me a giant download code container. Just print millions of little download cards and be done with it. Other games do it all the time.
Just stop, game companies. And if you insist on continuing the tradition of selling hard-copy games, then start making the box worthwhile again. Gimme a nice printed map. Gimme a booklet with a short story set in the world. Gimme a copy of the soundtrack. Something that makes that plastic box worthwhile.