Hard drives used to be expensive and hard to come by, which if you have an older generation of Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3 and haven’t replaced your console’s hard drive, you can attest to that as you probably have a smaller drive than you find yourself needing now. When this current generation of consoles launched, we were still very much living in a world where a packaged game bought at a retail outlet was the only real way to purchase a game. Sure, you could download demos via the internet and maybe some smaller indie games could be downloaded, but the idea of buying your games online was a strange one, to say the least.
Yet here we are years later and every major platform sells full games via their respective stores and find more and more consumers purchasing games through that means as opposed to going to an actual retail outlet or ordering it off of an online retailer. Sony has been making a major push with the PlayStation Network Store with their “Day One Digital” initiative and the Xbox Live Marketplace is featuring more and more new games as they are released. Through stuff like sales and offering content without a hassle and in some cases even allowing you to pre-order and get pre-order content the need to get into your car and drive to a brick-and-mortar retailer has all-but diminished.
PC gamers know this all-too-well as the Steam platform has been one of the best ways to purchase games for a while now and they are always adjusting and adding to the Steam platform to make purchasing games and content more and more attractive online. In a way, the gaming industry is starting to catch up to the music and movie industries. Since the iTunes Store launched a few years ago, buying music online has become more of a standard and there are more and more places for you to buy or stream music for a lower cost than going to a store and purchasing the actual physical CD. In some cases, you can even get a lossless file so you won’t be sacrificing quality, if you are interested in that.
For movies there are content delivery systems like Netflix and Amazon video that deliver high quality streaming content to whichever device you choose and while the quality might not be as crystal-clear as Blu-Ray, it is still quite good-looking and if you aren’t bothered by that, digital seems like the way to go.
For games there is no loss in quality by downloading them. You won’t be sacrificing visual or audio integrity, and most stores allow you to re-download content that you may have deleted to free up hard drive space, so you won’t “lose” your game if you delete it. So I guess the question is, do you really need that package to store on your shelf? I can understand if you do, or if you do not have a decent enough internet connection to allow for you to download gigs and gigs of games, but for the rest of us, why the hell not?