Digital or Physical: Which Is Better?

The debate rages on in the world of gaming. Should you buy physical copies or digital copies of games? Let’s have a look at the pros and cons of each.

Physical Games

For years, buying physical games was the only way you could get games, especially on consoles. While digital games have been around on PC for much longer, it seems that people still prefer the older format. So why is that?

For one, you get something tangible such as a cartridge, disc, or cassette. This makes it feel so much more like you own something since you can still see it when your system is turned off, hold the physical object in your hands, or thumb through the instruction manual (for the games that still have one). This is also great for collectors as they can proudly display their collections for all to see.

Once you’re done with a physical game, there’s also the option to sell it on to somebody else or trade it in at a game shop.

For me, the art is a huge plus for physical game. There’s a lot of great cover art in the games industry and there’s no better way to show this off than on the front of a box rather than on a digital storefront. Remember how awesome the art on those huge old PC boxes used to look? They were unnecessarily big, but great nonetheless.

Digital Games

The main argument for digital games is convenience. With digital games and libraries, you can get your game from the comfort of your own home without waiting for a delivery or heading out to your local game shop.

Since you own access to the game, often on a limited number of platforms or devices, you don’t need to worry about losing it as long as the platform still exists and the developer doesn’t take the game down, like Konami did with PT.

If a digital platform ceases to exist, you run the risk of not being able to access titles you previously owned. However, you don’t need to take extra care of your digital games like you did with physical games.

If you delete the game, or need more space on your PC or console, you can usually download it again on the system whenever you want and your digital library will keep everything organised so you won’t have to spend hours alphabetising your whole collection!

Since we’re interested in indie games, we like the fact that digital distribution has allowed indie developers to get their games out there. Making and distributing games costs money and making physical copies is a cost that indie developers often can’t afford, especially without the help of a publisher. Digital distribution has helped so many indie devs get their game out there.

When you buy digital, you own little more than the game itself, there’s no extended product. You won’t get a box, instructions, or much else. It does make the product feel a little cheaper than its physical counterpart,

Which Is Better?

There’s a lot of personal preference at play here. While physical copies are nicer for the consumer, there’s a barrier to entry for small devs. Digital copies are easier to get your hands on as long as you have an internet connection but you mightn’t ever really own the game as there are often limitations such as only having the rights to play it on a certain number of devices.

If you want to just play the games themselves and support upcoming indie developers, you’re probably going to have to opt for digital copies of games. If you’re a collector, fan of art, or want more bang for your buck, then you’ll want to go for the physical copies. The only way to really ensure the industry does what you want is by voting with your money!

Which do you prefer? Tell us in the comments below or join the debate on Facebook or Twitter!

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