If I had to pick a few words to describe my gaming habit… one of them would definitely be “stubborn.” Stubborn about what, you may ask? Well, I am very resistant to change. I like things the way they were, and I don’t like having to adjust to different circumstance, especially when it comes to my passion. Gaming itself has gone from cartridges and discs into something a little less physical in the last decade. What does that mean for us as gamers? Probably nothing bad but it still irritates me so I’m gonna write my little article here!
It used to be when you wanted the latest game you headed on down to your local tabernacle and picked up 16oz of sweet electronic goodies. Nowadays this method of obtaining our guilty pleasure is becoming more and more obsolete; like a Sega Dreamcast. I know what your saying: “Why is that bad that we spend less time at GameStop? They give you less than a dollar for most trade ins and I can buy the games cheaper on Amazon anyway.” I’ll tell you why, my economically savvy reader, because of supply and demand. See, when I went to my first game store (EB Games), they had all sorts of cool shit related to electronics, like the now-dead Radio Shack. I would head there for one specific thing, and find at least five other things I would enjoy. But, if there is a decline of retail shopping, you won’t get to walk into a store a peruse their wares, so to speak. Working in retail I understand what this can do. When you only purchase that one item you want, the sales of other items drop. To compensate for that loss in profit, other items either rise in price or they cut out specific items altogether. And if they stop selling games, then those specific devlopers take a hit, and in the worse case can go out of business (RIP Pandemic). What if GameStop only sold the top 25 most popular games? Well I wouldn’t go there! I don’t need Call of Duty: Advanced Ops: Ghost Warfare: IV. Point being, it would limit the potential of smaller game developers who are unable to make heir games downloadable, ergo it would limit the variety available to us as gamers. And, as a personal problem, I like to collect. My room looks like a GameStop. If they stop selling physical discs, how can I make my collection look bigger?
There is a much better reason to walk into a store than simply owning a physical copy: people. I have met plenty of friendly people at my local game store. See, in a world where no one leaves there house, and everyone downloads their games off the internet/Xbox store/Playstation store, you don’t meet other avid gamers. Sure, most of these encounters don’t end with more than a “see you around,” but it’s nice to talk to someone in person who shares the same interests as you. It also opens you up to their suggestions: random GameStop customer told me this game was good, and it was! Even though it got 5/10 due to butt-hurt internet trolls spamming the review section. I’ve learned that, despite what the majority may think, many of my favorite games I never would have played if I didn’t physically talk to someone who recommended it. I mean, the game I sunk over 200 hours in, Dragon’s Dogma, was a recommendation by the guy at my work who manages the shipping and receiving department. Even though, when I had first read reviews about the game, they turned me away because they were so biased (it’s a Dark Souls ripoff, etc). Don’t get me wrong, you can meet plenty of nice people online (and even marry them!), but nothing truly replaces full-on frontal contact. Ok, that sounds weird when I say it out loud, but I wrote it so it’s here to stay!
So, I’ve talked about what I dislike about digital games, now let me talk about what I love them for:
Digital games will save you a lot of money. That is a fact. It costs next to nothing to reproduce data (or does it literally cost nothing?). And they are hella convenient. Sold out? NEVER! Because digital games are like the line at Anime Expo, endless. AND You don’t even have to leave the comfort of your own home. Look up at the searchbar, see the name of the website? Yeah, we don’t like leaving the comfort of our home. Even if you don’t necessarily computer game, or even really own a computer–with smartphones you can enjoy all the internet memes and youtube poops all you want–you have heard of the legendary Steam Sale. If you haven’t, it’s basically just a bunch of games Steam bought the rights too, that they then sell for dirt cheap–anywhere from 10% to 90% off! And it’s infamous because, like me, many people buy games they never will play just because it only costs a few dollars (a couple tens of times adds up though). Yeah, I own over a hundred Steam games. Too bad I’ve only played like ten of them. Nonetheless, for the normal people who are able to resist the allure of Sniper Elite Trilogy for $5, there are multitudes of options available. One of my favorite JRPGs, Valkyria Chronicles, was a PS3 game I never got to play, but now that it is on Steam, I bought it for less than ten bucks, and can enjoy all that pseudo-WW2 goodness.
Now, we all know about the dark side of digital gaming: piracy. I won’t lie, I may or may not know some people who may or may not have illegally downloaded some games to avoid paying; or in one specific case definitely not involving me, a game called ParaWorld, which later was released for sale by download on a UK website, whereas it had previous been unavailable to obtain other than by torrent because the physical copies only worked with Windows XP and earlier. Nonetheless, illegal downloading destroys the industry. On a similar note to an article Kausus wrote about streaming anime: it’s the same thing. By doing this we only serve to whittle away at the community which feeds us. Granted, I won’t say I don’t take advantage of certain loopholes, like how purchasing a game off the Xbox store gives you unlimited copies of it to share with your friends just by using a little ingenuity (hey if we’re all gonna play Dying Light, and my room mates are gonna get bored of it in a week, why pay for three copies?). However hypocritical it may sound, I don’t agree with piracy.
At the end of things, one word signifies me: preference. I like having a physical copy in my hands, even if it costs me more effort and money to obtain. I go ahead and buy the collector’s edition games, even if all the crap that comes with it sits in my closet forever. I bought Aliens: Colonial Marines collector’s edition! That was a glorified $150 paperweight. And definitely not appealing like my Medaka Box paperweights. On that note, if I watch an anime and like it, I’ll go ahead and buy the DVD/Blu-Ray copy. Why? Cause I might watch it again and I want the disc. Except for Sword Art Online because I will never have enough money to pay $100 for 7 episodes. That’s like, $800 for both seasons! Truthfully, I don’t think that the digital gaming era is going to wipe out consumer retail gaming, because there is such a large demographic of people that still use them regularly. Maybe it will 10-20 years from now, but at the moment they are in a happy medium, and I use both digital and physical games as I see fit. And who knows, maybe in 10 years Steam will go out of business, and the servers will be shut down. There goes my 1000+ game library. While we’re imagining the future: maybe I’ll be like my grandparents; 50 years from now I’ll be selling my GameCube games for a few bucks and my grandkids will be all like: “Dangit Gramps! Custom Robo sells for 100 billion Canadian Dollars! You hoser!” (cause Canada got tired of the shitty cold and conquered all of North America).
So there ya have it. Tell me, do you prefer digital gaming or do you need that disc to justify your own existence (like me)? Better yet, gimme a reason as to why one is better than the other; or why neither is better because they are different things and you just want to play the games.