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Forums - Gaming Discussion - Arstechnica: Physical console games are quickly becoming a relatively niche market

https://arstechnica.com/gaming/2022/02/fewer-and-fewer-console-games-are-seeing-a-physical-release/

I thought this was a really interesting article and wants to get everyone’s thoughts. A lot of this confirmed what I already knew: the physical games ecosystem seems healthiest on Nintendo Switch, with PlayStation and Xbox heading in the same direction, and Xbox being the most “digital” platform of the big 3. 

I think I am OK with physical becoming a relative niche way of buying games, so long as the option is always there. I buy blu ray movies occasionally, and I buy physical games occasionally, and I hope that option is always there. 



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The more the industry pushes towards digital, the more I'm going to invest in physical. I fear the day the market is digital only and companies have absolutely full control of their releases.



You know it deserves the GOTY.

Come join The 2018 Obscure Game Monthly Review Thread.

The good measure, of a dedicated console, was total sales (units) physical x total sales (digital). 

Digital is a trend because the consumer does not own the games, it´s beautiful for the big company because of rise in profits, and for the small companies because allowing more games to launch without the cost of distribution, factoring, and logistics. 

But the death of the used market it´s a question to evaluate too. 



Really? Read yesterday that PS5 physical still exceeds digital sales.



Random_Matt said:

Really? Read yesterday that PS5 physical still exceeds digital sales.

I remember reading an article that suggested PlayStation 5 owners were more likely to opt for physical but PlayStation as a platform (PS4 and 5 combined) is now majority digital. And that makes sense to me, early adopters tend to be enthusiasts. 

As the article above points out though, it’s pretty much only the expensive AAA high volume games that are getting physical releases anymore. AA, A, and indies have basically abandoned physical media because the distribution costs are too high



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Unless the game is only available digitally, I still will stick with physical, but only purely because physical copies of games are often a lot cheaper; this is especially evident in the UK as one online retailer for the past year has been very frequently selling Nintendo Switch games for a rather significant 30% less (with a code) than standard retail price right from launch. It was noticeable from last year with Super Mario 3D World + Bowser's Fury which launched at £35 after a code is applied, way less than the usual £50, and has become a benchmark ever since and still is today with Pokemon Legends: Arceus.

I totally understand the convenience of an all digital library, but I still take the discount and go physical each time; plus, if it's not a game I thought I would enjoy or I feel I want to move on, I can sell it and put it towards something else.



AHYL88 said:

Unless the game is only available digitally, I still will stick with physical, but only purely because physical copies of games are often a lot cheaper; this is especially evident in the UK as one online retailer for the past year has been very frequently selling Nintendo Switch games for a rather significant 30% less (with a code) than standard retail price right from launch. It was noticeable from last year with Super Mario 3D World + Bowser's Fury which launched at £35 after a code is applied, way less than the usual £50, and has become a benchmark ever since and still is today with Pokemon Legends: Arceus.

I totally understand the convenience of an all digital library, but I still take the discount and go physical each time; plus, if it's not a game I thought I would enjoy or I feel I want to move on, I can sell it and put it towards something else.

I’ve been told by a number of Europeans that live north inside and outside the EU that physical games are frequently substantially cheaper, so this doesn’t surprise me. I’ve also been told from some people I know that live in Eastern Europe that even some PC games get limited run physical releases in those countries for a variety of reasons (poor internet infrastructure, regional pricing, customer expectations, etc) 



Digital makes sense on so many levels, but the greatest factor for me is ease of use. I love Rocket League, but only in small doses of 2-5 games. So it’s easy just to go from my main game, to Rocket League, to another small game, then back to the main title I’m playing.

There’s also the environmental factor. No plastic case, no production elements, no shipping.

Now it would be nice if digital owners got a small discount in addition to zero tax, but price isn’t a factor either way. If either the digital or physical title were priced differently it wouldn’t affect my buying habits.

I do think that it is good that the physical editions exist for collectors, purists, and archivers, but for this generation I’ve opted to follow the digital trend and I just can’t see myself going back. Unless they come up with some sort of disk changer or cart changer that holds 10-15 games at a time that I can switch on the fly.



super_etecoon said:

Digital makes sense on so many levels, but the greatest factor for me is ease of use. I love Rocket League, but only in small doses of 2-5 games. So it’s easy just to go from my main game, to Rocket League, to another small game, then back to the main title I’m playing.

There’s also the environmental factor. No plastic case, no production elements, no shipping.

Now it would be nice if digital owners got a small discount in addition to zero tax, but price isn’t a factor either way. If either the digital or physical title were priced differently it wouldn’t affect my buying habits.

I do think that it is good that the physical editions exist for collectors, purists, and archivers, but for this generation I’ve opted to follow the digital trend and I just can’t see myself going back. Unless they come up with some sort of disk changer or cart changer that holds 10-15 games at a time that I can switch on the fly.

Digital really become my primary means of games purchasing as soon as soon as full games installs became required to play any of the games. On PC this meant as soon as my internet was good enough I was mostly digital, on console this meant that the Xbox 360 was the last device in which most of the games I bought for it were physical. On the way home from school I could just pop over to GameStop, buy a game, get home and put it in the console, and play immediately. With full game installs becoming mandatory, physical just became digital with an extra step. 

I still buy physical when there is a good deal, but from a purely technological standpoint physical games distribution seems fully obsolete 



Any game I plan on actually buying I always buy physical. While I do have GP on Xbox, I use it as a "try before you buy" sort of thing for titles I wasn't too keen on buying. For example, even though Halo Infinite (being a first-party title) is on GP, I still bought a physical copy day one as it was a must-own title for me. If I stop subscribing to GP, I can still play the game.

If I've said it once I've said it a hundred times, but if the industry ever abandons physical games and forces digital-only, then they will no longer get any money from me.

Last edited by Shadow1980 - on 20 February 2022

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