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Forums - Sales Discussion - The Digital Future

Fight-the-Streets said:
WoodenPints said:

As you said I don't even consider digital viable day one for games when I can get the physical copy £10-15 and a large amount of times the physical copy includes posters, Steelbooks, keyrings or other little touches that add some value not to mention it still hold value if I want to sell it on down the line.

It baffles me how publishers haven't made digital cheaper because if they offer me a £30 digital vs £40 physical I would highly consider it and the publisher would still make the same amount of profit removing retailer/distribution costs and remove used copies something they have been wanting for decades. Steam has also gone to shit this generation for AAA games with it now been the most expensive platform if I wanted to buy a game at launch compared to the start of this generation it was the cheapest which is another consequence of digital been the only choice.

It's because of contracts with retailers. During launch time it's not allowed for the platform holders/publishers to sell the digital version cheaper than the retail version. The reason behind these contracts is because of consoles. The retailers sell the console but as most money (for each party) is made by selling software the retailer wants to make sure that the platform holder/publisher has no advantage in this game for money. If the platform holders/publishers would refuse to make such contracts, many retailers simply would refuse to sell consoles. (Of course, I can't speak for Brazil but to be honest Brazil is irrelevant for representing any kind of standards in the gaming industry).

Besides owning my games, being able to buy and sell used games, being not dependent on digital market operators, being not dependent on internet slow-downs/problems, not being forced to buy huge hard disks and/or avoiding the annoyance of huge downloads/re-downloads (to save space on the hard disks with downloading-deleting and re-downloading) my main reason to stay physical is actually the following: I'm a whole-blood gamer, I'm proud of my hobby and like for any hobby you like to show what you have (to yourself and others). Well, without a physical collection there's actually little to show besides some merchandise but the physical games themselves with their boxes and covers are the bred and butter of the show, like they are for music and movie fans (one of the reason why even some music still comes out on CD - it's because hardcore fans want them as collectibles). Some gamers will not only play games, they are collectors. It's deep in human nature to collect things, all kinds of things. A certain percentage of gamers will always want to collect physical games and the percentage will be just high enough that it will remain lucrative to still make (more expensive) consoles that "eat" physical media and producing physical games. Don't forget, human beings are physical, we want to see, touch and feel and for many there's still a kind of (childlike) joy if we touch a physical game, open the box, take the disc/card out, put it into the console and start the console. Don't underestimate the little joys of everyday life!

And for the excuse that needing to install mean you don't own the disc it is very strange. Because first it is fast enough to instal the disk, you can unistall when you finish and reinstall if needed very fast without losing your saves it is also very easy to loan to friends without the hassles of changing your account all the time. Also in the minimum it is option.



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I think in terms of pricing, there's advantages and disadvantages to both.

Imo in General, Physical should be cheaper than digital to a certain extent. The reason is shelf space and inventory. Because Physical takes up shelf space, the goal is to get rid of it before the next batch arrives. It's one of the main reasons you even see e3 pre-order sales from the likes of Walmart, Amazon, Best Buy and etc where you can pre-order physical games with 20% discounts, sometimes even more before the game is even out and then have pretty significant discounts as the weeks go by after launch. There are some exceptions but I'd say most third party AAA games follow this route.

Digital on the other hand generally has a higher price because it's just sitting on a server. Sometimes you go to the store and buy a new game after 2 months, costs $20 but you look up the same game on steam, full price unless it goes on sale. With that being said, pricing wise, Digital has it's own advantages such as the potential of getting games for free. On PC, you can get games for free on Steam, EGS, Humble Bundle, etc as well as part of bundles. You can also get it as part of services like Gamepass, PS+ and Origin Access where you can pay like $5-$15 a month and get 100s of games. That also includes new games and ultimate editions that can costs $100s of dollars. Sure there are rental services for Physical but not 100s of games for that cheap.

So I don't think it's as clear cut as Physical is Cheaper or Digital is Cheaper. I think it mainly depends on what you are looking for and how long you are willing to wait.



             

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Your results may vary depending on where you live, but, in the U.S. at least, digital is a raw deal, especially when it comes to console games. I've written at length about this on many occasions here and elsewhere. Here's my main bullet points:

  • Under current U.S. law, physical copies are treated as the purchaser's property. They are sold, not licensed. I own those disks & cartridges on my shelves. But you cannot own digital copies. They are treated as "licensed, not sold." And those licenses can be revoked at any time for any reason or no reason at all. There is already precedent for digital copies of certain titles and even entire libraries of digital content being remotely nuked by the company owning the digital store said copies were purchased from. That absolutely cannot happen with physical.
  • As they are treated as the purchaser's property, physical copies are subject to the the First-sale Doctrine. The owner of the copy can sell, lend, trade, or gift their copy at their own discretion without the permission of the copyright holder. Digital, however, is not subject to the first-sale rule. Your ability to sell, lend, trade, or gift digital copies is dependent on the sole discretion of the copyright holder, because it is their property to dispose of, not yours.
  • The first-sale rule creates a second-hand market. Even out-of-print titles can be found second-hand. While prices for used games can vary depending on age and supply, most notable games are still available for purchase long after they've stopped being available through official channels. Meanwhile, digital titles than have been delisted are completely unavailable for purchase, as no second-hand copies readily exist (you may be able to find someone willing to part with an entire system or hard drive, but that's rare, expensive, and impractical). There are many digital-only games that have been delisted, and if you didn't get it while the getting was good, you ain't getting it. The effective nonexistence of second-hand market for digital copies is especially troublesome if you somehow lose a digital copy and the storefront that it was sold from no longer exists or the title is otherwise unable to be re-downloaded (I ran into this issue myself, and it contributed to my swearing off of paying for digital copies).
  • Physical is generally cheaper. If you're willing to wait a few months, most notable games (except first-party Nintendo games) can generally be found for $45 or less (and that continues to go down over time), while they tend to remain at $60 on digital storefronts for a considerably longer time aside from the occasional sale. Because they are closed platforms, digital storefronts on consoles have no competition aside from the physical market and therefore no real incentive to reduce prices.


There's a reason why I have hardly spent a dime on digital downloads in the past decade. Aside from a handful of Virtual Console releases on Wii U or 3DS, the only thing I bought digitally after 2010 was Blaster Master Zero on the Switch, and every other digital copy I have I got for free as part of some promotion. If I'm going to spend money on games, I want to have something I can hold in my hand and say "this is mine." To me, the claimed benefits of digital on consoles do not even come close to matching the benefits of physical, much less outweighing them.

Last edited by Shadow1980 - on 21 August 2020

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Shadow1980 said:

Your results may vary depending on where you live, but, in the U.S. at least, digital is a raw deal, especially when it comes to console games. I've written at length about this on many occasions here and elsewhere. Here's my main bullet points:

  • Under current U.S. law, physical copies are treated as the purchaser's property. They are sold, not licensed. I own those disks & cartridges on my shelves. But you cannot own digital copies. They are treated as "licensed, not sold."
  • As they are treated as the purchaser's property, physical copies are subject to the the First-sale Doctrine. The owner of the copy can sell, lend, trade, or gift their copy at their own discretion without the permission of the copyright holder. Digital, however, is not subject to the first-sale rule. Your ability to sell, lend, trade, or gift digital copies is dependent on the sole discretion of the copyright holder, because it is their property to dispose of, not yours.
  • The first-sale rule creates a second-hand market. Even out-of-print titles can be found second-hand. While prices for used games can vary depending on age and supply, most notable games are still available for purchase long after they've stopped being available through official channels. Meanwhile, digital titles than have been delisted are completely unavailable for purchase, as no second-hand copies readily exist (you may be able to find someone willing to part with an entire system or hard drive, but that's rare, expensive, and impractical). There are many digital-only games that have been delisted, and if you didn't get it while the getting was good, you ain't getting it. The effective nonexistence of second-hand market for digital copies is especially troublesome if you somehow lose a digital copy and the storefront that it was sold from no longer exists or the title is otherwise unable to be re-downloaded (I ran into this issue myself, and it contributed to my swearing off of paying for digital copies).
  • Physical is generally cheaper. If you're willing to wait a few months, most notable games (except first-party Nintendo games) can generally be found for $45 or less (and that continues to go down over time), while they tend to remain at $60 on digital storefronts for a considerably longer time aside from the occasional sale. Because they are closed platforms, digital storefronts on consoles have no competition and therefore no incentive to reduce prices.


There's a reason why I have hardly spent a dime on digital downloads in the past decade. Aside from a handful of Virtual Console releases on Wii U or 3DS, the only thing I bought digitally after 2010 was Blaster Master Zero on the Switch, and every other digital copy I have I got for free as part of some promotion. If I'm going to spend money on games, I want to have something I can hold in my hand and say "this is mine." To me, the claimed benefits of digital on consoles do not even come close to matching the benefits of physical, much less outweighing them.

Well said! I would like to ad that from a macroeconomic point of view it is certainly better if physical games remain and remain competitive to digital. They create jobs! (even tough, most people just order via Amazon...)



Already been mentioned by @Ka-pi96 but here in the UK, big AAA games usually launch anywhere in the £40-50 range day one for a physical copy, whereas digitally they're £60+, lowest I've seen a digital game day one was £50 when the physical copy was £40, and the most expensive I've seen digitally is like £65-70 for one of the Call of Duty games, can't remember which, when the physical copy was £45, lol. Obviously as it's been pointed out by others, that isn't the case around the world... but I'm not around the world, I'm in the UK where these ARE the prices... and until that changes I'll most likely NEVER go full digital. Digital is nice when they have sales and you get games for under a fiver and stuff... but for day one releases, here in the UK? NOPE!



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Disc all the way unless its same priced or cheaper digitally. The 20% difference between digital (on the UK PSN store) verses retail for full price games is a rip off for us in the UK.

I would love to support developers more but I love my boxes and discs for collection purposes. Plus, one of key benefits of consoles is that I have the freedom to do what I want with my game after I'm done with it. Trade to family/friends or trade in for money to fund other games. If I buy a game I want to play that I know I will complete and be done with it, I can just plough through in a weekend it and sell to my local CeX after. A bit like a rental service without being tied to anything lol. Done this with a few brand new games last gen and saved a bunch of money. And most of those end up on PS Plus anyway xD