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Forums - Gaming Discussion - Future of Physical Media in consoles - end of disks?

I see no reason why MS or Sony would switch from discs to carts in the future. The whole point for them is to get game download files onto your internal storage drive as cheaply as possible, and the disc is really the only solution for that goal, SSD speed cartridges big enough to fit next, next-gen games would be very expensive. As for Nintendo, they really only have 3 options for Switch 2 if they want to get ports of next-gen 3rd party games (which will require SSD speeds to run):

1. Drop physical media entirely and force people to download games to an internal SSD inside of Switch 2
2. Keep using cheaper, slow cartridges like Switch 1, but force people to install those games from the cartridge to a much faster internal SSD
3. Make cartridges that are as fast as the internal SSD, which would allow games to be played directly from the cartridge with no install required much like Switch 1. This would be very expensive, as each cartridge would basically need to be a miniature 50 or 100 GB SSD depending on the size of the game, physical game prices would likely be raised to $20 above digital game prices to compensate

Last edited by shikamaru317 - on 18 October 2020

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WolfpackN64 said:
Depends. I think the fact that most games are fully installed on the console has more to do with game devs not wanting to deal with partially installed games. A Blu-Ray disc can sustain read speeds up to 72MB/s (and unlike SD cards, this read speed is constant, no caching BS that drops your performance off a cliff after a few Gigabytes). With Blu-Ray discs being able to hold up to 128GB's a piece, being quite durable and relatively cheap to manufacture, I see them sticking around.
It would be a much more efficient use of space if a physical game from a Blu-Ray could be partially installed to minimize boot and loading times, with the SSD pulling data off the disc as a cache to quickly stream data when the game requires it.

The largest problem I see is that we've kind of plateaued in SSD's getting cheaper and/or larger in capacity. The larger capacity and cheap"er" SSD's are QLC, which means they're quite slow. PLC technology is on the horizon, which means if we just wait long enough, SSD's are going to be nearly as slow as reading from a Blu-Ray disc.
Furthermore, Blu-Ray Discs might still get some development as sony uses them as a base for their Optical Disc Archive storage (Blu-Rays are much more durable then DVD's and CD's ever were).

PS5 SSD speed is 4.5Gb and over 9Gb when counting compression.

So the BD transfering 72MB won't really cover that need.



duduspace11 "Well, since we are estimating costs, Pokemon Red/Blue did cost Nintendo about $50m to make back in 1996"

http://gamrconnect.vgchartz.com/post.php?id=8808363

Mr Puggsly: "Hehe, I said good profit. You said big profit. Frankly, not losing money is what I meant by good. Don't get hung up on semantics"

http://gamrconnect.vgchartz.com/post.php?id=9008994

The OP said "the end of discs" and I think that is the best way to put it.  I can agree that discs are going away.  I don't think carts are going away.

Nintendo is going to keep selling carts, because too many people buy mostly carts.  Also retailers are a great way to market games.  They do a lot of their own marketing which is basically free marketing for the game publishers and console makers.  On the other hand Microsoft is clearly going hard toward the all digital route.  It's going to be somewhat successful, at least, if for no other reason than they just bought Bethesda and a bunch of other game studios.  Hot exclusive games can make any platform successful regardless of how good (or bad) the idea fundamentally is.  So Microsoft wants to get to discless as fast as possible, and they are definitely going to be successful enough that they can't be ignored.

That just leaves Sony.  I think for Generation 10 Sony is going to have to choose who they want to compete directly with.  They will most likely choose Microsoft, as the path of least resistance, since they and Microsoft have been fairly similar in the past.  In this case PS6 will be a discless system that focuses on a digital subscription service.  They might also to choose be more like Nintendo if they feel there is more money on this route.  That means Sony will make something like a "Vita hybrid" with carts.  Either way Sony will have to toss discs aside for one of the other two paths.

Regardless I'd have to agree that the era of discs will end in a few years, but physical media will continue through carts.



As some others here, I don't see physical media switching to carts in the future, which is unfortunately. Yes, in modern days, Blu-Ray is probably not the best option because you can't run a game directly from it anymore. The main reason why carts will not be an option is because publishers want to spend as less money as possible on game distribution but this would mean spending more on a media than current Blu-Ray approach. It's great to see that companies like LRG still exist to bring physical distribution as an option but not everything is in their hands. If console manufacturers decide to ditch disc drives in the future, LRG's business will come to the end because there won't be even a possibility to produce physical media for such consoles.

P.S. The most stupid thing I ever see when the physical vs digital is brought into discussion is that there are a lot of clueless people in "digital" camp who believe that games will suddenly become cheaper once "physical media finally dies". And that physical media is the reason why games are that expensive as they are now.



 

Discs started becoming impractical for games in the 8th Gen. Disc drives have such a low read speed compared to HDD and SSD. And even triple-layer Blu-ray discs can't always fit all the data needed for a large AAA release now and in the future.

I suppose Sony and Microsoft could go to shrinking the amount of games available physically and choose to release them on small capacity SSD drives. But I don't think such a thing would happen until a PS5 revision or the 10th Gen. Nintendo's game cards for the Switch should continue to serve them well for Switch 2. Just up the capacity.



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There is no future for physical media - every year it will decline. It won't take much of a shift for computer game retailers to go and then it will be down to the online retailers.



TheBraveGallade said:

and by next gen, a 128GB read only SSD wouldn't be that expensive, currently they are around 20 bucks.

You do not want to use an SSD/NAND for carts/long term storage.

You want to use ROM.

DPsx7 said:

*Cards aren't that pricey. They aren't as cheap as burning discs but what does a 16-32gb card cost now? That's plenty for the majority of games. Ramp up production and the bulk costs won't be high at all.

They don't "burn" discs in a factory. They actually "stamp" discs instead, that allows for hundreds of thousands of disks to be created in quick succession at a low cost.
Where-as burning a disc requires discs with special chemicals/composition layers and takes "time" to add the data to the disc itself.
Plus those discs can and will degrade faster than a stamped disc.



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DPsx7 said:
The_Liquid_Laser said:

The OP said "the end of discs" and I think that is the best way to put it.  I can agree that discs are going away.  I don't think carts are going away.

Nintendo is going to keep selling carts, because too many people buy mostly carts.  Also retailers are a great way to market games.  They do a lot of their own marketing which is basically free marketing for the game publishers and console makers.  On the other hand Microsoft is clearly going hard toward the all digital route.  It's going to be somewhat successful, at least, if for no other reason than they just bought Bethesda and a bunch of other game studios.  Hot exclusive games can make any platform successful regardless of how good (or bad) the idea fundamentally is.  So Microsoft wants to get to discless as fast as possible, and they are definitely going to be successful enough that they can't be ignored.

That just leaves Sony.  I think for Generation 10 Sony is going to have to choose who they want to compete directly with.  They will most likely choose Microsoft, as the path of least resistance, since they and Microsoft have been fairly similar in the past.  In this case PS6 will be a discless system that focuses on a digital subscription service.  They might also to choose be more like Nintendo if they feel there is more money on this route.  That means Sony will make something like a "Vita hybrid" with carts.  Either way Sony will have to toss discs aside for one of the other two paths.

Regardless I'd have to agree that the era of discs will end in a few years, but physical media will continue through carts.

I don't think so. The problem they have is no games. Sure you'll say "but they bought..." when that doesn't guarantee a damn thing. Rare anyone? Personally the only thing I'd miss is Doom. Burned out on Dishonored and Wolf. Prey was neat but I dunno what they'd do for a sequel. Haven't played anything else. Anyways, since their catalog relies so heavily on BC it's easier to try digital even though they got shot down once before. (Have they learned nothing?)

Companies know it's suicide to go all digital, everyone has media coming next gen. Unless prices drop dramatically the market isn't going to wean off discs for a long time. I can see a couple reasons why it may benefit then to trade optical media for carts. Like I said before as long as we have this option I'm ok with it. As soon as we lose control, forced to be always online, I'm done.

*Cards aren't that pricey. They aren't as cheap as burning discs but what does a 16-32gb card cost now? That's plenty for the majority of games. Ramp up production and the bulk costs won't be high at all.

And cheap cards don't have enough speed anyway.



duduspace11 "Well, since we are estimating costs, Pokemon Red/Blue did cost Nintendo about $50m to make back in 1996"

http://gamrconnect.vgchartz.com/post.php?id=8808363

Mr Puggsly: "Hehe, I said good profit. You said big profit. Frankly, not losing money is what I meant by good. Don't get hung up on semantics"

http://gamrconnect.vgchartz.com/post.php?id=9008994

I'm going to echo what some others have said in that if the console market ever abandons physical media, then I abandon them. I don't care if it's disks or cartridges, but I demand a physical format. Aside from a few Virtual Console releases on the Wii U and 3DS, the only digital game I've spent money on in the past decade was Blaster Master Zero on the Switch. That's it. Only one new game, and it was some cheap small-scale release with 16-bit graphics I downloaded on a lark (I was a fan of the original). I refuse to spend $60 or even $30 on something I don't own. I like having an actual, tangible product I can hold in my hand and say "this is mine." No other major segment of the entertainment industry has forced digital. Not music, not films, not books. That would be a total dick move for Sony, MS, and Nintendo to collectively say "Sorry, we're not doing physical anymore."

vivster said:

It's not about patches. It's about the console manufacturer being able to remove your ability to play a game or even read the disc at the push of a button. At that point you don't own the game anymore. That's what DRM is. You don't own the product, but only a license that can be revoked at any moment. On a console there is zero distinction between a physical and a digital game in terms of game ownership.

Actual game ownership today is exclusive to PC and even there it's not with some games or only with jumping through hoops.

I don't know what the laws are like where you live, but that's not even remotely true here in the U.S. According to United States federal law, physical console games are legally the property of the buyer, just like any other durable good. They are treated as "sold, not licensed." While the publisher can shut down multiplayer servers, they cannot revoke your ability to play an offline single-player game. That would be the legal equivalent of Ford or Toyota remotely deactivating your car because they feel you shouldn't be driving it anymore "for reasons."

Digital downloads meanwhile are completely the opposite, being treated as "licensed, not sold." In the U.S., if you download a game, you do not own it. The platform owner owns that copy, and you're just leasing it from them indefinitely. They can revoke your license for a download at any time for any reason or no reason at all, and you would have no legal recourse (unless they are contractually obligated to not revoke your license).



Immersiveunreality said:
Great , less waste.

This. Honestly, the selfishness of gamers is a bit sickening. Do you know how much plastic pollution comes from those 3 billion+ discs that are printed every generation? Or the storage and transportation and their effect on the environment. Honestly, as much as I loath DRM practices, I am glad that discs and cartridges are going the way of the dodo. They will pretty much become niche collector's items.



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