Should You Buy Physical or Digital Versions of a Game?

In an ever-growing digital world, will physical copies be a thing of the past?

Most gamers earliest memories of purchasing games involved convincing our parents to drive us to the local video game store. Once you bought a copy of a video game you protected that disc/cartridge like it was your baby. Now us gamers have more options when it comes to purchasing games, with digital downloads becoming more popular. Gaming companies might catch on to this popularity and soon all video games might only be available as digital downloads. That’s a topic for another time though.

You may be wondering which route to go when getting some new games this holiday season. Here’s our list of the pros and cons of digital and physical copies.

Small versus large downloads

  • Physical copies have smaller files to download. Physical copies still require you to download quite a bit of data onto your console, but just not as much as digital downloads. time you’ll have to endure while the game downloads. Ugh.
  • Digital copies take much longer to download. The downside to this is you’ll most likely won’t be able to jump right into the game after you purchase it. Digital downloads tend to be much larger than physical games, so hopefully you have enough storage space on your console. If not, start choosing which save files aren’t that important to you and begin the dreaded purge for free space. Then there’s the long wait time you’ll have to endure while the game downloads. Ugh.

Ease of access

  • Digital copies allow you to stay home. Downloading games digitally means you don’t even need to leave the house. Like, ever (if you choose to live that way). The only problem you might run in to is the pressure to buy a game purely on impulse. It can be difficult to wait for the gaming store to open the next day to get a better deal on a game. Sometimes it’s easier to choose to download the game right then and there, with the downside that you’ll be paying much more for the game. One positive is it’s easier to switch from one game to another when you buy your games digitally. All you have to do is go into your game library on your console and then boom, you’re in the game. No need to switch discs.
  • Physical copies might not be in stock at your local game store. This is especially true for games that have just been released. You might miss out on the Day 1 experience of a game if you choose to go buy a physical copy.

Resell value

  • Trade in physical copies for cash. Another perk of buying the physical copy is that you could trade in your game for store credit or cash at most gaming retailers. Amazon even has physical copies that are much cheaper to buy than downloading the game. You can also lend your copy to a friend, and vice versa.
  • Digital copies can’t be resold. Once you download a game, it’s yours forever. If you begin to tire of a game, you won’t be able to trade it in to recover any of the money you put towards purchasing the game originally. Unfortunately, there are no “used” versions of digital copies, which means players end up paying full price for a game when you buy a digital copy.

Building your game collection

  • You can show off your sick gaming collection with physical copies. If you love to proudly display your dedication as a gamer, then you might want to buy all the physical versions of your video games. Some collectors love to display the game cases and/or box art. You won’t get any of those tangible things when you go the digital route.
  • Digital copies ensure your games will always be there. You might not be able to collect any of the cool gaming manuals or box art, but you won’t ever have to worry about losing your digitally downloaded games. Even if you delete these downloaded games from your gaming library, they’ll still belong to your account. Most consoles now have some sort of cloud storage, so whenever you feel ready to jump back into a game you can just redownload it.

However you like to build your gaming collection, it’s still great that us gamers have more ways to enjoy our favorite video games. The thing to remember is that you get to decide which of these factors are important to you. Will physical copies go out of style soon? Do you prefer digital copies or physical copies of games? Let us know in the comments below!

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