What’s The Point of Buying Physical Video Games?

Growing up, there was nothing more exciting than convincing Dad to give my brother and I a ride to the mall so that we could get our hands on the hottest, new 64-bit cartridge. Nowadays, gamers do not know the agonizing thrill of being stuck in traffic with new video games in hand, nor should they.

New data suggests people are buying more of their video games digitally, rather than collecting clunky plastic cases and easily scratch-able discs.

A report published Tuesday by industry analysis firm SuperData says that the market for digital video games has grown 7 per cent since last year to a total of $5.5 billion. That’s great! And not just because gamers are no longer meticulously studying the game manuals of their new games to makeup for valuable playing time lost stuck in traffic. It’s because physical video games are basically obsolete wastes of space and resources.

Buying game discs from a store doesn’t really do much these days. Games need to be installed on your system’s hard drive because PlayStation 4s or Xbox Ones can’t run games directly off of the Blu-Ray discs. Instead, you are merely feeding into a system that produces plastic waste that will end up floating in the Pacific Ocean once the next generation of video games rolls around. So why, with the planet in environmental danger, continue adding to the burden by buying physical copies of video games when digital downloads are securing their position as the industry standard?

Joost van Dreunen, CEO of SuperData, told The Huffington Post that digital game sales are trending upward while physical purchases are trending down.

In the third quarter of 2015, Electronic Arts made $666 million in physical sales, a truly Satanic sum, and $480 million in digital. At the same time last year, it made $692 million in physical sales and $348 million in digital downloads.

“We’re anticipating digital to outperform physical for the first time this year, which indicates a sea change in the industry,” van Dreunen said in an email.

In the past, there was some virtue in buying physical video games because there was a chance of getting them for cheaper, either because they were used or simply marked down. But now, digital game vendors like Steam, GOG.com and the respective console stores have become known for frequent sales to enable gamers to make more impulse purchases.

Some people are always going to prefer having physical collections. Preference really is the only point of buying physical copies of video games. But for the sake of the environment, we all might consider changing with the times. If saving the planet doesn’t appeal to you, consider making the switch for the convenience of not getting up to switch discs when your video game library is totally digitized.

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