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Digital and Physical Games: Which is Right for You?

By February 16, 2021Author's Opinions4 min read

In 2010, Scott Pilgrim vs the World: The Game released and praised as a great homage to arcade brawlers. In 2014, P.T. released and was praised as one of the scariest video game experiences ever.

What do these two games have in common? They were both delisted from digital game stores and were no longer playable with Scott Pilgrim being delisted in 2014 and P.T. being delisted in early 2015.

While many might argue that these games show the horror of digital downloads and that players should only buy physical copies games, there is a lot more to discuss. Physical and digital games both have their own pros and cons, but which one is right for you?

The Ups and Downs

Let’s discuss the biggest concern: do you own digital, or even physical, copies of games? The short is yes, but no. When you purchase a game, either physically or digitally, you are purchasing the right to play the game.

This means that you don’t own the software, but you are able to play it — even if you have a physical disc! This means that a company could make a game unplayable through a software update even if you own a disc; however, it most likely won’t happen due to frustrating players and lost sales.

Speaking of, removing digital games and online services is another big issue. Companies will often shut down online stores or remove games, and this can happen for multiple reasons.

First, digital game stores and even online games can be shutdown due to being old and too expensive to run. Thus, A moment of silence for Wii Shop Channel and the original Star Wars Battlefront II…

Second, games can be removed from game stores for various reasons. Scott Pilgrim was removed for unknown reasons, but most suspect it was due to copyrights expiring. P.T. was removed due to a falling out with the game’s creator Hideo Kojima and the production studio Konami.

This puts physical discs at an advantage; however physical game discs can wear down over time if not handled carefully. On top of that, getting your hands on certain games can cost you quite a pretty penny. While most games go down in value, others will sometimes cost even more than it was originally sold for!

Pre-owned discs usually are cheaper than a new copy, but digital game stores frequently have sales. Both options are great if you need to game on a budget or want to score a deal.

Conclusion and the Future

Personally, I lean towards buying physical discs, but I still buy many digital games. I love having a physical disc and box in my hands, but I can’t pass up a good Steam sale and most indie games can only be bought digitally.

The future of games seems to be heading towards a future in which digital games and even streaming games completely wipe out physical games. This conversation didn’t even include newly emerging “digital pass” storefronts which emulate Netflix with access to a catalogue of games. Both of the new generation game consoles have digital only versions and gaming PCs don’t even have disk drives anymore.

We may see physical discs disappear, but that is a discussion for another time. For now, digital and physical gaming are both great ways to play! Plus, the Scott Pilgrim game is back and getting a physical release. We are living in the best of both worlds.

Cooper Marshall

Cooper Marshall is a senior journalism major minoring in social justice at the University of Oklahoma. He is the current Media and News Coordinator of OU Esports News and Media. He enjoys biking, hiking, movies, and of course video games. While he's not a very competitive guy and prefers single-player games, he can totally beat you at Mario Kart.

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