Dying Light, Techland's upcoming parkour-themed undead romp with Oculus Rift support, recently stunned us with higher prospective RAM demands than anything we'd ever seen. Those requirements have since been lowered significantly, but in all the bluster, the space it asked of your poor hard drive was barely noticed, but it was 40 GB and it's a lot. The second most demanding game requirements we've ever seen were for Assassin's Creed: Unity which wanted a comparatively friendly 6GB minimum of RAM, but 50 GB of install space. This still is a full tenth of the size of many gamers' hard drives.
Remember how great discs were back in the day? So much easier to store than cartridges. And it wasn’t long after that that we didn’t even need anything as cumbersome as a CD to store our games and media, provided we had a nice big 30 GB hard drive that could fit about 43 times as much. With more and more games asking incredibly high install sizes, those discs are starting to look a lot more attractive again - there are DVDs and Blu-Ray discs now that hold vastly more than CDs but do so in exactly the same amount of physical space, while buying bigger and bigger hard drives to accommodate downloads that often already cost more than the discs is still a very expensive habit.
Of course, we have to weigh up the spectacular improvements we’ve seen in the quality of games. These drastic download sizes are only so big to feed our need for bigger and better looking content.
Where does it end? Has something got to give way? Hard drive capacities will surely keep getting bigger and as it spreads the technology will become cheaper and yes - internet speed will probably take care of how long it takes to download the terabyte-sized games when they arrive, but what kind of power are we going to need to achieve all of this? Is there an upper limit to how much quality and quantity can be packed into a game before we get bored anyway? And besides, do games even need so much detail to be worthy of our time? Everything has its place, but there are so many terrific little indie games that suggest they don't. And for reference, the Xbox One's hard drive, at a user-accessible capacity of 362 GB, will store approximately 20 modern games at most.
And is all this crazy? That wily old clever-clogs Einstein said that insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Sound familiar?