Up For Debate - Do you prefer physical or digital copies of games?

Written by Chad Norton on Sun, Feb 7, 2021 5:00 PM
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As the world and society starts to move faster and faster, many more people and businesses rely on digital products over physical ones. Instead of filing cabinets we now have Google Drive, and instead of a multitude of physical maps, we have the world at our fingertips on our smartphones instead.

It’s easy to see the digital side of things being much better: I mean you can’t get a coffee stain on an important document; homework can’t get chewed up by your dog; and now you don’t have to wait weeks for a letter from your grandma to come through your letterbox, it’s just there in your inbox, straight away, and she’s asking you to help with the Google on her smarter phone.

Anyway, the point is there’s a lot of benefits to going the digital life, even for video games. But some of us just love that sweet feeling of plastic (or metal if you’re into your steelbooks) and the look of a decked out shelf full of 100s of video games that have been added to the collection.

Like there's just something about having all the Mass Effect games lined up against each other, and then to top it off with the upcoming Mass Effect: Legendary Edition just makes that collection all the more sweeter. Or having every single Far Cry game stacked up with a little space left out for when you can finally add the upcoming Far Cry 6.

Or maybe you just like getting the collector's editions of games that pretty much always come with a physical copy of the game, so you may as well keep it.

Physical games also have a leg up over digital, as you can be sure the copy of your game will never get updated or tweaked without your knowledge. With a digital game, a studio can technically remove a part out of the game that they feel is insensitive and update it instantly, and if you're against censorship in any way, that’s a problem.

Digital games should, in theory, be a little cheaper than physical copies anyway because you don't have to print them onto a disc, and ship lots of copies around the world. And whilst this is sometimes true, it's actually very rare to see any company do this nowadays. So who knows, maybe in the future they'll see the value of making digital copies cheaper, or they'll stick to what they're doing now nonetheless.

But that’s just a small example of the many benefits and differences between going either physical or digital with your game copies. So we want to hear from you exactly what you prefer, and what you feel are the pros and cons to either side.

So what do you think? Do you prefer physical or digital copies of games? And why? Are there benefits to either side? What are the cons? And what was the last year game you bought as a physical copy? Let’s debate!

Do you prefer physical or digital copies of games?

What is it about physical copies that you like most?

What is it about digital copies that you like most?

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08:07 Feb-22-2021

The best argument for me for physical copies is my limited internet. 200GB per month per 4 persons is not enough to download most AAA games.

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17:41 Feb-08-2021

Can't say that I understand the Stability part in the last vote?

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02:00 Feb-09-2021

Probably related to the part about retroactive "updates" to digital games.

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14:37 Feb-08-2021

im all digital

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17:42 Feb-08-2021

Ditto

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11:57 Feb-08-2021

Physical games on consoles are a must for game preservation, but they also need to be on a medium that will not deteriorate in 10-20 years (like many CDs do). On PC we can get away with "piracy" easily even for games that have been lost in a legal limbo and are not sold anywhere anymore, but it's not that easy with console games (consoles needing modification and those mods often coming with strings attached, such as legit digital games no longer working, IF you can even hack the device revision you may have!).

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12:00 Feb-08-2021

To add to that - I actually do NOT like updates. First of all, like it was mentioned in the article - games get retoractive patches nowdays, which sucks fat sausage when licensed stuff gets removed or replaced (Mafia, GTA, etc). On top of that, the ease of updating these days has created another problem - useless physical editions! There are plenty of Switch cartridges that contain HALF the game (L.A. Noire), have missing levels that must be downloaded (Spyro: Reginited) or are just missing updates over time (Animal Crossing, Diablo, Skyrim, TW3, etc)

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12:03 Feb-08-2021

I also don't like updates due to the way I play games. I may start a game, play it for a while, then something may come up and I'd have to drop it or I may play something else... When I return to the first game - it may have changed somewhat already. It's especially bad with online games, so I tend to avoid them, but this stupid issue is now seeping into SP games as well - Animal Crossing: New Horizons is a good example of a game that came out severely lacking in features, which are added in via constant updates - what's the point in buying it then?

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12:06 Feb-08-2021

Physical editions of games are becoming increasingly pointless because digital distribution became the norm. Sure, it's convenient, but the devs are got used to launching buggy games that they "support" (AKA: finish developing) afterwards. That Animal Crossing game my missis bought - useless cart that is missing half the content by now + it's still not finished (with content "for years to come" as the devs said). Or imagine having bought CP2077 physical and ending up with a broken game that corrupts your saves after a while. It's ridiculous...

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12:15 Feb-08-2021

I like old Nintendo games - I bought a bunch of GB/GBC/GBA games on ebay (legit carts - have to be vigilant, as there are far too many fakes!) and 15-30+ years down the line - they all work fine and I can play them as intended. It's truly something else to play such old carts on OG hardware (well, modded displays, because who the hell wants a non-backlit display these days!). I can't say I'll be having the same feeling with any of the digital games I've bought.
And yes, I also buy vinyl at the ripe old age of 28 xD

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10:17 Feb-08-2021

With today's (actually the past 12 years) way of publishing games, a physical copy is already outdated on launch day. The fact that you NEED to patch your games in order to play them makes physical copies a waste of resources.


If manufacturers want to bring back physical copies, they'd have to find a way to update the data on the disk, so that you'll always have an up to date game.

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08:06 Feb-08-2021

Physical with no drm.
I'd like digital just as much if there was an option to have Digital without drm, be it account, app or in-game DRM.


Really it's the DRM that's a problem, not the form of distribution

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03:39 Feb-08-2021

Personally I prefer digital, because it takes less space, no disc that can get scratched or damaged over time and with fast internet I can always just download it fast enough. Also I do have to download all updates for physical version anyway, if even whole game comes on disc, some actually don't. Plus physical with keys usually requires you to activate and bind it to your account anyway.

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03:41 Feb-08-2021

Though physical does still give more of a feeling like you own something, unfortunately they don't come with goodies anymore, mostly just 12 page manual in 24 languages giving short version of legal disclaimer and link to support page. Also in terms of impressive collection, physical of course will always look better when you have ton of boxes and discs, opposed to big Steam library.

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03:42 Feb-08-2021

Also on consoles, since discs still don't bind to account, you actually can borrow or sell it. So that is more of console only advantage.

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22:33 Feb-07-2021

Physical for Consoles. I like the ability to lend and borrow games with friends.

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22:20 Feb-07-2021

Physical was nice but now my choice is digital for all my content.

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21:03 Feb-07-2021

It's nice to have a physical copy, but it's just too convenient to be able to download it whenever you need it. Also, it is better for the environment to go digital. Not that that defined my choice.

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21:03 Feb-07-2021

Physical, cuz i can smell it. But they're more expensive than digital so i go with digital

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19:40 Feb-07-2021

Physical all the way. I only buy digital games when these aren't released on physical format, or, copies are just too expensive 'cuz, people.
Bought a CE o CP2077 recently and... Sheesh! Thing is freakin' HUGE!

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19:30 Feb-07-2021

i guess i prefer digital because its much easier to obtain them throughout the online stores but having physical copy is nice, i cant describe it but it feels nice to see it in physical form :D Its somewhat similar as reading from pad in pdf vs reading an actual book.

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19:20 Feb-07-2021

Used to be physical decades ago but now digital. I'd have to own at least 20 case logic cases to hold all the DVDs if digital never came. Also physical copies were good but I did get sick of downloading no-cd cracks!

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19:16 Feb-07-2021

Physical but I play PC, so I haven't had that choice for 12 years. Boxes now just have a code and rarely a DVD with 4GB of the game, still locked behind DRM.

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18:36 Feb-07-2021

It used to be physical before the constant need to download day 1 patches and launchers. The last game I bought on disc was Skyrim: LE and that required me to download most of the game through Steam. I've seen more games on disc for PC that only contain launchers and keycodes rather than full games in recent years, so now I just buy digitally, as it's cheaper than a box with a leaflet in it.

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18:24 Feb-07-2021

physical for the memories and the good old days

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18:19 Feb-07-2021

Physical for the ability to resell.

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17:56 Feb-07-2021

For consoles, physical. For my laptop, I have no choice but digital because it doesn’t have a disc drive.

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17:32 Feb-07-2021

Honestly, with the exception of books, I prefer all my media to be digital. Soooo many less shelves/boxes/crates in the house.

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