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Why I gradually transitioned to digital-format videogames

Gaming has always been a collector’s hobby in my mind. Part of the experience is gathering memorabilia, systems, but above all, videogames. Is the digital format here to change how we collect and access videogames?

There’s just something about holding a case, pulling the disc out and inserting it into the console. And if you’re old school like me, blowing cartridges and seeing the first splash screen pop up successfully was already part of the sense of accomplishment that comes from playing a game.

Videogame collection
My gaming collection back in 2008.

As you can see, back in 2008 I had a fairly diverse albeit not entirely vast collection, covering all Nintendo systems from the NES through the Wii (including 2 SNESs, 2 N64s and 2 Wiis), Xbox 360, PS2, PSP, PC as well as 4 Nintendo DSis. Yeah, I was responsible for half of Nintendo’s market value back then.

Nowadays, most of my purchases are digital. The last physical game I ever bought was The Witcher 3, which I bought over a year ago and still haven’t played. What happened between 2008 and today has been a series of relocations (Spain – UK – Chile – USA) that made me realize I’d rather not have to deal with physical formats anymore.

Every move meant packing everything, stressing over whether everything would arrive at the other end, the condition everything would arrive in and then having to set everything up again. Now that I’m older, I’d like to minimize the stress of moving, while also being able to prioritize other things in such pivotal moments in life.

Another reason for me to gradually transition to digital has been the mere convenience of being able to carry my collection wherever I go. I remember back in the day I used to carry my Sony Discman with a massive case containing my complete heavy metal CD collection. But like with the iPod, I’ve now converted to the convenience of carrying my games with me in a single package, whether on the Switch, installed on my laptop, or on my consoles. Another advantage is that today, losing said packages has little impact, since you can always re-download your saves and games from the cloud.

I have to admit, I do miss having a shelf to look at and feel proud of, but the advantage of actually having a tidier house, which I now share with my wife, and the fact that I can access everything almost instantly, more than make up for it.

Now, the next debate will be whether to have games downloaded locally vs. streaming services. Even though the latter is still a ways away, I’ll still be covering it in a future post, because I suspect the next generation of consoles will bring about some big changes around how we consume videogames.

What are your thoughts on this? Do you still buy games in physical format? Are you already using streaming services like PS Now?

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eduv77 View All

I've been a gamer since the SNES days and Donkey Kong Country was the first game I ever owned.
I currently work as a management consultant, and my console of choice is the Nintendo Switch, which I carry with me during my travels.

7 thoughts on “Why I gradually transitioned to digital-format videogames Leave a comment

  1. Nowadays most of my purchases are digital just because there are much better sales on the PSN store than in retail stores. I downloaded Titanfall 2 for 7$, that’s insane.
    However, I just realized that I might have to get more physical copies…and that’s because of blogging. When I want to review a game, I need a good cover photo to draw people in. And a boring screenshot of the title page just won’t do it, and if it’s a PS3 game I won’t even have the screenshot option at all.
    I love having a physical case, maybe even with some extras inside (I miss booklets). It’s really just the price that makes me go digital mostly. So I’m looking forward to go back to more physical games, even if my wallet might be mad at me for a bit.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That makes sense. My backlog has mostly grown because of how cheap and accessible digital games are. However, a quick trip to the discount basket at Gamestop or Best Buy will most of the time yield good finds, but it’s generally the exception to the rule. I think it’s in Microsoft’s, Sony’s and Nintendo’s interest in selling you games through their own marketplace than a middle man.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m stubbornly sticking to a physical format for as long as I can, haha. I just love seeing my collection grow, even if space is becoming a problem. Sadly, I do see the industry moving towards an all digital direction someday. I gotta get with the times.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think there’s a chance physical formats won’t truly die, they’ll just become part of a niche market. People still buy vynils and CDs, so who’s to say the same won’t happen with videogames? Streaming will probably be the pivotal moment, but with the current infrastructure, we may still have to wait a few years. Hold on to that collection of yours in the meantime!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m like you … moved toward a digital library. I started gaming on the original Xbox and had what I felt was a large library … then I got an Xbox 360 and never really played my original anymore. After that I seldom played the original and so I donated it and most of my library to a kids’ hospital so patients could play. I’m a little bummed thinking about all those games just gone, but that was my first step in “letting go”.
    The next step toward all-digital came when I was playing a lot of Borderlands 2 … all my friends were playing and I’d get caught up in games: sometimes at home, sometimes at work, and the occasional during work hours games. I was having troubles lugging that disc around. So, I went digital. With that I became aware how easy a digital library was: any machine, any time (as long as loading it wasn’t a problem with long download times).
    My final fall was sales, Games With Gold (free games every month as long as you’re an Xbox Gold subscriber), and selection.
    Like my original Xbox game collection, I miss just having them; the tactical qualities, the look, the substance of owning a “thing” … but I’m too practical for those to hold sway over the other benefits of a digital library.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m sure you made a lot of children happy with your donation. That’s probably the best reason to move to digital I’ve heard, kudos to you!!
      For me too, Games with Gold was part of what subconsciously made me transition. All of a sudden, I realized most of my backlog was digital, and was able to appreciate the convenience. Like you said, at the end of the day it’s all about practicality.


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