There are a few collectors out there who may have felt their hearts skip a beat after reading the title, but unfortunately that is the way the gaming industry is heading. It won’t happen this gaming generation and maybe not even the one after that, but it is coming. There are already a ton of games that get only a digital release. This goes for Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo consoles. So the question is, “Why has the video game industry decided to move towards digital games?”
The truth is that they didn’t have much of a choice. Due to the popularity of services like Steam, the way people games has changed forever. When a game releases, people want the game right then. They also want bigger and better games, and they want them for cheaper prices. These are some tough demands for development studios to deliver on. The best way for them to meet most of these demands is to release their games digitally. Not only is it cheaper for them, but they can get it into the hands of consumers quicker.
Releasing a digital game is cheaper for a number of reasons. First, there are no physical disc, box or shipping costs. All the developers have to do is pay to put the game on the PlayStation Network, Xbox Live or Nintendo eShop. This saves them a lot of money, which makes it possible for them to keep delivering bigger games without jacking up the prices.
The biggest problem people have right now is justifying paying $60 for a game when there are digital games that they can download online from indie developers for just a fraction of the cost. What people seem to forget is that there is a lot more money that goes into making a blockbuster game like “Watch Dogs” or “Assassin’s Creed IV” than what goes into making a game like “Little Inferno” or “The Cave.” Yes, these are great games in their own rights, but they do not have the production value of high-dollar games, and it shows.
There are some games that have already gone all digital. Take a look at “Senran Kagura Burst” on the 3DS eShop. The game got a physical release in Europe but was limited to a digital release here in the states. While that sucks for collectors who wanted to add the game to their collection, it is important to remember that the game never would have seen the light of day here in the states had it not been for online stores like the eShop. This just pushed the game over the limit into making the development team think that the game would sell well enough to be profitable. They never would have given it a chance if they had to release it physically.
The industry will continue to see a big push toward digital games this year. Nintendo is a little late to the digital party, but it has made huge pushes toward it as of late. The eShops on the Wii U and 3DS have offered huge improvements over the Shop Channel that was released on the Wii during the last generation. Sony and Microsoft will continue to push their online stores as well. These video game manufactures want digital stores to work just as much as developers do. After all, they want consumers to have 24-hour access to the games on their consoles. So if it is 5 a.m. and you decide that you want to download the newest Call of Duty, you can. As for collectors, you only have a generation or two left of consoles that will offer physical copies of games. Better enjoy it while you can!