Are hard-copies on the way out?

There’s been a lot of talk recently about the rumors surrounding the next-generation of consoles from Microsoft and Sony. Sony released the video below announcing a press conference on February 20th. Few solid details have arisen as to what the conference is going to be about, but most people believe they are announcing the “PS4” (not the official name, but what everyone is calling it at the moment).

As you can see, the teaser gives anxious gamers little-to-no information. However, the rumors are flying. Engadget summarized what has been making it’s way through the rumor mill. And VGLeaks has published this article about their specs predictions for the PS4.

The biggest rumor that has everyone talking is how both Sony and Microsoft have been considering going disc-less with these new systems.

Apparently the lords of the console industry are going to make it so you must have an internet connection to play games. When I first heard this, I thought, “Well, it will suck to not be able to play games if the internet goes down.” After reading more opinions, I’m more concerned with losing the ability to sell and trade games.

Gamers and retailers alike will feel the impact  of such a change. In a few years game shops will become practically irrelevant if everyone can only buy games online. As a gamer on a budget, I would have to be much more choosy about which games I purchase, knowing that I couldn’t re-sale them.

I currently have a Steam account, which is a site where you can purchase, download, and play a variety of games. This is essentially what Sony is attempting to do, except through the PS4 rather than a PC.

Many of the games on Steam are PC-only. But I own a few that are cross-console games, which I chose to buy on Steam rather than buy a hard-copy. Skyrim would be a prime example of this.

Skyrim: The land of dragons and stuff. Image courtesy of

Skyrim: The land of dragons and stuff. Image courtesy of

When Skyrim was released, I decided to get it on PC because my computer could play the game at a much higher level of quality than my Xbox 360. Not to mention, it would allow for me to mod the game if I wanted to (there’s probably a way to modify games on consoles, but I’ve never looked into it).

I was actually at a Skyrim party at my friend’s house during the midnight release of the game. While my pals  who were on their 360s were getting attacked by a dragon in the opening scene, I spent an hour dealing  with several server issues. This was probably due to everyone and their uncle trying to get Skyrim downloaded on Steam at the same time.

Despite these troubles, I would still buy Skyrim through Steam all over again. There are certain times when there are more advantages to buying a game online (better graphics, mods, ect). However, there is definitely something lost when you buy any media product via the Internet and only get to experience it digitally.

I still have several of the boxes and cases for games I bought years ago. It’s fun to go back and look at them, read the silly instructional booklets, and display them in my apartment to awe my guests with my nerd-cred. But, I’m starting to think hard-copies are soon going to be a thing of the past.


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6 thoughts on “Are hard-copies on the way out?

  1. Wow, it never occurred to me until your post that gaming might make this move. It doesn’t seem like there’s an advantage to going all-digital with games, like there is with music CDs, movies and books …

    • Yeah, I didn’t really address the advantages of it in the article, but one of the main reasons big companies like the idea of going all-digital is because people won’t be able to pirate games as easily. -Astro

      • Sure, that makes sense, what I should’ve said was advantage for the consumers. (This is why you don’t comment on blogs after waking up from naps!) I feel like there are enough pros to buying an album on iTunes to outweigh any cons, but for gamers it looks like there isn’t really any pro besides having less physical stuff in their lives.

  2. I find it increasingly inconvenient to have hard copies. Steam has completely changed my gaming consumer perspective. Even with my consoles, I opt for non disc options as often as possible.

    • It is more convenient to purchase and store games online, but I wonder how long we’ll be able to access those games? I know many people who still have hard-copy games from 20+ years ago that they can whip out and play. Will I still be able to play my copy of Skyrim on Steam in 20 years? It will be interesting to see how the digital media we purchase ages. -Astro

      • At the same time, a lot of those old games can’t be played. I mean, without digital distribution services like GOG, how many old games do you think would be patched to run in Windows 7 and 8? I’ve had games that were a complete hassle to run in various compatibility modes or patch to run just right.

        Or how about those old consoles that don’t run as smoothly? I loved my NES, but I’d rather just play an emulated version now and save myself the hassle of blowing and hoping it doesn’t break.

        I understand the fear of losing your collection, but I don’t see how something like Steam would ever have that issue. I think it is more likely that the licenses you have the right fail to get updated, and just get lost in the past.

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