I’m not a supporter of Microsoft nor do I back their policies, far from it. However, when they detailed their original plans for XboxOne, I couldn’t help seeing a little something that would define tomorrow’s gaming industry. Without going to extremes like always online or no used games, I do reckon that digital games are going to play a greater rôle in the future, to everyone’s benefit.
Actually, digital games are redifining our industry right now, but in an soft and invisibile way. Nintendo no longer provides hard copies in bundles, Indies are coming en masse in digital stores, numerous digital-only games are worldwide hits, Microsoft is going to offer a digital copy of FIFA 14 fr XboxOne preorders and there’s already a cross-buy-like offer for blockbusters as CoD Ghosts, ACIV, Watchdogs and BF4. We haven’t noticed but have already entered a new era in which Blu-Rays and boxes become a thing of the past.
Talking about this, it is extremely difficult for me to consider no longer be able to take a game from the shelf, this glorious moment rewarding months of wait. I feel uneasy at the idea that material stuff is gone and that I wouldn’t have pretty boxarts to look at. But reality is reality, I live in a rather cramped place, and there’s no more space to cram the newest releases. I no longer see benefit to take around hard copies of games, as I hardly resell them. The boxarts, I can look at them on my PC, anytime on my phone, so the point isn’t there either. Everything can be stocked on PS3, PC or moved up in the cloudy sky. There are no more objections. True, I’ll do a few exceptions for collector’s editions like Idol Netpune PP or for super precious JRPGs like Legend of Heroes – Trails in the Flash, but digital will be the priority. The main factors for this are both ideologic and economic.
I’m generally pretty quick to militate for or against thing whe it comes to video games. For example, I decided two years ago never to buy a Bandai Namco game again (I wait until I find a used one) since the publisher has constantly turned down demands for the localisation of PS3 Tales of Vesperia. On the other hand, and if I want to be coherent with myself, I must support virtuous publishers by buying their games new, a refrain to wait just for saving a little money. For games I throughully enjoy, I wish to reward directly those who made it possible. Digital games are perfect to achieve this, because the publisher avoids distribution costs. I must stress that this is a personal approach and not a call to end game trading (I will keep using this system for PS4).
The second reason is price. If you have a Vita and like me aren’t that much in indie games, there’s… not really much to play in the West. And given the huge indie talk during the Sony conference at Gamescom, it’s probably not gonna change very soon… I therefore have to look East, in Japan where exciting Vita games are multiplying at breakneck pace. In the coming 6 months, I plan to import a least a dozen of PSVita games. Here in Paris, those ones cost between 70 and 80€ : it is looking pretty difficult for my wallet. Meanwhile, a 10’000¥ prepaid card for the Japanese PSN costs 118$, which is 80€. Knowing that a digital game costs at least 10 to 15% less that the retail version (between 5000 and 6000¥), the benefit is clear : almost two games at the price of one.
There is no more doubt. I’ve started recently with Conception II, ma Vita was ready to receive it. Another advantage is that I’m guaranteed to play my games on day one, without risk of a package being delayed (I recently had quite a bad experience with Atelier Esch&Logy, which I only got one month after release). I’m not going against physical format, I just withdraw from it for PSVita because in those circonstances it became an outdated model.