Abyssal Pixels: The Digital Age
Welcome to the world of 1’s and 0’s. Where everything your heart can ever desire can be obtained by a simple click or push of a button. All that is required of you is a little bit of your time and patience. We live in an exciting time and some of us are lucky enough to be born into it. These days, everything you could possibly want is available to you through the majesty that is the internet. Can this be beneficial in any way or does it rather do more damage than good? This is all up to you.
My first brush with the digital revolution came with me downloading a cheap game on Xbox LIVE’s Games On Demand. It wasn’t a particularly good game, but for the low price of 1200 MSP, I couldn’t resist. It took quite a while to download because of its almost 6 Gb size, but the wait wasn’t that long thanks to my moderately quick line. Now, this isn’t that big of a deal to some of you hardcore PC gamers out there that use Steam on a daily basis. Downloading full games is almost second nature to you already and some even use it exclusively.
My question is this: what does the future hold for this so called digital age? If you look at some of the new games on offer on the Games On Demand marketplace you can see that their prices are almost exactly the same. This can’t be right now can it? Why do you have to pay the exact same price for a game that’s only process of delivery is a progress bar? Let’s have a look at what physical copies require: They need to be physically made with plastic for the covers, paper for the sleeves and the disks need to be made as well with their own graphics and so forth. They need to shipped to all the suppliers around the globe in various countries with planes, boats and what have you. They then need to be shipped to shops that are both brick and mortar shops and online shops. Finally, the people that have ordered them online have to get their copy in one way or another. Can you see the massive process that has to take place?
If you download your game digitally the most strain the can be caused is with the servers responsible for the downloading of the game. There’s also a user behind a computer screen shouting “Yes!” every time the progress bar moves by 1%. Why are these two mediums of delivery equally priced? It just doesn’t make any sense. What game companies need to do, in my opinion, is drop the price of their digital copies to a more reasonable price. Maybe 20-40% less than what they are now. To give people more incentive to buy the more expensive physical copy they have to include more exclusive stuff. No, not the shoddy DLC deals they give now, but stuff you can actually touch. Include a poster or a nice booklet containing artwork that’s not just exclusive to the limited edition. Make the cover pretty and inviting. That’s how you do it.
I’m in full support for the digital age because I’ve seen how convenient it can be. Rather than go through an arduous process of ordering a game online or finding time in my day to go to a shop, I just click a button and wait a while. When it’s done I can play it instantly without any hassles. There’s also the benefit of having the game with you at all times without having to schlep around game disks everywhere. Also, for the lazy people, you don’t have to get up from your couch to put the damn disk in.
The only problem that I have with digitally downloaded games is that you can’t sell them at all. A big deal for some frugal gamers out there is the ability to sell games and buy new ones because of tight budgets and so on. I know a few gamers that live exclusively off selling their games as soon as possible and using that profit to buy a new game. It works for them and allows them to be the best gamer that they can be. With digital games, that’s not the case. Once you buy it, you’re stuck with it until you delete it. What I propose is that we can use a system that’s similar to Steam’s gifting system where you give the licence to somebody else and you’re not allowed to use it at all. If that can be implemented then the second hand games debate can be put to rest once and for all.
The digital age is scary. Some of us don’t have the internet speeds to fully experience this and some might prefer their physical copies rather than have a file on their PC or Xbox. It’s still a long bumpy road before we can fully embrace the digital era, but I’m excited for it.