The Growing Problem Of Game Size: What Are We To Do?
This has been an issue I’ve been pondering as of late, ever since the revelation that Killzone: Shadow Fall was to be 50GB on the PlayStation Store. Then just yesterday, we learned that the Xbox One’s Dead Rising 3 would be getting a patch that is a massive 13GB in size, and that pretty much set me on this course to write about my thoughts on the subject.
The first obvious issue of course is that of downloading. I won’t be spending too much time on this, because we in South Africa are the victims of this far more than internationals. You bastards with your insanely high speed internet. I always felt that this was the generation that gamers in my country were going to start getting left behind, because our fastest speed right now is a 10MB connection, whereas we still offer speeds slower than 1MB. Unfortunately, making over 10GB downloads regularly is not feasible on those kinds of connections, and furthermore we still have capped internet on offer.
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Now, I’m not saying that internationals, despite their fast internet speeds, aren’t facing this problem as well, because there is firstly still the matter of large numbers of people downloading massive files at once from a server, and secondly there is the problem I actually want to talk about today, which is the matter of hard drive space and game installations.
Before I go into that, an important detour needs to be made. Those with reasonable knowledge of games would know that a game’s size isn’t made up purely of the game itself. You wouldn’t think it, but non-essential content like the extra languages and that are actually a huge chunk of the total size.
That is why if you’ve ever looked at some game torrents (naughty!), you’d see that “Black Box” editions of games, which are basically games that have all unnecessary content ripped out of them to reduce the size, are drastically smaller than the full editions. For example, games that are over 15GB in size, could have Black Box editions that are less than 10GB. While Black Boxes were usually some people’s saviours, it now seems that even they are being put to the test as the recent Battlefield 4, for example, is over 20GB, and its Black Box is 16GB. However, on the other hand, Need for Speed: Rivals was 8GB, and its Black Box was somewhere around 3GB in size.
Keep in mind that this is all before the games are actually unpacked and installed, and this is simply referencing their download sizes give or take a few. As if you were downloading them from Steam or PlayStation Network or Xbox Live.
Now with games this large, it immediately becomes a problem for digital-only. Our new consoles have started out with hard drives that are 500GB in size, although that’s not necessarily true because of the OS space and such, and most of us know that you never really get the full capacity of any hard drive. That means with the PS4 we’re getting a borderline acceptable 407GB and the Xbox One is giving us a lowly 362GB, which is worrying. Both of those figures can easily be verified through Google.
Initially, my first thought when contemplating my lovely PlayStation 4’s hard drive was that I didn’t mind too much because games install ridiculously quickly. Seriously, all of them so far took less than a minute after inserting the disc to become playable, so surely deleting games and re-installing them can’t be such a train smash? I mean, it’s naturally a bit on the crap side that you will need to delete games constantly to clean up space, and that’s just on PS4 where it’s quick. But it’s a worry on my beloved PC as well, and of course to anyone with an Xbox One. Well, that’s for disc-based games. The problem comes in with digital. While my Steam games are fair enough so far to manage, you can’t just easily re-download a 50GB game or so and get back playing as conveniently.
I’ve been contemplating the issue, and for one thing it might become better when newer models of our consoles are out that hopefully pack 1TB hard drives or more. But that’s a long-term aid, and it doesn’t help us here with 500GB consoles and increasing game sizes. Personally, I’m not really sentimental about my games and neither do I go for second playthroughs unless it’s years later or the game was extremely good and begged for me to return. That’s why I can easily delete games and move on with my life. But that’s only me. I fully get how many gamers out there want to return for multiple playthroughs or keep their games if they’re always coming back to them.
On PC, you have access to easily usable external hard drives and game data back up features on Steam for instance to prevent having to re-download your games. But on console?
Sure enough, many would argue that it’s unrealistic that anyone would actually need to keep more than ten games on their hard drives, since no one really plays that many games at once, and it can’t hurt to re-download the smaller digital titles. That is a fair argument because sometimes people do tend to make an issue out of something that previously wasn’t really an issue. I mean, I’m sure many console gamers before had buckets of game data from past titles on their consoles but never went back to replay those games. I know I was guilty of that.
But an important question to ask is whether or not games will continue to grow in size, as these are just the launch titles. After a year, how large will some of the heavy-hitter titles be?
My next thought I will freely admit is a stretch of the imagination. But honestly, I am wondering whether aspects such as “replayability” will become even less of a thing for games over the course of this generation. Since now publishers possibly may not only be battling for gamers’ attention in short spaces of time, but also for their game to be played as much as possible before they literally become yesterday’s news. I mean, it would take a strong pull for someone to re-download a 25GB+ game after they’ve deleted it. Here I am also referring to those busy windows where we see maybe five to ten major titles release in a month.
It’s probably not even related, my above thought, and maybe it’s a bit silly but I’m putting it out there because I do anticipate that gaming and the industry are both going to undergo some drastic changes throughout this generation. If you read Alessandro’s very interesting piece recently, about the game industry potentially heading towards a crash, you might find that statement more believable. I’m sure many gamers have seen that things can’t go on the way that they have, it’s just not realistic this way.
So is the matter of games becoming too big a possible factor, even in a really small way, in what might eventually lead to changes in our gaming? Or do you feel that it’s a negligible issue, since there isn’t a good reason realistically to keep such big games on your hard drive throughout the year?
Personally, I am not too worried for myself, since I know what kind of gamer I am, but this is more reaching out to those who are seeing this as a potential problem. What are your thoughts on how to deal with it as of yet?