We are on the brink of a new era in gaming consoles as the next-gen machines are now just months away.
When Sony and Microsoft launched their visions for the latest consoles a lot was hyped up about how this was going to be the end of the disc and we were being led into a brave new world of digital downloads and cloud gaming.
Microsoft and Sony are both wanting to push the digital downloads with the Xbox1 and PS4.
As consumers and gaming fans a lot of people expressed concern that we are not ready yet to take a leap of faith into digital downloads only and that the disc still has a huge role to play in modern gaming.
Let’s a take a look at some of the advantages and disadvantages of disc V digital.
There is one massive advantage that buying a game on PSN has over a physical copy being that you can install it to two PS3′s. I know you can take your physical copy and install it on any machine however you can not play your physical copy on two machines at the same time, which currently you can on PSN downloads.
This is great for say a Dad who wants to play same game as son online he can buy a copy via PSN and he and son can both be playing on separate accounts and consoles
Will this continue to be the case come Next-Gen?
Sony have said you will be able to access your digital games library from any machine, however I bet you can not access it on two machines at the same time like you can now. I would expect Sony to have come out and said if it was going to work in a similar fashion on PS4 by now however there silence speaks volumes on this issue.
Microsoft, well it does not matter what they have said as guaranteed whatever they have said will have changed again between now and launch.
Of course another advantage is a digital copy won’t get scratched, lost or damaged, nor will it get snapped in anger by a neglected partner!
Currently you can not trade in your digital copies either, whilst I know there are rumours that both Sony and Microsoft are looking into this, as it stands with just 2 months to launch this is not the case.
We also need to take into account cost.
I am going to use Sony’s PSN Store as an example here as I am a PS3 user and the cost between digital and disc versions of games is staggering. I am going to take 3 games that you can currently pre-order on PS3 as an example.
Assassin’s Creed 4 for currently has a pre order cost of £40 via Tesco and when you view it, it says uses this code to save a further £5 so £35 delivered to you on the day of release.
Assassin’s Creed 4 on the PSN store to Pre-order is £59.99 a huge £25 dearer than the disc version of the game, now granted Tesco might deliver late so go buy one in store for £40 on release day you still save £20!
Watchdogs Tesco £35 PSN £55.99 Save £20!
GTA V Tesco £35 PSN Store £49.99 Save £25
Total these up Tesco £105 PSN £156
If you are lucky enough to be buying these three games in store you are saving yourself enough money to buy another AAA, just not enough money to buy it via the PSN store!
If this disparity of costs between stores and digital downloads are carried over to the Next-Gen it’s a no brainer for the vast majority of the consumers will continue to buy physical copies of games and save a considerable amount of money.
There is also the issue of download speeds and internet access to factor in as well.
Akamai reported earlier this year that the average US gaming speed was now 8.6mbps a 27% increase in speed compared to the previous year, whilst globally internet speed has seen an increase of 17% to an average of 3.1mbps. A study by Pew Internet earlier this year concluded that 70% of American adults have high speed broadband.
The above information confirms to us that the US leads the way in broadband speeds however the rest of the world is somewhat lagging behind, which is hardly a surprise or a new belief. Some people still have slow broadband and even broadband restrictions making digital downloads just not possible at this stage. It could take days with some internet to download a game.
We have seen over the last few days Sony will be allowing the downloading and pre loading of GTA V on the PS3 to start in Europe on two days before release day, this is because the download speeds in Europe are a lot slow than their American counterparts, this will help ensure EU users have the game downloaded in time for the official release day.
This is of course an advantage of digital as the game will be ready to start playing at midnight on launch day unlike people who have to go to stores to buy in the middle of night then travel home and install the game, or even worse those who have to wait for there chosen supplier to rock up on the day disc in hand.
In conclusion I can easily see digital downloads being the preferred option for a lot of users of Xbox1 and PS4 however will they have the broadband speed and enough money to be able to purchase these games digitally on the next gen?
Will you be buying via disc or digital for the majority of your purchases?
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This article was first posted on September 15, 2013