Why You Don’t Own Your Own Video Games Any More

Ownership is dead.

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It's fair to say that the video game industry is going through an especially tectonic shift right now, with the very nature of gaming and how we as players engage with the medium changing significantly.

Over the last 15-or-so years, the mere concept of video game ownership has been crowbarred open into something far more complex, multi-faceted, and controversial.

Owning a game is no longer as simple as having the cartridge or disc in your possession, and while claims that physical media is dead are somewhat overblown in 2020 - where large portions of the world still don't have fast, bandwidth-rich Internet to support digital downloads - we're certainly making a slow-crawl there.

This speaks to the fact that ownership as a concept isn't merely changing - it's dwindling. What you think belongs to you in a tangible sense really doesn't, not even if you're clutching the game disc safely in your hands right now.

But before we get into the particulars, we need to first consider what that pesky word, "ownership," even really means...

7. What Does "Ownership" Mean, Anyway?

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In the earlier days of the medium, the concept of owning a video game seemed relatively simple - if you paid money for the game cartridge or disc and held possession of it, you owned it.

And as long as you kept the media in good condition and had hardware to play it on, nothing could really change the nature of that ownership dynamic, what with games being a static medium untouched by external forces.

You played the vision that the developers send out into the world, and that was it - for better or worse.

But ownership also expands to more multi-faceted concepts, like the freedom for players to do with their games as they like, within reason of course, such as selling them on or loaning them to a friend.

These ideas, that physical possession and the freedom to pass it on to others equals ownership, is fast going away due to the most significant invention of modern times: the Internet.

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Stay at home dad who spends as much time teaching his kids the merits of Martin Scorsese as possible (against the missus' wishes). General video game, TV and film nut. Occasional sports fan. Full time loon.