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A positive outlook on digital downloading

Thanks to the advent of digital downloads, gamers no longer have to leave their couch to visit their local game store.  With the click of a few buttons (and a pounding of keys for credit card information), one can completely avoid the gas-guzzling journey down to the nearest store.

While the ease of digital downloads might seem flawless, if you think that you are escaping the annoyances of physical copies, think again.

Some of the unfortunate features of physical copies have followed digital downloads, albeit in a different form.

We've all seen this.

Physical copy: Scratched disc
Digital download: Glitchy file

Gamers know that there are few things worse than buying a game and finding out later that the disc is full of scratches.  Sometimes it might work in your console, but more often than not, your game will skip and/or freeze.  I remember when I bought a used copy of Final Fantasy VIII, only to notice that the CD had a severe scratch.  This scratch affected one cutscene, freezing for ten minutes (yes, I waited that long), until the Playstation finally figured out a way around it and resumed playing.

With digital downloads, the “scratchy disc” is now invisible, and has evolved into the form of the cursed broken file.  When installing your game, an error screen might pop up to warn you of the broken file.  Steam will usually track down a fix, assuming there is one.  The glitchy file is not fatal like a scratched disc may be, but you often have to wait for a patch.

I can only wish my collection looked like this.

Physical copy: Consumes shelf space
Digital download: Consumes hard drive

Your shelves are filled to the brink with game cases.  Some cases might even be spilling out onto the floor.  But it can be amazing to sit back and admire your vast collection of different colored cases, and think, “Damn, I spent a lot of money.”

Seeing “100GB free out of 600GB” is just not the same.  Your digital download only appears as a little icon on your screen.  Not to mention that hard drives are expensive, which you will be buying multiples of.  You can’t just throw your game on the floor when you run out of space anymore.


Physical copy: Load from disc
Digital download: Load from hard drive

Not much to say here.  You can’t escape load times, no matter which format you’re using.  Load times for digital download games are noticeably quicker, though.  Load times are a fact of video games.  Don’t like them?  Grab a cartridge (which is still my preferable way to play video games).

What other similar annoyances can you think of that are present in both formats?