Why Physical Media Is Still Better Than Digital

More and more services are popping up that allow people to play games without ever having to set foot in a physical store. I'm not talking about Amazon or ordering games from GameStop's website and having it shipped to your home. I'm talking about Steam, the PlayStation store, or the direct download store on your Xbox One.

We're talking digital copies of games. Let's point out right away that I own plenty of games for the PlayStation 4 that are only digital copies. It's awesome, because even if I sell my system or want to play one of my games on friend's PS4 while I'm visiting them out of state, I can. My games that I've purchased follow me. The same has actually happened with my Steam library. I had a ton of Steam games that I'd either bought myself, received as gifts, or bought as part of bundle packs. There was no way I was going to be able to finish every game I had before I was going to get a new computer. And that's exactly what happened. I built a new computer from scratch and never had to worry about what was going to happen to all those games I was playing. Sure I'm lazy and didn't transfer over my save files, so I have to start my progress all over again. But you know what? That's a drop in the bucket compared to having to re-purchase all of those games. Ain't nobody got money for that! But I do have time. Time to replay them and/or finish them.

I wanted to get that out of the way since it is clear that I do like digital copies in the right instances. Steam is the real deal breaker for me right now, especially since PC technology changes so often. It's not unusual to get new PCs fairly regularly when you can afford it. Having my games travel with me is fantastic.


When it comes to consoles though, my opinion is generally the opposite. The same is true of mobile gaming as well, as far as Nintendo is concerned anyway. I had the original Game Boy, a Game Boy Color, and now I have a 2DS. I can still play any new 3DS game that comes out on it, and Nintendo has a tendency to keep ports for old games in their new handhelds. I remember the Game Boy Advance I had that could play Game Boy Color and original Game Boy games. I loved that thing! It was actually sad to give it up, because it meant also submitting my collection of games to the sad pawn shop graveyard. The future will hopefully bring other handhelds like this, that will have the ability to play my 2DS/3DS games, as well as whatever the next big thing is (most likely SD cards).

Console gaming was the same way at its inception. The PlayStation 2 was awesome, because I could still play PlayStation games on it. Same with the first few PlayStation 3s. It was great fun to play something new like The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (yes, it did regrettably suck on PlayStation 3, but still!) on the same console that I could play my old copy of Kingdom Hearts II. I didn't have to shuck my PlayStation 2 games, and I got to play new games at the same time. It was wonderful.

The argument stands that I could do the same thing now with services like backwards compatibility on Xbox One. But that's only one current gen console. The PlayStation 4 does not have any ability to play older games at all, unless you rebuy digital copies of them. And the Xbox One's backwards compatibility only works with the games that are on their list. You can't just put in any disk and expect it to work. Sure this is a nice middle ground, but I'd love the ability to just pop in any disk I want and play away. The same is true for the PlayStation 4. Why can't I play older games? Considering the PlayStation 2 was backwards compatible, and the PlayStation 3 at least made an effort at first, why did the PlayStation 4 get left out?

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I don't want to have to keep buying new versions of games that I already own. I want the option to play Kingdom Hearts II on my new consoles if I want. Especially considering Kingdom Hearts III will be here before we know it! I shouldn't have to go rooting through dusty old containers to hunt down my PlayStation 2. There should be some way that I can play disc based games on newer consoles with little to no effort. It was done once before, and yes technology has changed since then, but the ability to adapt said new technologies is equally present. Having to repurchase my games in digital form just to play them even when I have the old disc version right in my face is just an insult.

What do you think readers? Do you think I'm lazy and unjustified? Should I just bite the bullet and pull out my old systems or buy used versions of them to play old games? Or do you think we should have the ability to play these old discs on our shiny new consoles? Let me know in the comments!

April Marie
April Marie

Contributing Writer
Date: 04/17/2017

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