Opinion: Digital Downloads versus Physical Media

A survey this week from Ipsos MediaCT (Media, content and research specialists) has concluded, focusing on over a thousand people of various backgrounds and personalities to find out what the general feeling is towards the new system of digital downloading as opposed to the long established physical disc system that many still know and love.

The results still lean in favour of the old, with 64% of the surveyed people saying they prefer to have a physical copy over a digital license. That said, it should be noted that 64% is a far cry from a landslide victory for disc media.

With handheld devices more and more download centric (aka the PSPGo or DSI) and phones relying mostly on the internet for any applications or games, our world is very quickly becoming a digital one. I personally welcome our new digital overlords and though I have to say I will miss having a physical rack of nicely presented cases to get nostalgic over, I have noticed the same feeling happening from time to time as I browse my Xbox Live Arcade folder or my ever growing Steam Account.

Also when I look for a game on Xbox, I can search via genre or even title name, which is actually a lot simpler than two racks of non-alphabetised cluttered stacks and seriously, when was the last time you actually looked at an instruction manual?

Well anyway, as we do once every week, we’ll put the question out to you.

Are we over discs? Do you think digital will ever completely replace the feeling of adding it to your collection and tactile contact, or do you feel people should should just get with the times?

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Joshua Philpott

Tech MacGyver
Games writer, podcaster and tech wizard. Obsessed with obscure horror films, crazy gadgets and caffeine. Passionate, argumentative and open minded. Freelance writer and co-founder rawDLC.

Latest posts by Joshua Philpott (see all)

  • Denny

    Digital Downloads are awesome.

    One of my major gripes with physical copies is the fact that you need so much space. Sure, it's nice to have some boxes and such, but nowadays I only ever buy the ones that are worth buying, or I'm a big fan.

    As an example, I grab any and every Collectors Edition of Blizzard games. They're big, physical and are full of a fuckload of content, and considering Blizzard are my favourite developers and are the masterminds behind 3 of my favourite franchises ever, it's a given I'd buy the physicals. Same with Shadow of the Colossus and ICO, which are both unrivaled masterpieces in gaming and ones I would certainly buy multiple copies of.

    Most other products though? I just wanna play and enjoy them. It's a fine line. If it's something you have immense love of, then it's better to have that physical, high end copy. Anything else though? Digital. It's easier and more efficient. And there's no point in making things harder for yourself when it's there for the taking.

  • popshott

    I’m not really for Digital Downloads. Because the Australian internet sucks and also I like to have a hard copy because its, something I can hold and cherish, also a good collectors item I guess.

  • DoGM3At

    So true about the Collectors additions, but I hate that the value drops whenever a digital copy comes along.

    Still, as a friend of mine always says “There is no such thing as a mint condition Digital download.” – Chris

  • QuesterX

    Over disks, however there is something romantic about the shelves full of awesome gamage.

  • QuesterX

    nice. I will definitely be buying the StarCraft 2 collectors ed. it looks awesome. But for the most part i get digi copies through steam nowadays (unless, of course, its on the BOX in which case i have a shelf devoted to it.)

  • DoGM3At

    yeah many have complained that Steam's wonderful sale has cost them most of their monthly bandwidth. Gotta love capped internet.

  • Nachos Justice

    I hope you preordered it then dude… haven't they already sold out?

  • PSIress

    I rather physical media, and so over the whole digital downloads unless it's an add on or demo. I prefer having something I can hold and show off on a shelf.

  • popshott

    Oh STEAM a love/hate relationship, from valve.

  • Moopidoo

    Some very clever guy has created this-

    It simply blocks Steam from accessing the servers that aren't your ISP's. That way Steam keeps retrying on different servers until it connects to one your ISP runs. If you are with a supported one, you get unmetered downloads from Steam. Bigpond supports that, not many people realise this. Although, not all Steam content is on all of the servers. Funnily enough, the US version of Left 4 Dead 2 is on an Australian Steam content server…or so I hear >_>

  • adin75

    So, when I download a S.E. version of a game will they post me my extras? Will there be multiple digital stores so I can shop around for the best deal on a new release? When I am done with a game can I give it to a friend or sell it? Didn't think so, hard copy for me thanks.

  • Numuruzero

    To be honest, I think discs are still in. A cool idea would be, of course, to get a code with every physical game that would allow you to download the game should the disc ever stop working. Possibly even a one-time download that would allow you to copy one disc of it for backup. Of course, the code could be moved onto a new system, but it could only be used on one at once, and never on the same system twice. Or something like that.

    Anyway, I prefer discs. There's literally more there.