Earlier this week, we got the first gameplay footage of the upcoming Alan Wake 2 game. As a fan of the first game, I was of course excited about this. And the game itself looked really good! Then I went to social media to see people’s reactions to the trailer. In general, the reaction was positive – a good thing for Remedy. Then I noticed one post criticizing the fact that the game is only being released digitally. I had missed this information before this post, and my mood about the whole game went down. As far as I know, this is the first game of such a large category to make this decision. In this post, I will unravel my feelings of why I had such a negative reaction to this news.
I myself have been a fan of video games already before elementary school. Around that time I got my first game consoles. Since then, I’ve steadily built up my video game collection. Of course, I’ve also sold games over time, so my collection pretty much contains the games I want to keep. My collection is also currently in a very visible place in our living room in a glass cabinet. I am a proud video game enthusiast and collector!
The previous paragraph already tells many good reasons why I enjoy video games in physical form. As a hobbyist, collecting them brings me joy. I find a big video game shelf aesthetic, and I have been able to choose which games I wanted to display there. If you didn’t like a purchase or it’s just time to sell a game, you’ve always been able to get rid of it by selling. Neither of these features exist with digital games. When you buy a game, it stays in your library. It cannot be resold. You might have games in your collection that you don’t even like. Okay, depending on the service, you can hide them in different folders, but that’s not the point. Physical games really allow much more in this area.
Another point that I always have haunting in the back of my mind when using digital services, is the preservation of the games. What happens if the service is ever terminated? For example, if something were to happen and Steam would crash. Quite a lot of people (including me) would lose a huge amount of games. An example from the console world is the Nintendo 3DS, whose e-shop was just discontinued. Okay, the games will stay on your console, but if the console was made to support only digital games, you wouldn’t get new games on the console anymore. This problem may be present in the future on consoles if physical games are completely abandoned. PS5 is already a step towards this with its digital-only version. Physical games are always with you, whether a service crashes or not. Surely someone at this point mutters that a fire or a thief can take your entire collection, while the digital games remain in your account. Of course, all options have their risks.
Of course, I don’t consider digital games to be a worse option than physical games, if someone prefers them. They also have a lot of positive things. For example, it’s convenient if you go to a friend’s house, and you have games already installed e.g. on the Switch, you don’t need to carry physical games with you. And after all, using digital games is also an eco-deed, when you don’t spend on “useless” physical trinkets.
To return again to the situation of Remedy and Alan Wake 2. In its press release, Remedy has stated that many players today consume more digital than physical games, which is why they came to this decision. In addition, the change enables a cheaper price for the game – a whopping €59, where is the cheap price? I have to admit that if this is the future of games, I will probably buy fewer games myself. Especially expensive games, because if I don’t like the game, I always have to look at that game in my library, knowing that I invested a good amount of money in it and now it’s there. This attitude of mine is not a protest, but just my feeling for the upcoming change. I don’t feel the joy of buying the game digitally. Why would I spend my money on something if an important aspect to me is missing? Only time will tell what happens to physical games in the future. I still hope for the best, that we could continue in the same way as today – digital and physical games hand in hand.