Games as an Item in the Home

[Artwork from a "Hackday" post about this very topic]


It's impossible for a collector to not think about the sharp cut-off of physical games in recent years. Some might say it's one of those things that was hastened by the pandemic. 

Collectively, downloading games or - even just playing them in the cloud - seems like it is seen as the natural evolution of things... right?

Here is a brief and rough history of game delivery:

1977-1995: Cartridge
1995-2020: Disc
2020-Now: Download
Next: Cloud

Amazingly, not much has changed over the last 30 years (disc), but safe to say that we are living through the transition to a disc-less world which begs the question...Do we have to?

The drivers behind the change from physical media to downloads are likely internet speeds in the hands of the many, discs that can't hold all the data (128 GB or so), and cost. Most AAA games are pushing that storage limit so it's natural to expect things to just move away from the physical. Who wants the cost anyway. Especially when little asshole-johnny just can't wait till on his next-day delivery from Amazon for the latest Modern Warfare.

All that stuff makes sense, but is that where the industry wants to go? The average gaming age is increasing right along with the sophistication of the games themselves. Why not offer a physical cartridge to consumers? The cost per GB is small (and dropping rapidly), manufacturing costs are manageable, and transferring data from the source is lightning fast. 

Put the physical game back into homes. 

Inside every home/apartment/domicile of a person over 35, you will find a bunch of books, a smattering of records, a few CD's, and likely (in a closet box, perhaps) physical games. That's not just collectors. Any gamer over the last 40 years will have intense nostalgia for the games they have owned over the years. Millennials, particularly have this for whatever reason, but I, as a GenX person have it as well. 

Part of me thinks that kicking a physical item that is a video game to the curb is that publishers see them the same as movies. They are not, however. Discovery, collecting, and creating a gaming space has become a big thing and is growing every year.

Collectors rummage through thrift stores and bargain bins to find hidden gems. It keeps the games alive and rewards those willing to search around. It is a rush, frankly.

What we see now with music and movies is how quickly things vanish into thin air. It's particularly noticeable in movies. I keep a mini log of what I watch with my family, not just for fun but to remember what the hell I've watched and try to recall the experience. Turns out, it's nothing close to pulling an old DVD or Blu-ray off the shelf. 

With games, it can be worse. I have downloaded games on my dusty, unplayed PS4 that I can't remember and while there is a way to access them, it would require some doing to pull up those games. And even when I did, I'd have to re-download the stupid thing to play it. On top of that, several years from now, that data will likely be deleted even if you do somehow manage to use the same account.

Anyhow, this post is neither here nor there but the hope of all hopes is that some 50-ish publisher will stumble on this post and re-think eliminating physical discs/cartridges.