A couple of weeks ago we received news that the massive game selling store, Gamestop, would be closing 100+ stores this year and some gamers were quick to give credit to the rising digital purchase market for games. While digital purchases have been heralded as the future of gaming by some, we have reason to believe that a digital market for games is actually a really bad thing for gamers in the long run.
You may be asking yourself, “What’s all this corporate payoff Gamestop loving malarkey this guy is spitting out??” Please, don’t misinterpret us here. We aren’t here to say that digital purchases don’t have any merits or that Gamestop is the greatest company ever to have existed or anything. We totally get the convenience of being able to pre load new games onto your console to be played at the exact moment of release. We understand how convenient it is to be able to just quit out of one game and immediately start playing a different one, without even having to get up to switch out disks. We too, hate being told our games aren’t worth more than like $15 of STORE CREDIT when we want to trade in one of our games towards the purchase of different game. We hate being punished even further for wanting cash back so that we might be able to purchase that game at a different store that doesn’t offer credit for used games but has a better overall price for a game. But that being said, we should be careful about how much money we spend on digital purchases instead of getting physical copies because should the market move towards solely digital purchase then the repercussions for gamers will prove to be quite costly.
Let’s talk money here for a second. Have you ever noticed how digital games don’t cost any less than a physical one does? Shouldn’t it cost less for the distributor to distribute via the internet than it does to distribute physical copies? The digital market is not here to try to do what is best or easier for gamers. In fact, the digital market is probably trying to get more of your money than a physical store is. If they were trying to help gamers out and do what is right by them, then a digitally purchased game would have at least SOME sort of discount on the game. But we pay the same price for something we can’t physically hold in our hands. It would be a different story if physical copies of games had seen an increase in price once digital purchases were released. But it’s actually easier to get a physical copy of a game for a lower price than it is to get a digital one, which is just absolutely bonkers to me. Not to mention, used games are even less expensive and easier to purchase
When it comes to games, we can all agree that the price of the hobby can be pretty pricey. Luckily, we have various sales and the ability to trade in games to help lower some of those costs – and when we combine the two, we can get those high prices even lower. Now, Gamestop isn’t exactly known for giving players a good price for those games but you know who gives you even less for your used copies? THE WHOLE DIGITAL MARKET!!!! There isn’t any single way to get credit on your used purchases for digital games that you have played and beaten. That’s worse … MUCH WORSE. Yes, every once in a blue moon you might be able to find a good sale in your chosen digital market of choice but that isn’t a discount you will always have access to, nor is it something you can combo with the current value of your previous purchases. In fact, after you buy a digital game the purchase actually has a $0.00 value. You can’t resell that digital game at all! At least with Gamestop and some other physical retail stores, I can at least bring in a used game, combine it with store credit points and a current sale to get some really great prices on a either a new or a used copy of a game that I can repeat the whole process with again later. This makes the whole entire game purchasing process entirely less expensive in every regard for the consumer despite the fact that Gamestop is notorious for not giving you great deals for your used games. Despite their flaws, Gamestop and other retail stores are still a better value for your dollar than ANY digital store out there. Price drops make the deal even sweeter. (By using Gamestop points and selling a single used Pokemon game, I paid a grand total of $3.00 for my Day 1 new physical copy of Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild … THREE ACTUAL DOLLARS Y’ALL!) All of this doesn’t even include how the digital market essentially eliminates your ability to try out a game before you spend a ton of money on it as well.
Back in the day, people used to rent games and movies from brick-and-mortar stores, such as Blockbuster and Hollywood Video. Now those days are gone and we have things like Redbox, where people can rent games but but there is limited availability for which titles are available. How many times have you told a friend that they should check out the local Redbox to try out a new or older game to see if they like it turns into a full purchase for them? Most of the time, Redbox doesn’t have whatever obscure game no one has ever heard of that you are a huge fan of and you will just end up loaning the game to your friend for them to try out for themselves. Or maybe you have finished a game and want to let your friend borrow the game to play themselves or the two of you want to trade out games with each other after you finish them. How do you do this with a digital market? You can’t.
Now granted, the pros have little to do with Gamestop or any other specific company but if we had an entirely digital market, players would not be able to do ANY OF THESE THINGS. “But what about demos???” How many non AAA games actually have demos out there? You can’t demo most games and the demo of a game doesn’t even give you a chance to get a good grasp on what the game is like. They typically only feature some combat or specific aspects of the game to try to sell you but neglect the parts that might show how a game isn’t really worth its price. In an entirely digital market, if you really want to get a good grasp on what a game might be like you pretty much have to purchase it or go to someone else’s house and sit in their house for hours until you get a good grasp on the game. That’s fine if you have time to do that but it isn’t much more convenient in the end. Plus, what if the game company goes under and can’t maintain their servers?
Now, I realize this is an unlikely scenario but say one of the major console gaming companies goes under in the future. Yeah you have the game on your console but what if you run out of hard drive space? If you deleted the game it would literally be gone FOREVER. You also would lose those games forever if your console ended up breaking or something else happened to it. Without the servers that originally hosted the game file, there wouldn’t be anywhere where you could obtain a legal copy of the game. You possibly could find another console online with some of those games on it but it would be nigh impossible to find a console with the same exact game list that you previously had. (That’s not even including all the extra non game stuff like themes and what not. YARGH!)
Yes, there are some pretty convenient upsides to having a digital market but if that market takes over are the upsides really worth what we lose in that process? The digital market is not the most economic route for player and while we know that players feel like retail stores are trying to rip them off when it comes to returning games, we should perhaps not be so quick to jump to bring praise to digital stores like they are doing us a favor. Yeah they aren’t Gamestop or some other retail company, but be aware, the digital market IS NOT trying to help you get more for your money.
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