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Digital or Physical Purchase?

Doom Open Beta just ended this weekend, and boy was it fun!  It’s a done deal, Doom will be mine…which brings me to the age old question, Digital or Physical Purchase.  Here are my thoughts.

No doubt, Id Software did pay attention to comments that were made regarding the  Closed Beta.  It felt a bit more refined this time round.  They worked on the weapon balancing slightly. Minor tweaks, feels a little bit more responsive and the Revenant stops feeling OP this time round.  Honestly, that was more than enough to get me to decide on making a purchase.  I’m a bit of a last minute preorder kinda guy, always on the fence until the very last moment.  And now I sit with a very interesting proposition.

First and foremost, not everyone in South Africa has the luxury of a stable uncapped internet connection.  And those current gen gamers are forced to only have the option of buying a physical copy.  Which is great, no complaints there.  Some of us are lucky enough to have a decent uncapped connection so we get to choose which way our purchase is gonna go, whether its physical copy from a local game shop or digital download from PSN/Xbox Store or Steam.   I’m more of a console guy so its pretty much down to PSN or XBOX Store.  And since my PS4 is my primary console and Xbox One is my exclusives and “holy crap that’s a bargain for gold member” console, I’ve decided to go with a PS4 copy.  Now comes the tricky part!  I’m an old school of gaming kinda guy.  I love that feeling you get when a new copy of a game is bought and you rip the packaging wrap and pop that bad boy into your console!  The smell of a brand new game cover…you know what I mean!  And of cause the Game Collection rack…properly organised and your brand new baby finds a nice cosy place to call home.

However, in this console generation.  I find myself being a 50/50 consumer.  50% digital and 50% physical.  It got me thinking of which really is best?  Both have their pros and definitely have their cons.  The first and most obvious (We’re looking at Doom here, most likely different with other titles), the PRICE.  Yes, I picked up that Doom PS4 copy is R799 on PSN while the RRP in your physical and some online stores are retailing at  R899.  Holy crap that’s R100 saving.  That’s a clear win for Digital on that front.  Though I’m still of the opinion that digital games should be far cheaper than the prices we all pay in general.  Think about, no shipping, no distribution, no printing/pressing on media and no printing package cover. So why then are we paying what seems to be the price of a physical copy.  Perhaps that’s a topic for another post.

See what I mean about Price!
See what I mean about Price!


Next on my deciding table is what I call Ownage-Experience.  Living with the game while its digital is by far the easiest to live with.  No popping discs in and out of the console when I feel like playing something else.  Its there on the hard disk, just click play and you’re in. No disk cover management.  BUT!  Actually having the disk sitting there is like I actually own the game.  You probably wondering what that hell that even means.  Cast your memory to PT!  As you guys know the game, or demo, was unceremoniously nuked from existence.  Therein lies the biggest issue with digital copies.  If some licensing deal or technical issue forces the removal of the game from the digital storefront at a time when you may have deleted it to make more space on your console for a new game…it could very possibly, be gone forever…regardless that you “own” it.  No such drama with a physical copy.  It’s there, it’s yours and only gone if a buddy borrows and misplaces it (SkyGamers top tip…make your buddy put a deposit down for loss of property! LOL).  On that front there is no clear winner, it boils down to personal preference.  I always prefer physical, I’m weird like that!

Old faithful gaming store...No better place to be in a mall
Old faithful gaming store…No better place to be in a mall

Last on my deciding table is the Buddy-factor.  This is a biggie.  Your buddies are pretty much what drives certain purchases including the console you end up buying. 9/10 you will buy a console that your buddy is also buying.  They’re the ones you’re going to be co-op-ing with.  The ones who hook you up with a game when you have nothing else to play and vice versa.  So when you make a digital purchase and it happens to be a game they don’t want to buy but would love to give it a shot, you are left with evil looks from your friends cause you can’t borrow them that digital copy, “What a douche…I just borrowed him MK XL!”  You don’t want that.  You could argue, “Ahem…PS4 has Game sharing, wink…wink”  To which I answer…”THIS IS SOUTH AFRICA” and kick you down a bottomless pit.  I tried it several times and PSN just tells me my line is too slow. Tried it between a 4Mbps and a 10Mbps, no luck…truth is with our current infrastructure, only the fortunate few with fibre lines are likely to get that working.  The rest of us are left in the dust.  So digital copy on that basis is left wanting.  Unless of cause, above buddy is getting his own copy!

In the end, when it comes to making that purchase commitment, there’s more to it than just deciding on price.  Especially in this country of ours where games are costing North of R1000 ( here’s looking at you Quantum Break…I’ll see you in the bargain bin).  If the game isn’t a day one purchase for you…do yourself a favour, wait it out, couple of months later, that game will most likely be on sale for a hell of a lot cheaper both digital and physical.  In my case, this game is THE GAMING FRANCHISE for me.  This is day one purchase territory!  And for once I’m leaning on the digital side.  That’s very hard for an old school gamer like myself, but my buddy is getting a copy so I’m in the clear on that front.  And you can’t argue with a R100 saving.  Here’s hoping Id and Bethesda don’t nuke this game 10 years from now.  Maybe I’ll grab a physical copy as well, 1 year from now, just in case!

So what do you guys think? Download or in-Store purchase?  Share your thoughts in the comments below.  Happy Gaming!