Digital Distribution vs. Physical Copy

Discussion in 'Psychology' started by Cinnamon, Apr 19, 2009.

  1. Cinnamon

    Cinnamon New Member

    After reading about Patapon 2's US Release, I've gotten a bit curious about what would make a person choose a digital copy over a physical copy of a game, book, or any other product. I figure it's just a matter of preference, but there's definitely something satisfying about having a physical object when you buy something. DD is just starting to get mainstream, so I'm wondering if the need to have something in your hands and the general newness would cause this to flop.

    This post is all over the place. Oh well, anyone have two cents?
  2. link6616

    link6616 Well-Known Member

    I used to think that DD was not as good as a physical copy...

    Then I meet Xbox live marketplace and love it. While I do prefer a physical copy, DD allows for games that may not be so mainstream to get distribution in wide area but low population countries like australia... For instance, if SotN for the 360 was only a hard copy game, I wouldn't expect to see it much where I live, but now, I can just grab a copy online.

    I don't like the fact you can't lend DDed games though.
  3. Claytus

    Claytus Well-Known Member

    I hate having to deal with a physical object for something like software... I guess the short version is that I live in a studio apartment and only own 1 bookshelf.

    Not to mention that clicking a few buttons while sitting at my desk and playing a game 20 mins later is incredibly much more convenient than either trying to find a store that happens to stock the thing I want, or waiting a week on a package...
  4. Sirlin

    Sirlin Steward of the Realm Staff Member

    Which is easier? A bookshelf full of PS2 games or a hard drive loader that puts all those games in a single menu when you boot up your PS2? That one isn't even a case of preference, it's just clearly better to have a PS2 decked out like that. Xbox Live is more accessible way to see that. From your couch, use a wireless controller to select the game you want from a menu. That is more "satisfying" than switching discs.

    I have a kindle with several books on it. A serious drawback there is that all the books I read are non-fiction that I will want to go back later to find certain parts for reference. Yeah you can put digital bookmarks for every one of those things (and I never do because I don't know which parts I care about until later), but the kindle is just not as good as physical book for *quickly* flipping pages looking for the part you want. At least it has search, which is great, but quick page turning is a real advantage of physical books...for now. Someday technology will fix that.

    Anyway, I can have several books with me, each one of which is bigger and heavier in physical form than ALL of them together in a kindle. Add to this that there is a free iphone app that gives you instant access to all your kindle books with bookmarks intact, readable on the iphone. Now I can fit big heavy books in my pocket in a device I always have with me anyway.

    Needing a physical copy of something is becoming more and more dinosaur-like. I'm surprised this post isn't asking why people care about physical copies when the advantages are more and more toward digital.
  5. link6616

    link6616 Well-Known Member

    I've always thought the preference of the physical would be obvious... You've still got it if something goes wrong with the software/hardware. Although, I think that from the little I've seen of Xbox live that won't be too much of an issue... But the other problem is what about when the next gen comes around, and I don't buy the Xbox 720? But the harddrive for my 360 dies, somehow. How long would the servers stay up for afterwards for my games to stay safe?

    Also, on that issue aswell, what if I don't buy 360 now, but then get one second hand next gen... I might well miss out on some great games that before hand I might of been able to ebay, but now can't even get at all thanks to servers dying...

    Now I don't expect microsoft to kill their servers too quickly, but I would expect that at somepoint most companies would stop having DD for consoles that aren't being profitable enough for them.
  6. Avatar Z

    Avatar Z Well-Known Member

    One thing I really, really like about digital distribution:

    The games are available in infinite quantities. No rushing to the store to get your pre-order in for Super Hyped Title That Sells Out On Day One. No paying hundreds of dollars on eBay to get Super Rare Awesome Game simply because you didn't buy it shortly after the release date (damn you, Atlus!).

    Also, no "your disc got scratched = you're fucked"

    @ link6616, I imagine that the XBL marketplace would carry over to the Xbox 720 as well, and that you would be able to download HD Remix, for example, if you didn't buy it during the 360 era. Well, at least that's how I would have it happen, since that would make sense.

    ~Z
  7. Claytus

    Claytus Well-Known Member

    I still have games sitting around on 5.5 inch disks... great lot of use those are these days, right?

    This argument seems to come up a lot... and while on the hand you do have a point, particularly in the legal sense that DD items are usually selling you a technically revokable license. On the other hand... no physical media is actually permanent anyway. Even CDs become unreadable after a good 15-20 years.
  8. daniel c w

    daniel c w Member

    In addition to all the reasons mentioned above me, I fail to understand, why being able to touch something is important for games or software in general?

    I like the idea of touching a controller when playing a game, though.


    BTW: my first posting here, it's a great forum :D
  9. Cinnamon

    Cinnamon New Member

    I disagree. I think there will always need to be physical copies of information in some medium or another. If not for accessibility (no matter what devices you own, you can always, always, pick up a book), than perhaps as just a "standard" so you can be sure that e-book being sold isn't altered from the original.

    I thought just now (a first); how will mostly-digital media affect how history records us? Things can be created just as easily as they can be deleted, and major websites can quickly vanish without a trace. Before, there were clues like artifacts or letters to learn history, what are we leaving behind for people 500 years down the road?
  10. Logo

    Logo Well-Known Member

    Well that's why we have archive.org isn't it? It is an interesting question though.

    As for my preference, I enjoy digital when possible. It's easier to obtain and easier to store. It's also much faster. My decision to buy to playing time of Braid was about 1 hour. There's no way a physical copy can compete with that turn around time.
  11. Claytus

    Claytus Well-Known Member

    I agree with you in regards to books specifically. But for games you already need a console, or a computer or whatever to make use of the information. So, I don't think that really applies to the OPs question.
  12. BombsOverBaghdad

    BombsOverBaghdad New Member

    I like Digital Distribution for it's obvious pros but I'll be damned if it takes over the whole business model for consoles (from a consumers perspective). That's too much power to the gaming industry in one that's already nickel-and-diming everything we DL and that's starting to abuse this business model (Capcom anyone?). The used videogame market will die and the power to sell or trade-in individual games that you bought as a consumer is gone because the game will be stuck on your hard drive. Want to borrow a game or let your friend borrow a game? Fuck no you cannot unless you give him your HD along with all your 20 games. Looking to buy a used game or at a bargain bin? Sorry you have to buy a brand new version at full price from X company along with it's DLC that was purposely held back at release so these software companies make maximum profits.
  13. Sirlin

    Sirlin Steward of the Realm Staff Member

    So you are against unreasonable abuse of power in distributing digital software? Great, I'd hope all non-horrible people would be.

    Dreamhost's files forever service has the right idea. You can sell any digital files through it and the buyer gets the ability to download it unlimited times forever to as many machines as he or she wants. You can even loan it to your friends. There's basically a virtual "key" to your file, just one key, you can loan it to a friend (he can downlaod the file over and over as long a he has the key). When he's done, you get the key back from him and now you can download it over and again forever. You can loan to as many people as you like, one at a time. Oh, and the service does NOT allow any DRM files at all (nice!).

    Hopefully Adam smith's invisible hand will save us. If one company offers horrible distribution with unfair restrictions and another offers something like files forever (which is actually BETTER than getting it off a torrent!), then let's hope the right one wins in the market.
  14. FMJaguar

    FMJaguar Administrator

    The idea that your physical copy translates to ownership is more marketing than reality, similar to how everyone translated a home loan to ownership, and are now finding out that they really didn't own as much as they thought.

    Those of us that bought games for older systems are, for the most part, forced to rebuy those games on newer consoles anyway.

    This also means that game companies are less hesitant to open the source or licensing because they feel that there is a market for the same game on a newer proprietary console.

    While the negatives of physical distribution are 'features' built into the model, the negatives of digital distribution could easily be solved if it was the model.

    Take the music industry for example, Apple had to make several concessions to get the music onto it's store, but once it started dominating the market it continually fought the industries demands for more money and no improvement, and AFAIK, all of their music now has a DRM free version on the same store.

    When we adopt digital distribution, then we can start to bring some changes to the pricing:

  15. daniel c w

    daniel c w Member

    I am sorry, for being out of the loop, but what exactly are you talking about? (Capcom especially)
  16. link6616

    link6616 Well-Known Member

    my thoughts too.
  17. Cinnamon

    Cinnamon New Member

    Given that I am the OP, Digital Distribution is more widespread than just buying games, AND I was responding to Sirlin (who was talking about digital books) I think we can let it slide.

    ...Or we'll be paying the same price because it's the price range we're used to and to developers it's free money.
  18. sage

    sage Well-Known Member

    For the immediate present, that's true I guess. Steam is already giving piles of discounts on a regular basis and it's working out. We can only hope this trend gets picked up in the future.
  19. Claytus

    Claytus Well-Known Member

    I would take it a step further and say that Steam has already proven that premise wrong. They simply made more money when they sold things at a lower price point, and they're going out of their way to point it out to anyone who will listen. It's going to take a bit of time to see actual changes in the marketplace, but I doubt the status quo is going to survive too much longer.

    (Not to mention that Steam's limited time discount system is essentially completely infeasible when using a retailer to resell items...there's no way to logistically manage it. Which means that DD is pretty solidly winning on the pricing front at the moment, possibly even if you count resales, though that depends on how long someone waits before reselling, of course...)
  20. SpicyCrab

    SpicyCrab Well-Known Member

    After using Impulse I can only wish steam a quick and clean death.
    Steam seems decent until you see how perfectly Impulse runs. If I could help it I would never use Steam again.
  21. Logo

    Logo Well-Known Member

    Any specifics about why Impulse is better? I haven't had cause to use it yet and I've also never really had problems with Steam. So I'm curious what Impluse does better.

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