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Old February 28th, 2012, 11:10 AM   #1
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Default Preference between digital copies and physical copies of games?

Yeah, it's a long post sorry.

Personally, I've always been a fan of associating games to one online identity since Steam was released. I like knowing that even if I lost my Half-Life case, serial, etc. That I could play my game on any computer (and possibly choose between Mac/PC).

I mean, I remember losing my Half-Life CD and having to repurchase the game before Steam was around and I always felt like I wasted my money, because I technically already paid the developer for the content that I wanted to play, but I accepted that it was my mistake. Also, then if you wanted a Mac version of any video game (if it existed) you had to purchase the game all over again for that specific OS.

Now with Steam you usually can play games that you may have bought on either platform (as long as it's available). This is also true with Blizzard games that you have registered with them. You can download WoW or SC II for either platform, and never worry about one day losing your $40-$60 investment.

Now to the topic at hand. Sony's Playstation store allows you purchase digital copies of games, which is associated with your PSN ID. An advantage to this is if you bought PSP games, then (if it's compatible) you can play that game on your PS Vita, because you already purchased a license for that intellectual property! This is great, because previously you always had re-purchase the same game at full price to play on your new hardware, but with digital downloads you can prove that you already bought the game.

Let's talk about physical retail copies now. The disadvantage to this would be like for those PSP owners that got screwed out of backwards compatibility of a game that they probably paid full price for, while the digital counterpart of that same game may be working on a Vita even now at no additional cost. I'm not blaming them for buying hard copies (I own more hard copies than digital), I'm just saying it sucks to be them.

However, there are advantages to physical games. The biggest one being discounts! Like at the time of this post, both Target and Amazon (which matched their deal) are offering a "buy 2 get 1 free" promotion for all Playstation Vita games. These kind of offers are fantastic and won't be found in the PSN Store. Granted the average Joe may question whether spending a minimum of $80 and sometimes $100 to obtain the third game is really a deal, but spending $100 is still better than spending $150 from the Playstation Store.

It's worth mentioning that physical copies also have resale value, while you may not get what you paid for it, you can recoup some financial gain from a title that you know you will NEVER play again. Having that option is nice.

Physical copies also won't use up as much space on your expensive proprietary Vita memory card (which means less money in buying a replacement or extra one). This also means less writing to an object that already has a finite life cycle. As someone who is majoring in computer science, the biggest advantage (to me) is the fact that the system isn't constantly reading and writing data to the memory card as much with a physical copy of the game, versus a digital copy. The reading and writing speed that is necessary to perform this operations, is part of the reason (at least according to Sony) that Sony made their memory cards proprietary, as most people would purchase the cheapest SD card, completely ignoring the type of "class" it actually is meant for. This could actually cause system instability, sluggishness, and crashes. (Whether you believe it or not, this is why many smartphones are sluggish.)

I guess the last thing that I want to touch on is that I left out that PSN downloads are supposed to the same price or 20% cheaper to download depending on things. And while I don't think this at all close enough to make it better than the deals retailers can offer with physical copies, I will say that it's worth noting that when I bought BlazBlue, I didn't have to pay state sales tax, which anyone who bought the FEB from a retailer can probably attest that tax does add up.

So what do you prefer? Is it all about price, or are there any other factors?

Last edited by Kakarot; February 28th, 2012 at 11:12 AM. Reason: Title Change
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Old February 28th, 2012, 04:57 PM   #2
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For myself there are three primary reasons (In no real order) that physical is better than digital.

#1: You actually own what your paying for.

You have the ability to sell it if you so choose, you have the ability to trade it if you so choose, either towards something else used, or towards something else new. You are actually the owner of the material, not just the game, but the package, the manuals and so on.

#2: Access to the media is on (the owners) terms.

When PSN went down, as I was using a 60GB fatty at the time, my PS3 was always full, so I would be constantly deleting games and redownloading stuff as it filled up, while it was a bit bothersom, I delt with it, no biggie. All my physical media worked no matter now full the PS3 was (other than installed game data of course) but PSN games would be swapped around quite frequently.

Then PSN went down, and yes I know it was a isolated inccident and not Sonys fault, I'm not blaming them, but it serves a point.

I lost access to nearly 200 PSN games I had purchased for the duration of the down time. Nothing to do with not taking care of my media, or anything else that was within my control, it was simply not available, so even though I "owned" the digital media, I did not have access to it.

Now as a second example, my cousins husband used to play PS3 (he was a dick, so I dont really care about this, but it also serves a point) he was banned from PSN for cheating on MW2. He was doing something, not sure what exactly it was but he was getting people to max rank in only a match or two, when he was caught, his PSN ID was banned, along with his credit card info and so on.

Now in this instance, he broke the rules and got banned, rightfully so I might add, however, he had made nearly 70 legit purchases of digital media from PSN, which he no longer had access to.

Content he "owned" that was taken away from him because he broke the PSN terms of service.

So thats something to take into account...the so-called "ownership" of digital media is based on a series of "rules" that you are required to follow, and not adhearing to those rules can result in your purchases, becoming forfit...legally, with no recourse you can take.

So someone else actually "owns" the digital media, you are simply buying a access pass to use that media, and you are granted permission, like a child asking for a cookie, to that media...unless something happens, like servers go down or something else, in which case, you dont have access to the media either way.

So, access with digital media is on someone elses terms and can be interupted or disabled at any time do to potential issues that may arise.

#3: Price.

Now I have to admit I buy ALOT of digital titles, but only when they were never released in physical format. PSN titles that never make it to disk for example.

But when a physical version is available, I ALWAYS buy the physical over the digital, not only for the other 2 reasons listed above, but because overall it is more cost effective to buy physical than digital.

I would say that 90%+ of the time, the physical media is cheaper than digital, even without taking into account the prices of memory storage requirements for digital media.

BOLT as a quick example on PSN, I just bought the game for my son last month...brand new, for $4.99.
PSN price is STILL...$19.99.

Not to long ago I also grabed several other games that are available on physical and digital, Bulletstorm, I paid $9.99 new - its $29.99 on PSN also Mortal Kombat VS DC Universe, I paid $7.99 new - PSN costs $19.99.
Prototype...I got that game several months ago brand new for $19.99, PSN price is still $29.99.

Now I know that its not possible for PSN prices to cover sales and price changes as they happen in real time, but as a average you can find virtually all the PS3 (and Vita) retail games sold on PSN cheaper in their physical media form...and actually own them, not just own a access pass that allows you to use them (which can be revoked).

So for myself, those three reasons alone are more than enough to stick with physical over digital, no matter the platform or console.
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Old February 29th, 2012, 12:52 AM   #3
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Ill personally only buy games in store as well for one i get staff discount where i work plus i like to trade/sell games once done with.
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Old February 29th, 2012, 08:48 AM   #4
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I jsut have something about having to have the physical copy. I feel like digital is too fluid and hard to hold on to. Same with my Music, movies, etc. I have to have everything possible on physical copy. Not to mention to resale value behind physical games. With so many games coming out, it's nice to be able to buy and sell, rather than just keeping things that I just don't have time to go back to after I get platinum.
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Old February 29th, 2012, 09:10 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by Wedge19 View Post
I jsut have something about having to have the physical copy. I feel like digital is too fluid and hard to hold on to. Same with my Music, movies, etc. I have to have everything possible on physical copy. Not to mention to resale value behind physical games. With so many games coming out, it's nice to be able to buy and sell, rather than just keeping things that I just don't have time to go back to after I get platinum.

But with music I prefer digital downloads.
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Old February 29th, 2012, 09:38 AM   #6
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My family and I have spent hundreds of dollars on the PSN since the time that we've had it and coming from my experience psychical is always better than digital and this is why.
My wife and ended up getting the PSP Go after the other PSP's that we have owned and loved, we travel around alot living in the middle of the woods two hours from the closest store and we like the small portable grab one thing fast and go idea.
Last week sometime I went to go transfer a game from my PS3 to my PSP Go and it said that I had to redownload all of that content that I bought for my system!
It's not that it's a big deal as it was all bought legit over time but it is very time consuming to redownload all of that stuff here it takes about an hour or more to download one game.
I don't know if it was some sort of security measure to see if I bought it all legit or whats going on but it's a shame.

It's the idea that digital content is fast to copy and move and easy store that is appealing to many including myself, I think.
It's nice being able to put photos/music/videos and games from the PSN on your portable and having them right there to play and watch whenever we want to rather than lugging around all the other stuff it would require to use all of that.
The problem is such as I've had that it can be lost or taken away at any time and there is nothing anyone can do about it.
The PSN went down before (which was not Sonys fault) but even still, gone with no way to access or redownload anything that you've bought and "owned".
When the PSN went down before I was stuck waiting for weeks to try to get new games that I wanted while people that were still using the older PSP models just went out and bought new psychical copy games that they wanted and we had the latest.
I'm not saying all digital is bad but just imagine if the PSN went down all togeather for a year or even indefinitely what then? everything you "own" is gone for good as well.

Thats why I'll stick with the psychical stuff and buy and use the digital stuff only if necessary from now on.
My advice is to also back up everything you care about any way you can just like some computers do, just in case.
Take care everyone and sorry for the long message, I'm new
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Old February 29th, 2012, 09:49 AM   #7
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i got so much digital content i don't have the space for it or don't play it , so for vita i'll prob stick with physical copy , and just download the sale items or non AAA titles

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Old February 29th, 2012, 01:07 PM   #8
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I usually prefer physical copies but I think with the Vita I'll end up buying more games from the PSN. I'm gonna use Gamefly for most of the retail releases that I want to play, I'm playing more of the games I've bought from the store so far than the only physical Vita game I have.

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Old March 2nd, 2012, 05:20 AM   #9
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I am only going to download games that you cannot get physically. That and some PSP games i never got around to playing. ^_^

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Old March 2nd, 2012, 05:52 AM   #10
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I like that new game smell. I'm always considered with making digital purchases. Don't like the idea that I can't have it physically.

I'm not saying I don't buy DLC or digital but when I do I want it to be the cheapest thing available. So if for whatever reason I can't access my digital content anymore its not a huge financial loss.
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cartridge, digital download, memory card, playstation vita, vita

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