Siliconera Speaks Up: The Downloadable Future


2009 is here and truly, we are at the apex of technology. Broadband is finally available to the majority of gamers, which helps the popularity of digital downloads. Let’s not get into the DLC controversy, but what do you think about digital downloads? Yay or nay? Do you prefer the space-saving digital downloads, or do you prefer having that physical game box in your hand?


Jenni: I like having the actual physical game box and CD/DVD. I’ve gone through so many computers due to problems or updating, and I like having the actual physical item to fall back on. It may sound silly, but I’m always worrying with my direct download games that I’ll forget to backup the installation program or that there will be some sort of copyright or protection that will prevent the game from being played on multiple systems.

I also like having an instruction book nearby. I never take the time to read instructions before I start playing, but once I begin a game I like to know it’s there next to me in case there are control troubles or some kind of error pops up.


Ishaan: For PC games and portable games, digital all the way. Given how expensive PCs can be, relatively, I would expect using one for playing games to be as convenient as possible. This means being allowed to do a full install of every game and being able to run it off of the hard disk without having to swap disks every single time. PCs come with large hard disks, and PC games need to take advantage of this, just as they always have.

Handhelds are meant to be played on the go, so digital in that regard , too. Ideally, I would like the ability to be able to buy a cartridge or UMD and copy the game over to my DS or PSP. However, I would also like the ability to just buy that game digitally at a cheaper price point. Outside the realm of PC and handheld gaming, I prefer a physical copy any day. I like being able to buy collector’s editions of my favourite games that come with cool artbooks in a nice, thick box with a colourful manual. It makes me feel like it got my money’s worth.


Louise: I for once, welcome our digital downloaded overlords. When Steam first came out, I was vehemently against it thinking it would be too easy to lose games due to reformatting. But now that it’s been out for several years, and I’ve started building my PC game collection with it, I realized how convenient it is to have everything on a digital bookshelf.

I do like the feel of having an actual game box in my hand, but after packing and unpacking for moves, the less physical things I have to pack up, the better. I always think that I’ll need a game’s manual, or I’ll want to keep the box to look at its cover-art, but I usually just stick it in a bookshelf and never look at it till I have to move again.

With online-cataloging sites like Raptr which lets you build a digital bookshelf of what you own, I don’t actually need the physical box to look at anymore. Instead of standing in front of a shelf and saying, “Hm….what game should I play?” I can just log into my account, look at my collection and say, “Hm….what game should I play?”

One thing I would like to see as more companies offer digital downloads, is to see a reduction in MSRP of games since I’m not buying a box, manual, cartridge, or shelf-space in GameStop.


Spencer:I’m all for digital downloads! Platforms like Xbox Live Arcade, WiiWare, and PlayStation Network opened the door for games that wouldn’t be available otherwise. Stores might not stock smaller titles like Flower, Pole’s Big Adventure or E4: Every Extend Extra Extreme, but downloadble games don’t have to worry about shelf space. Retail games like Siren: Blood Curse wouldn’t even be available here if it wasn’t for digital downloads. A good middle ground for people that enjoy having their games on physical media are combo packs like the PixelJunk 3in1 Pack which Sony released in Asia. Sony, Nintendo, and Microsoft can ask users to vote on which games they want to see in a compilation, take pre-orders, and directly ship discs out. While we haven’t seen any WiiWare games in stores, WiiWare games can be put on a retail disc.

Louise Yang