So here’s something weird: It’s almost 10 months since the PS5 was released, and I have not yet bought or even hold a physical PS5 game. I have many PS5 games, but they are all digital. Compared to all previous consoles I have owned, this feels so weird. But that’s not so surprising either.
I was looking to buy some birthday presents for my boyfriend, and because we are still living in the age of covid, it meant browsing Amazon and other online stores. Because these stores record all my data and keep it for later, they quickly started suggesting that I buy things like Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart or Return. Both are PS5 games. But Amazon offered physical copies, and that was when it hit me: I do not have a PS5 disc or box. And I do not think I will do it now.
I’m lucky to have got a PS5 at launch. Since then, I’ve played a lot of games. Most of them I paid for out of my own pocket because I’m not cool enough to go through all our PS5 games. (And I do not have enough time for that.) But every game I buy, I have bought digitally. Ironically, I own the more expensive PS5 that comes with a Blu-ray drive. But the only thing I’ve used it for is playing some PS4 games.
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All these months later, after getting a PS5, I have not even touched a physical PS5 game box. Partly due to covid-19, for sure. I do not go to the store except as often as before. But it’s also because it’s become so easy to buy games digitally that I do not even think about it. When I want a game, I just find it in the store and buy it. My credit card is connected to my account, and a few seconds later it is downloaded. Hell, I can even do all that over the phone while I’m away from my console. Convenience has basically pushed me away from physical media at this point.
In addition to Game Pass over on Xbox, I never buy new, large Microsoft exclusives anymore because I only get access to them at no extra cost. So the odds are I’ll never buy a physical Xbox Series X / S game anytime soon.
By comparison, I bought a PS4 game before the console was smooth. Back in 2013, I went to a local Gamestop and bought Battlefield 4. I had a pre-ordered PS4 soon, and was excited about the idea of finally owning a PS4 game, even though I did not have the opportunity to play it. (Younger Zack lived a boring life.)
Now, in 2021, there’s a very real chance that I’ll end this console generation without ever buying a physical game. Which again, very strange. But not so shocking. This is the direction video games have been heading for for many years now. You can buy a PS5 without a disk drive. Same with the new Xbox consoles. The age of physical media may not be over, but you can probably see the end if you have a telescope.
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And while part of me fears an all-digital world and is grateful that people are still buying physical games, another part of me is just over it. Maybe it’s too cynical to look at the world and not be worried about having access to my games in 20 years, but yeah, I’m not sure I think of games in 20-30 years as Climate change continues to worsen and capitalism is constantly destroying.
And if I in 20 years (hopefully) errors and things improve around the world, and all the servers are dead and gone, feel free to laugh at me, physical media lovers.