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Physical versus digital copies of media.


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Being the age that I am, I have experienced quite a huge and drastic shift in media during 80's to now 2020.

Back then, there was practically no digital media beyond stuff you installed on your PC (with only DOS on it) and even then you had a very small selection of stuff to play and hard disc drive space to install it on. Furthermore, there was no plug & play either and each game you had to manually set up every detail about sound- and graphics card. Basically, it was a minor project to do almost anything with a computer. Still, it was great fun and I would play the same stuff over and over again (I am looking at you Duke Nukem 1!).
After floppy discs (which really WERE floppy), the more common known ones came and then CDs, all the way up to DVDs. Up to that point it was pretty much all physical stuff and it felt great and fun to have your collection like that.

This is where the real topic begins though.

Back then you had fewer games, but they seemed to last much longer, be played a lot more often and for longer periods of time. The most common ways to get new stuff was forking out money in a store to get more and of course through gifts.

Now a days, my gaming library is bursting with TONS of games and even many of them still Triple A games with hours of fun still in them. I have many I have yet to play and thus tons of opportunities to even more hours of entertainment. Do I play many of them or complete many of them? No, not really.

For the past several years, I feel like my focus has completely tanked in regards of what to play, for how long and how many times. I go from one to another all the time, but not at all going through from start to end in most of them and the last game I recall playing fully through is probably Fallout 4.

I am not if the shift came because of the much bigger variety of and access to even more games has something to do with this or what may be the cause. I am not even sure this is a common thing at all.

What are your thoughts?

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  • 2 months later...

It looks like there's not much discussion in this sub-forum comparatively, but what the heck, this is a topic I've thought about quite a bit myself.

The shift to digital has been an interesting one whose acceleration I think can be attributed to both Steam and Netflix, though it's still kicking and screaming in the console market. I'm not sure how total Blu-Ray sales are doing these days so I can't say for sure if digital film and television ownership is down, but I imagine it will become more of a collector's thing soon enough if it isn't that already. Whether this is a good thing or not will likely depend from person to person.

Myself, I don't have shelf space at the moment and so I can't be adding many discs to my collection, so unless there's special exception (a Limited Run edition of an indie I absolutely adore getting a physical release), I have been buying digital. But I'm not really wholly comfortable with that as there are plenty of games, even physical ones, that the likes of Microsoft haven't added to their backwards compatibility or digital titles that have been removed from online market places. Netflix has demonstrated that loss of a license means movies can come and go. With physical ownership, so long as you have the hardware you can play that old game or film. With digital, you are at the whim of the service and the servers.

For most consumers, however, I imagine that an all-digital future will be beneficial, especially given the consumption driven nature of media these days. A side effect of a bunch of little gaming dweebs and geeks getting their own income and hording all the games they want that they couldn't when they were kids and thus relying on allowance, birthday money, and the generosity of parents to provide. Money may be in greater quantity, but time sure isn't, and thus you go from game to game to game rather than replaying what fewer titles you got and mastering them like when you were a kid. Netflix itself is all about that "binge culture" and encourages you to move from show to show. Why own something, why rewatch it, when there's all this new stuff to enjoy? So in time you're probably going to see physical media vanish entirely.

I don't think we'll get there as soon as a lot of tech geeks want to claim we will, but it's getting closer.

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