Downloadable Games: The Future or the Past?

We all like instant gratification in videogames, whether it’s a game with tons of easy achievements and unlockables or an instantly empowering multiplayer component, but sometimes a few minor hitches can really ruin a whole experience. 

Downloadable titles aren’t necessarily a new form of media, (Steam for example has been around for about nine years now) but they’re becoming more prevalent in mainstream gaming. With the advent of full games being allowed for download, what could be a possible downside to this glorious lack of leaving the couch?

Let’s take a look at some pro’s to this situation:
-A gamer can install and play a title within ten to fifteen minutes at a relatively cheap(er) cost than typical retail titles are sold for
-There are often sales that reduce the prices of each content package by a huge percentage
-Games often include micro-transactions to bolster sales (Usually in free to play games like LoL)
-Titles are often bundled together (with other dlc) ready to go at reduced prices
-Unknown and Indie developers can display their games to a larger audience 

Now all that sounds really great but there are definitely cons to the issue as well:
-You must be online to access some of these titles/dlc (Xbox Live has this particular problem with certain games)
-If you regret a purchase, you’re stuck with the game. There are NO returns or refunds.
-Many games are overpriced and stay that way for long periods of time
-The dollar per hour value of many downloadable titles is significantly lower than expected
-Replay value is also lowered by the lack of content in some games

More recently I’ve found myself downloading titles simply because they’re fun and easy to get. However, I’m usually dissuaded by the lack of a return or trade policy concerning them. If an online content provider could include some kind of “credit” system, I think there would be a greater shift towards downloads. 

Jevrio's picture

-If you regret a purchase, you’re stuck with the game. There are NO returns or refunds.

That's where piracy comes into the picture. Haters gonna hate.

Jigramut's picture

That's very true. The only downside is a lack of achievements or whatnot but to be honest, I'd rather not risk pirating too much. 

explicit_baron's picture

I personally dislike and don't buy digital games except on STEAM, only through them because they are incredibly cheap. I think people will always want some physical copy of a game so you can put on a shelf, take it to a friend's house or just look at the actual game. I do agree downloadable games are great but, they are digital and you don't really own them. For example if your computer or console breaks you don't have the actual game, it goes with your broken system. I would like to see more downloadable games bundled on to discs like the pixeljunk series and many other indie games, that's an option that should be offered even if it costs more. At the moment I don't trust anyone very much for downloadable games other than STEAM because of there cheap prices and seemingly good customer service. I've never spent more than $7.50 for a game on STEAM. 

Nice post.

Jigramut's picture

Hey thanks man. I agree wholeheartedly about the physical copy part. I don't think people realize how good it feels to truly own a game and cherish it. I can't remember how many times I'd read a game manual even if I hardly ever played the game it belonged to just because I had a hard copy of it. 

John Tarr's picture

You're strictly talking about XBLA and PC downloadable games in your post, and you don't mention iOS/Facebook games at all. iOS games have dramatically changed how people consume games. How many people do you know who play Words with Friends regularly that would never consider themselves a gamer?

Jigramut's picture

In a word, lots. I  agree that there are always new markets and exceptions to the old rule. Maybe I'm just a little biased considering that I'm not a huge "mobile gamer". To be honest, you're right. I didn't consider iOS/ facebook games or any new kind of media. They're easily accessible and addictive and remain at miniscule prices for their lifetimes. Yes, I should've made the title more clear but I still stand by what i've said about console and pc downloads. 

Anyway, thanks for your reply Beer_Baron, I'll keep a more open mind next time. 

Create New Account or Log in to comment