Game Developers Set On Becoming More Digital and Phase Out Physical Products

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By Richard Heaton

For decades, video games have been a staple of American entertainment. This year, game developers are taking the first major step in turning the industry into one that is digital-only.

What do I mean by the first step? Haven’t digital games and game streaming been around for years?

Yes, for years gamers had the ability to download games to their console or stream games through the use of different apps. But digital games always shared the spotlight with physical games. Even today, physical games are more prominent than digital ones.

Storage requirements, game price, and the need for a powerful internet connection made digital gaming possible only for wealthy gamers. You would need to buy extra hard drives and more powerful consoles in order to handle all the digital games you wanted to buy.

Since most data for physical games are stored on the disc or cartridge, less space is needed and the price for a physical game is almost always cheaper because of the need for stores to move inventory.

But now that’s changing because developers want to eliminate the middleman and make even more money. In the last month, both Sony and Microsoft have taken measures to completely eliminate physical games.

First, Microsoft unveiled a brand new Xbox One S. You guessed it, it’s digital only. It does not take physical games at all, so if you want this console and you already own physical Xbox One games, you need to re-purchase every single one of those games in digital form and at full price. Once you do that, all your physical copies will become worthless to you.

If this console is successful, there would be nothing stopping Microsoft from making all future consoles 100 percent digital.

What Sony has planned isn’t as drastic but still hurts. Right now, there are two ways to buy digital games. You can put your card info into the digital store and buy games, or you can go to a physical store and buy a gift card. You can walk into a Gamestop, Wal-Mart, Target, or wherever and buy a physical PlayStation gift card or a physical card with a code for any game.

The cards are great for people who want to pay with cash or are wary of having their info online and great to give as gifts. Sony wants to get rid of that.

As of April 1, Sony has banned the sale of all gift cards and game codes at physical retailers as well as online retailers such as Amazon and eBay.

Last year I worked at Gamestop and I would see nearly 100 gift cards and game codes bought every day. So while there is still definitely a huge demand for the cards and codes it looks that’s not what’s in store for the future.

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