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As the industry of video games evolves, the question keeps coming up (at least in my mind).  Games are always changing in some way, shape or form.  Look at the current projects of Sony and Microsoft.  Sony has a new motion controller on the way, while Microsoft has Project Natal.  Now these are physical accessories to our beloved systems, they will have many games tagged onto them.  Will they come on a disc like I love so, or will they be download only?

The day I heard that Patapon 2 was coming out, I was extremely excited.  I loved Patapon 1, and still enjoy just popping in my UMD copy of the Patapon 1 demo.  Then the talk of Patapon 2 turned into it being the "guinea pig" for digital media.  Patapon 2 was set to become one of the first digital download only games on PSN.  This, as funny as it may sound, upset me quite a bit.  Here is a gamer, and a collector who is loyal to Sony being told that he won't be able to have a physical copy of a game like this.  The debate raged for a while, when finally a "compromise" was met.  The game would be released digital only, however they did release the UMD case with box art, instructions, and a little scratch card with your number.  Ok, thanks guys, you gave me a little bit of what I wanted.  Great game by the way.

My point here is that not only as a collector do I enjoy having the game to play, but having it sitting on my shelf proudly displayed is great too... of course this rolls the girlfriends eyes every now and again... oh well, she'll get used to it.

Let's explore some pros of having physical media

Box Art

I don't know about all of you, but some games impress me greatly just by how they look on the shelf.  One of my personal favorites is Bioshock.  The Big Daddy, the huge guy with the glowing face, being escorted by the Little sister, a creepy looking female child with glowing eyes and a needle, this appeals to me just looking at the cover.


Yes, I know, some download only games do come with instructions (I'll touch on that in the Pros of digital), but I enjoy having the book next to me in case I need a refresher when I first buy the game.  One of the other cool things about having the booklet is that you get to read up on some of the characters or the back story prior to putting the game in.  How about those great maps that we get with games like Grand Theft Auto?  Some of us like to use them while playing as a quick reference point to know where we are going.  I had the map of San Andreas up on the wall while I was playing. When buying a game to add to my collection, unless it's uber rare, it must have case, box art, instructions, and of course, disc.


The maps we just spoke of are one example.  How many of us have the cloth map that came with Lunar?  The hardbound instruction book?  The soundtrack?  All kinds of things like this come with collectors editions.  Check out the Lunar coming out for PSP.  The limited edition comes with a soundtrack, and "bromide" cards that illustrate the girls of Lunar.  I think those are pretty cool for a collector and have it on pre order already!  It's out soon!  If this game was digital only I doubt that any company would release the game only to have to actually mail you your collectors material or your pre order "prize."

Aside from the aspect of losing out on collectibles like the pre order bonuses you get, we would also lose the ability to show off our collection.  What looks more impressive, the list on your computer screen or the cases out in the open.  I guess that depends on who you're talking to (see girlfriend reference up top lol).  If you haven't seen the collection of PS1 games on the Sony PS1 Forum ( then do it.  Go find photos of collections and look at Dangerboy's.  It's almost shocking at how much the guy has.  Claims to have every variant ever made.

Now I'm very bias here, so the only real cons I can see right now when it comes to having physical media are these


Keeping those discs in good shape can be a challenge for some people.  I myself have put a scratch or 2 in some cherished games just by dropping them accidentally when pulling them out of the system.  The preservation of the cases can be tough with the old plastic jewel cases of the PS1 as well.  They seem to break just by opening them sometimes.


Yes, our beloved collections take up quite a bit of shelf space, or room space depending on how much you have.  Storage can be a big deal for those of us stuck in 1 bedroom apartments.

All of that being said, the benefits of digital media are here as well


Put yourself in the shoes of a big wig at any of our developers.  You have a game such as flOw for the PSP.  It sells on the PSN for something like $7.99 US when it comes out.  You have 100 people download this you make yourself $799 in theory.  Now let's say you release this for $20 as a UMD release.  Yes, you have 100 people buy it at that cost, you get $2000 in theory.  Big number, until you factor in the cost of packaging it, printing it, illustrating box art and instructions, etc...  Would that work out to benefit the company or not, I don't know, but it's just a point I thought of.

This can also benefit us as consumers making our games less money to purchase.  There are games, however, like Grand Theft Auto Chinatown wars which is $40 to download (ridiculous), but this one can be purchased as physical media.

How about those PSP Mini's?  I'll admit that I have a few of them.  Those little releases that cost us under $5 in some cases can be quite entertaining, and are nowhere near big enough to be placed on a UMD.


Pro, no boxes to keep.  Instructions at the click of a button in the start menu.  I'll touch on this as a con as well.


You somehow corrupt your downloaded game!  OH NO!  Oh, wait..  just redownload it.  Nothing to scratch, nothing to break.

Now for some cons

No collectors editions or extras

I doubt that a company will release limited editions of download only games.  If they did, it would probably be an extra level or 2.  Yay...


Memory cards.  Space.  Yep, some games are pretty big.  Buying multiple mem cards for your psp can be expensive!  Granted that in a few years we will probably have 10 Terabyte cards the size of your thumb nail, but not yet, and not affordable either even if we did.  And keeping track of those cards can suck too.

Used games

No more going to EB or Gamestop to buy your games used!  I would miss picking up a PS2 game I have been after for $5.00 at EB.

Keep in mind that this is all my opinion, or rant if you will.  Your opinion may be different, and if that's the case, I'd love to hear it!

I'm all for physical media, how about you?

Happy Gaming!