The Benefits Of Still Buying Physical Retail Games

Sure it’s horrible, outdated, and abusive to both the employees and the customer, but it’s still kind of nice.

News recently broke about GameStop’s ‘Circle of Life’ policy, and of how the employees of America’s largest game retailer are encouraged to lie and push used games and preorders in fear of losing their jobs. Add to this the increasing ease of digital storefronts and bonuses for buying online and one may wonder what the whole point of still buying from a physical retailer is. Well, there are still a good number of benefits.

For one, there’s still a pedigree of technical quality to buying a disc release. Even if it is more common these days, everyone should feel safer buying a physical game. The great PC game crapshoot where you boot up a game, hope it works, and then are consumed by error messages, is by no means a thing of the past. At least when you buy physical, you don’t have to hack into the matrix and save Neo before you get to play (Usually).

But, there are digital storefronts for consoles, and these have their own benefits. They combine the ease of use of Steam with the technical reliability of buying a console game. The only problem is that the people who run these services are ridiculous in their handling of them. You might have incredible high speed internet, but at one point or another, odds are that you have run into the painfully slow download times of PSN and Xbox Live. A download that may take an hour at most on Steam could be a whole day, or even several on these services.

And of course there’s the sheer sentimental value of buying a game that is yours. I still pride having my copies of Resident Evil 4 on my PS2, and my original Xbox copy of Max Payne. Unfortunately, you don’t get that with a digital store or account. You buy something and it feels like they are loaning it to you. You will push “play” and be met with a message telling you that the product you’ve paid for and installed isn’t available right now. It’s a small issue, for certain, but it’s still something that I haven’t encountered on disc.

Physical Retail Games

Finally, and this might not be for everyone reading this but it matters to me. For some people, digital storefronts aren’t possible. I see the PC Master Race people praising the all-digital future, and calling for physical retailers to stop, or abandoning consoles completely. The problem is, without physical retail, some people don’t get to play.

Chances are, if you’re reading this, you live somewhere with high quality, fast internet. Congratulations, you’ve got my envy. I, and many other gamers, live in places where quality internet is sparse, or even nonexistent. The American South hasn’t exactly reached the 21st Century yet, and downloading games is a rather hefty task for a lot of us. I play games mostly unpatched, and if it weren’t for a rather high quality laptop, I wouldn’t play PC games at all. Some don’t even have that.

There are still numerous benefits to being able to buy physical, and I want for people to understand that a lot of us don’t want our retailers to disappear. Otherwise we don’t get to be gamers anymore.

Spiderman JPEG from Pretty Good Gaming

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