Looking At The Increasingly Digital-Locked Future Of Gaming

The world of gaming continues to be increasingly big business, with the crossover appeal bigger than ever thanks to things like the Super Mario Bros Movie. However, with the increasing success of the space also comes and increased desire for growth form the company. That, combined with an increasing amount of gamers who download their games from one of the many storefronts, some are beginning to be concerned that we’re moving towards a space where physical games are less and less common, and more consoles and gaming spaces move to a digital-only space.

Digital is by far the most popular way to buy games

Before we jump to the conclusion that the push towards digital storefront-supremacy is purely driven by greedy publishers or console manufacturers, we have to recognize this is a conundrum that we, the gamers have created. In 2022 alone, over 90% of all game sales were digital. While the average gamer, those who only look towards the big blockbusters, not to mention parents buying for kids, might still prefer to simply pay for a product in hand, those who do most the gaming have become majority digital players.

The digital only consoles

PC gamers might have been used to running digital only for a while, with most modern PCs not even coming with a disk-tray. However, it’s relatively new phenomenon in the console space. Sony is already embracing the idea full-on, with their digital-only PS5 being the first of its kind to release to such a wide audience. There’s nothing to say that Nintendo and Microsoft might be eyeing a similar direction and launching digital-only versions of their next consoles. Taking it even further, at some point, digital-only might be the only method for certain consoles.

The ghost of delisted games

Games get delisted from digital platforms, which makes them a problem for the idea of archival and preservation. Only recently, Pac-Man 99 and Marvel’s Avengers, two big IPs, had their games delisted. Licensed games are especially prone to this, as the rights agreements can run out over the years. This is increasingly forcing gamers to turn to the best Torrent clients to find those games that are no longer sold anywhere. A big concern for the majority of gamers who might not be comfortable downloading outside of official storefronts.

Changing history

If something gets removed from the storefront, it’s a loss for many, but those who bought the game typically get to keep it. One of the changes that is making people a lot more concerned is that storeholders can, technically, remove licenses to games and stop players from playing it entirely. Or, in the case of Destiny 2, they may change the game to the point that old content simply isn’t accessible anymore. In a world where on-disc installed games might not be a thing in the future, it could make some gaming experiences entirely inaccessible.

Many gamers already find themselves in a digital-only space, but there are increasing concerns of what happens when the enjoyers of the media and preservers of the art find themselves without any avenues to look back at the past if they can’t access it.

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