You don’t buy video games, you buy IOUs


Although video games have clearly evolved into a digital medium, there remains a segment of consumers who still buy physical discs, but more specific language is needed for these products, as they are generally “validation discs”, not real “game discs” in the traditional way. meaning, the most recent example being Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2. For PC gaming fans, the shift to digital purchases is more universal, as storefronts like Steam have almost entirely replaced physical PC disc sales. Some consumers haven’t made the adjustment and continue to buy discs for modern Xbox and PlayStation consoles. Unlike previous generations of consoles where a game’s data was entirely housed in a physical cartridge or disc, modern games are downloaded via the Internet to a console’s hard drive.

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Fans noted modern warfare 2The physical disk of is almost blankwith only 70 MB of data, while the actual game size is close to 150 GB. Some deride this practice, calling these products “dummy disc“, but a disc acting purely as a cumbersome validation key is simply the reality of modern gaming, although the lexicon describing such products should be adjusted accordingly. For consumer home consoles, the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 era was a time of transition. Disc-based gaming was still largely the norm, but since these consoles had built-in hard drives, digital purchases through the systems’ respective storefronts provided another option. The next generation made the transition entirely, as each Xbox One and PlayStation 4 game needed to be installed on the hard drive to work. As of this generation, the discs largely serve as a method of validating access, and a more inconvenient method than simply purchasing the game through an account .

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Physical editions benefit collectors who display them, but discs are keys, not games

Physical Disco Elysium special edition, which includes the game, an art book, a map of the game world, a statue, and more.

The modern warfare 2 example attracted attention, but GTA: The Trilogyit is city ​​of vice large download required also on Switch. With massive day one patches as standard, even discs that contain a version of a game remain little more than validation keys. There are still instances where an unpatched version of the game on a disc can be installed and played on a modern console without connecting to the internet, but these are increasingly rare. For consumers in areas with poor internet connections or service providers with prohibitive data caps, the ability to install from disc instead of downloading a large file would be beneficial, but it’s not not the function of current “game discs”.

There are still valid arguments for selling records, but the vernacular surrounding them needs to change to honestly reflect what they provide. For collectors, owning a record in a box gives them something to display. Some of them make great conversation starters, like Disco Elysium: Final Cut »s $250 Physical Collector’s Edition. Consumers who are still in the habit of selling games after finishing them can do so with validation discs, and those who buy used titles on the secondary market also have options there. Those who regularly lend games to friends or family members, or who trade games, can continue the practice with validation discs, which is not an option with an account purchase.

Some buy discs due to a mistaken ideal of game preservation. With few modern validation discs hosting a version of the game playable without logging in or downloading online, they’d be better off just buying the game digitally and avoiding disc swap issues. When it comes to modern consoles, with a few exceptions, digital ownership is the same as owning a disc except for the ease of switching between games. Despite this, some physical games are selling well, such as the Scott Pilgrim massive physical sales of the game after its reissue.

Until the discs are gone they should be called validation discs, not video game discs

The Xbox Series S, which doesn't have a disc drive.

Even when a digital game is no longer sold through an online storefront, those who purchased it when it was available can almost always redownload the game once it is no longer available for purchase, which which makes owning a disk unnecessary. For consumers who sell games or regularly buy used copies, or those who give or give away their games to friends, there is always some merit in buying a validation disc. Based on the popularity of the PlayStation 5 Digital Edition and Xbox Series S, many more game fans have already switched from discs. Until discs completely disappear from games, it is better to call them what they are, because these – as is the case with modern warfare 2 – are validation key discs, not video game discs.

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