In many ways, owning digital products is the better alternative in today’s world. There is a certain convenience you simply cannot get with a collection of physical copies. Owning games is by no means an exception. I do not miss the days of PlayStation 2 when you had to own an enormous pile of discs. Not to mention having to search for the game you wanted to play and switching the discs.
Growing up, I used to be a big fan of owning a physical copy of everything. Video games, books and movies always seemed better when you could actually feel the object in your hands. “I own this, and this has value to me”, I thought. That was the real thing for me, and maybe I was kind of a collector. I could come up with all the reasons in the world to persuade myself about the superiority of physical products. Today, I think the top reasons for not going digital are the following.
- Resale value: You could always sell the physical copy to someone, right? Cannot do that with a digital copy.
That’s it. There is absolutely no other reason whatsoever to buy a physical copy for me anymore. Well, I never sold the items, and now that they are outdated their utility is mostly limited to gathering dust and taking space. Selling a physical item is tedious, as you will need to find a buyer, agree on the details and ship the product. As an adult, I’ve somewhat been able to let go of this love of the physical material. Of course, streaming services like Netflix and Spotify, and game subscriptions like PlayStation Plus have made it easier to do so. But mainly it has to do with changes in my mentality and some of the constraints in my life.
The joy of having less stuff
The more I think about it, the more the principles of minimalism resonate with me nowadays. The Minimalists summarise it as follows: “Minimalism is a tool to rid yourself of life’s excess in favor of focusing on what’s important—so you can find happiness, fulfillment, and freedom.” Most notably you can see it in the physical objects you own, but it applies to everything else as well. Consider relationships, habits and social media. There is excess in all of these. For me, minimalism it comes down to convenience.
When we have fewer things we are able to dedicate more of our time to where we actually want to spend it. Maintaining physical items always costs something, be it money or time. You could argue it does not take a lot of time to switch the game disc in your console when you want to play something else. Or to dust your game collection when it has gathered enough dust. And you would be absolutely right in saying so. However, when we have excess in all parts of our life the effect multiplies. Keeping everything in order can suddenly become a chore which takes considerable time and effort.Excess in a single aspect of life is manageable. When the contamination spreads things get tricky. Click To Tweet
Another benefit of getting rid of things in our household is that we are able to keep the apartment clean without much effort. It is much easier to keep our digital collections in order than it is physical collections. And they don’t gather dust. Digital platforms have tools to arrange, search and access just the book, game or song we happen to want at the moment. So effortless.
Even if I wanted to have a physical copy of everything, I could not afford to store it all anymore. Plus my girlfriend would probably hate me for stuffing our 35 square meter apartment with games and books. We would have to get a bigger place or storage space, which would cost us more. In my post about adversarial growth, I talked about being a perfectionist. Perfectionism sometimes wants to manifest in the form of collecting as well, and if I started collecting all the games, books and everything else I get excited about, we would have a problem.
The bigger picture
We all saw this coming. Owning digital products is better for the environment! It saves in the raw materials required to manufacture an item. It saves energy, transportation, and storage required in the manufacturing and supplying the goods. And it saves in storage costs of the individuals as well. Digital download or streaming service requires an internet connection and a storage device, which are rather energy-efficient and durable these days.
Video game industry news site gamesindustry.biz reports 30 to 45% of games sold in the UK are now digital. This is up considerably from the previous years, so it would seem more and more gamers are going for the convenience of digital products. I would imagine the percentage is only going up, as it is a lucrative direction for the companies as well. They will likely come up with more ways to encourage consumers in that direction.
I know us gamers traditionally tend to prefer physical copies and collectibles over the digital counterparts. For some of us, they can bring joy, and I’m not here to judge. My game collection nowadays is mostly digital, and I haven’t looked back. What about you? Do you have thoughts on digital vs. physical? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter!