Physical copies of games might soon be a thing of the past, at least according to Frontier Developments CEO David Braben. Said Braben, "We've seen an acceleration in the transition from physical to digital. That is a good thing. It's probably two to three years before physical more or less goes away, and it [the pandemic] has probably accelerated that timescale a bit." It makes sense. Massive games can be downloaded onto your console's hard drive just as effectively as buying those games up at the store, and without the risk of catching a deadly disease from the Typhoid Mary or Gary that's minding the Walmart counter.
What does this mean for us? Well, pretty much nothing if you're a normal consumer of video games. However, let's add an extra emphasis on the word "normal" because there are going to be plenty of weirdos who turn this into the next vinyl/ VHS craze. Seriously, is anyone going to be surprised in four years when a guy in a wool coat and a pointy beard pulls out the cartridge for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate and insists you play it because "You can really hear the grooves."
We won't be and we won't even bother to roll our eyes when that same guy brags that he can "better see the static on the TV" using his disc version of Skyrim. Does it make sense that there would be any discernable difference between the physical and the digital copy of a game? Probably only in that the physical copy can more easily be damaged, but don't tell that to the uprising of hipsters who will swear up and down that, "trust me, the frame rate is 1/60 per second better."
The truth though is there is something special about getting the physical copy of a game. I imagine that giving your child a download code for their birthday doesn't compare to watching them tear into the wrapping paper and seeing their faces light up as they gaze at the beautiful box art of the latest Halo. Of course, I don't have kids, so I'm going to be downloading my games without bothering with any trips to the store or paying for shipping fees, but if you want to be the next generation of vinyl nerds or VHS purists, then hey, I salute you. Just don't expect me to smile as you start licking the denatonium off your Switch cartridge because "it's part of the authentic experience, man."
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Top Image: Bungie