Weekend Hot Topic: The last physical video game you bought

Readers reveal the last time they bought a physical video game and whether they’ve gone all digital or are still holding out.

The subject for this week’s Hot Topic was suggested by reader Rackham, who asked how you make the decision to buy physical or digital copies of games, and whether you miss always getting a box and disc.

Few people had gone 100% digital but most admitted that buying physical copies was getting less common, even if they do usually represent better value.

Digital policy
My policy on buying digital vs. physical is fairly straightforward. Since I can share digital copies with my brother I’ll consider buying digital for games I think we’re both interested in (although he doesn’t have a PlayStation 5 so all my PlayStation 5 purchases have been disc based so far).

Otherwise, it’s usually cheaper just to get the disc version as even when there’s a digital sale for games that get a retail release there’s often a similar or better price for the physical equivalent. Spider-Man: Miles Morales on PlayStation 5, at around £30, being my most recent disc purchase over Christmas.

It just means I can sell games on if I know there’s little chance of me going back to them when I’m done, something that’s fairly rare nowadays. Not that I’m always selling games or trading them in but every now and then I’ll have a little purge and get some cash back, which I obviously can’t do with digital copies that are often just permanently deleted to save storage space.

That said, the number of smaller indie style games I buy has been on the increase – especially with regular sales – so while I’ll default to physical for many games, the absence of a physical version means the majority of my purchases are probably still digital overall.
Panda

Cheap choice
Only this week I purchased a physical copy of Doom Eternal for £10, brand new, from GAME. On the PlayStation Store it was £55.

When I finish it CeX will currently buy it off me for £5 cash. I have already more than recouped the additional cost of my disc version PlayStation 5 with similar deals.

I won’t be going all digital anytime soon and appreciate having a choice as to how and where I purchase my games.

Competition is a good thing, despite what Microsoft think!
AjH

Family gaming
I have to say I had stopped buying physical games on my Switch quite some time ago… until this Christmas when I bought both of my kids Switch Lites and then discovered the abomination that is Nintendo’s family policy. Why games companies can’t emulate Apple or Amazon in terms of a family unit and allow sharing of purchases is absolutely beyond me.

So (and yes I know there are other ways around it but it’s a huge issue with three Switches and two children and me being away for the odd week), I now have three copies of Splatoon and Mario Kart 8. I’ve got two copies of Animal Crossing (though I’ve lost ‘our’ island to my daughter’s Switch) and I bought Metroid Dread as a physical copy and Pokémon 3.

I had been looking to get a digital-only PlayStation 5 but now I’m in two minds. I haven’t yet set up different users but there is interest in Spider-Man and Guardians Of The Galaxy… and my driving game obsession is starting to be replicated. I’m hoping Sony are a bit more open, but it may mean my Gran Turismo 7 purchase is physical not digital.

Advance Wars though is likely my next purchase and I’ve pre-ordered digitally (I do love the voucher deal on Nintendo Switch Online). It’s all a mish mash but I’ll regret those Nintendo digital purchases when the Super Switch DX4K comes out and I discover that I can’t play anything I’ve bought…

Thanks GC, for keeping me games motivated.
Matt (team_catcave – PSN ID)

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Early adopter
As a PC gamer physical games haven’t been a thing for a long time. My last consoles were the PlayStation 2 and Wii, so I guess it’s a question of whether it was PC or console.

I definitely remember getting a hard copy of Bioshock (2007) on PC as a present – it came in a nice tin!

I also know I bought GTA: San Andreas on PC, ahh but that was 2005.

Ohhhh, I bought Grid Autosport… when was that… ahhh 2014! That’s a probable winner, and actually far more recent than I thought!

Most of the time I’m happy with digital-only on PC. With quick internet, and day one patches being a thing, there isn’t really much of a speed advantage over having the physical copy.

I recall the days of games on the Amiga when it seemed like games boxes where the size of a ream of paper, only to contain a couple of disks (or 10 for The Secret Of Monkey Island 2), a manual (remember them?) And occasionally some kind of novel pirate protection device.

Still, there are times they are missed. I never feel like I can ask for a game as a present anymore, as it means the giver has nothing tangible to give, and even the act of purchasing a game on Steam (other platforms are available) is a bit soulless.

Still, with my ever-increasing gaming backlog (thanks for all the freebies Epic)! I’m pretty much sorted for games anyway.

Have fun gaming y’all!
The Dude Abides

Always offline
The last physical game I bought new was Immortals Fenyx Rising. Why wouldn’t I get a disc? I certainly don’t need to rely on my broadband working. I know my Steam account allows me to play offline so I will continue to buy PC games digitally but, and I hope I’m wrong, the last time I was having issues online with the Xbox I couldn’t play any of my downloaded games unless the system was connected. So TL;DR, connectivity issues don’t exist with disc-based games.

Side note to above. The extra space all these newer games require is a good reason to have a disc as it saves several gigabytes in downloading time.

Funny this question came about when it did. I was in CeX at the weekend and bought Fallout 4 and The Evil Within for a combined £4.

I’m pretty sure that until console games go digital only I will stick to physical copies as long as I can.
Bobwallett

Pandemic purchasing
Since the start of 2020 I have bought three physical games and received one physical game as a present.

The last physical game I bought was Halo Infinite and was purchased purely because an Xbox Series X bundled with the game was the only way I found to actually buy a console (from Very). I would have preferred to have just bought the console and then subscribe to Game Pass to play it.

The previous was my wife buying me Metroid Dread for my birthday. Unfortunately, she tried to surprise me by reserving and prepaying for a copy at a GAME near to where we went on a day trip. Sadly, GAME’s in-store pick-up does not work like that. Instead of going into the shop and collecting a prepaid copy she was told that she was not allowed to have one of the many copies in store and had to return at a later date to collect the specific copy she had ordered. This meant she had to travel there again the following week and was charged £5 extra for the privilege.

The other two were Super Mario 3D All-Stars and Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury, which were both picked up with the groceries at Tesco.

All other games in the last two years have been bought digitally or played as part of my PS Plus subscription. I am somewhat surprised by how much I have embraced digital. I have never been particularly adverse, to it but the pandemic has really swung my purchases to be predominantly digital.
PazJohnMitch

Holding out
I still buy physical games on the regular, I bought myself a PlayStation 4 copy of Tales Of Arise a couple of weeks ago.

It cost me about £37, it’s £49.99 on PlayStation Store, so I don’t think I need to explain my rationale there.

I get that there’s an element of convenience to digital, but I don’t find receiving something in the post or going and buying something in a shop to be that much of a hardship, personally, and that way I’ve got something with a bit of sell-on value.

I’ve bought physical copies of a few Switch games from sites like Limited Run and Iam8bit in the last couple of years and I’d continue to use them for as long as physical is still a thing, although I accept it will go at some point.
Charlie

Times change
My last physical copy of a game was just a couple or more weeks ago when I bought the latest Nintendo Switch OLED console with Zelda: Breath Of The Wild. I was thinking of downloading the digital copy but when I looked at the prices on Amazon they were around £59.99! I then checked my local Argos for a physical copy and got it for almost 15 quid cheaper! Plus, a tangible cartridge also! A bit of a no-brainer it was, really.

I’ll for now always get the game disc itself if I can, unless it was only ever a digital release like a lot of the indie game releases. But they are a lot cheaper to get than newer triple-A titles and I can forgo the physical copy then. I feel safer with a physical copy anyway.

I don’t really trust the future with digital-only games. Console memory may force you to clear up space and you search for the download and find it unavailable! It may not happen yet but in 30 years time can I say the same then! At least with a physical copy you can play it on a working console, if all is in working order.

The bad thing about discs is clutter and needing game fixing patches that are unavailable for it in the future. I do already find DVDs and Blu-rays are only for exceptional films and I definitely only listen to digital music now and no more CDs are bought anymore. But with games it’s different and I still feel the need to hold the disc box and game disc.

No doubt in the future I’ll have no choice but to play games digitally only and I am okay with that, as long as the software developers can guarantee that these will be safe and useable and available for many years to come. I’ll just naturally change my gaming ways and adapt accordingly with the times, like with so many other technological advances. I am sure it’ll be all good in the end.
Alucard

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The small print
New Inbox updates appear every weekday morning, with special Hot Topic Inboxes at the weekend. Readers’ letters are used on merit and may be edited for length and content.

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