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Console gamers prefer discs to downloads

Console gamers prefer discs to downloads

64 percent of console gamers would rather have a physical copy of a game than a digital one.

A survey by Ipsos MediaCT has revealed that 64 percent of console gamers prefer physical copies of games to ones bought and stored digitally.

Reported by MCV, the research also quizzed respondents on their preference between physical and digital formats of other media, including music, films and newspapers. Surprisingly, the percentage for the console game was the highest, even trumping the newspaper, where 63 percent preferred a hard copy. Music scored the lowest, with just 45 percent wanting their music in physical form.

Ian Bramley, director of Ipsos MediaCT, claimed that both the collector's mindset and the second-hand game market were increasing boxed game purchases. The value placed on the pre-owned games market is "unlike the music and film markets," he said.

The survey did not take into account the opinion of PC gamers. If they had, we reckon the figures would likely have favoured digital distribution a bit more, given the huge success of platforms like Steam and Direct2Drive. The fact that 17 percent of participants reported that their console was not connected to the internet is likely to have affected the high preference for game discs too.

Asked about what would sway them to download a game, 55 percent claimed that lower prices would help, and 27 percent would like to see earlier availability of games.

Where do you stand on the issue of physical versus downloaded games? Is having a "real" copy of a game valuable, or do you simply prefer to use whichever method is cheapest or easiest? Let us know your thoughts in the forums.

59 Comments

Discuss in the forums Reply
B1GBUD 5th July 2010, 12:54 Quote
Of course they do, it's much easier to sell on a physical game.... ebay anyone?
johnnyboy700 5th July 2010, 13:18 Quote
Yep, resell will be a significant reason.
memeroot 5th July 2010, 13:18 Quote
I think the love of media will decrease significantly in the near future... I personally cant stand dvd's and cd's now... such a shame the quality is not there yet with downloaded media (and I'm looking at you compressed audio tracks!!!)
Flibblebot 5th July 2010, 13:20 Quote
I think a large part of the problem is that console hard drives are more space-limited than PC drives, not to mention the fact that if you change consoles, there's no easy way to see (a la Steam) what games you've purchased so you can download them again.
shoxicwaste 5th July 2010, 13:43 Quote
I prefer digital - look at steam, i don't see console gamers getting the deals PC gamers do - i remember buying GTAIV for £5 in November 2009 it was still £35.99 for console :O
mrbens 5th July 2010, 13:48 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by memeroot
I think the love of media will decrease significantly in the near future... I personally cant stand dvd's and cd's now... such a shame the quality is not there yet with downloaded media (and I'm looking at you compressed audio tracks!!!)

You can buy WAV files from most online mp3 stores now.

I've always hated physical media.

So much nicer to have everything on one PC instead, like all my cd collection and games from Steam which don't need the dvd in the drive to play even tho it's all been installed to the hard drive anyway! I haven't bought a boxed game for years and never will again.
d1ck0 5th July 2010, 13:54 Quote
I've got 95 games in my valve folder, equating to 240gb of data !!, I wouldnt have room for all them dvds and cd's !!! :)

Plus during the last week the steam servers got a hammering in the sales !!! , I dont mind wasting £2 on a game if it turns out to be cr@p !!.
tad2008 5th July 2010, 13:54 Quote
From the half dozen or so people I know that use consoles, being able to trade in old games and get a discount off new titles is probably THE biggest reason. They also tend to swap and share titles, something that is not possible with digital distribution.

As a PC user I prefer to have a physical copy of the game, though I do use steam for the odd title like Mass Effect 2 along with discounted older titles. Having a physical copy of the disc means a re-install in case of a hard drive failure is simple, having to download all my games again would take months and have my ISP slapping me with charges far in excess of the games worth.

If it became possible to back up the digitally distributed files and or for ISP's to give us truly unlimited broadband with no usage caps then I would be more comfortable making the move to digital download options on a larger scale.
Veles 5th July 2010, 13:55 Quote
I actually prefer using steam to a disk for PCs, but for consoles I want the disks.
steveo_mcg 5th July 2010, 14:01 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by tad2008


If it became possible to back up the digitally distributed files and or for ISP's to give us truly unlimited broadband with no usage caps then I would be more comfortable making the move to digital download options on a larger scale.

errm available from day one i think....
https://support.steampowered.com/kb_article.php?ref=8794-YPHV-2033
erratum1 5th July 2010, 14:08 Quote
I'm not going to download games on a 2 meg line, it's painful enough just downloading 1-2 ghz demo's. I would pay a little extra somewhere to have the minimum speed raised in the uk.
Blademrk 5th July 2010, 14:32 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Veles
I actually prefer using steam to a disk for PCs, but for consoles I want the disks.

+1.
BlackMage23 5th July 2010, 14:36 Quote
Price is the biggest thing for downloadable content.
While Steam is good when it has a sale, I always find that a new game is cheaper from play then steam
pimlicosound 5th July 2010, 15:10 Quote
I'd like to support digital sales on console on principle, but the current execution is rubbish.

1. PS store doesn't sell full, new games at all, as far as I can tell - only smaller games and PS1 re-releases.

2. Xbox Live offers a few games, usually a year or two after release.

3. Prices are about £20 on Xbox Live, usually twice as much as the same game costs on disc

The problem, of course, is that there's currently no free market in digital sales on console - they must all go through the official store. I don't think we'll see much improvement until we can sort that out.
RichCreedy 5th July 2010, 15:17 Quote
i dont mind wether its disk or digital download, so long as i can get it when i want
NuTech 5th July 2010, 15:20 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by BlackMage23
Price is the biggest thing for downloadable content.
While Steam is good when it has a sale, I always find that a new game is cheaper from play then steam
A friend of mine pointed out something quite interesting about Steam too. We like to marvel at their 'amazing' sales, but if you actually remember back when brick and mortar shops sold a lot of PC games, their sales were always equally good or even better. I cannot count the amount of times I found a great recent release in their bargain bin for £3-£5. /nostalgia

Similar to what people often bitch at Microsoft about is they don't offer regular bargain sales on Xbox Live Arcade either, and when they do the deals aren't even that great. I think it was only last week that they had one of their first good meaningful sales, and even then the game selection was relatively small.

I think a big problem is incentive. While digital distribution saves a lot of money logistically, it also means that there is no 'inventory' to clear out. And I suppose that they don't want a lot of their customers getting into a habit of only buying DLC when it's on sale. Ensuring there is no competition helps too.

What we really need is a digital distribution wholesaler. Imagine a service like Steam that would only sell games in units of 1000 or more. Etailers would then buy virtual 'stock' and try to sell it through the same interface to customers. You would log on, find a game you want and then see all the e-tailers offering it. Obviously you would pick the lowest price (unless some of the e-tailers offered reward card based incentives or similar), then check out. As games lose popularity, they could then start dumping inventory at much lower prices.
DbD 5th July 2010, 16:14 Quote
I also prefer steam. Game disks become rapidly out of date - you may not need the disk but you often end up with gigabytes of patches that you have to remember to update every time you install, and then find the patches that have appeared since you last installed, hacks to get some old game to actually install on windows latest os. That's if you haven't lost the disk, the manual with the key on, and the disk still works.

Then there's the annoyance of actually having to physically put the disk in the machine when you want to play.

Steam I buy it and it automatically stays up to date. Move PC and I just copy the steamapps directory over and all my games are installed, fully patched and up to date instantly. No disks or keys to loose, no need to keep sticking it in the PC to play, no lengthy re-install. Simple.
yakyb 5th July 2010, 16:19 Quote
My gaming PC currently does not have a Dvd drive in it
hasnt had one for 4 months
yakyb 5th July 2010, 16:21 Quote
oh in addition,

i just wish i could register all my old Boxed games on steam (farcry , crysis, Mass effect etc)
greigaitken 5th July 2010, 16:25 Quote
games i've lost / damaged disks > games i cannot resell due to steam. steam wins.
knuck 5th July 2010, 16:26 Quote
I can understand. I personnally love to have a huge collection of games on a shelf. It's been a long time since I added any (CoD4 and the Orange Box) and it's a little sad because I won't be able to 'contemplate' them in 10-20 years from now like I do with my NES and SNES games
douglatins 5th July 2010, 16:27 Quote
For PC most is digital, but i will never go digital on a console.
PCs can backup, run every game since the dawn of gaming. Not so much on consoles
yakyb 5th July 2010, 16:34 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ghys
I can understand. I personnally love to have a huge collection of games on a shelf. It's been a long time since I added any (CoD4 and the Orange Box) and it's a little sad because I won't be able to 'contemplate' them in 10-20 years from now like I do with my NES and SNES games

I have a Folder full of backups each within its own subfolder with a Poster as the Folder image Looks great
Cyberpower-UK 5th July 2010, 16:41 Quote
I have almost totally switched to digital. Unfortunately some distributors still charge a premium for this service (Split/Second being the most obvious current example).

Half-Life showed us the way, now Valve is making inroads on other platforms (PS3, MAC). The only thing that puts me off is getting throttled by Virgin for LEGALLY downloading 10GB of games.
thehippoz 5th July 2010, 16:48 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by shoxicwaste
I prefer digital - look at steam, i don't see console gamers getting the deals PC gamers do - i remember buying GTAIV for £5 in November 2009 it was still £35.99 for console :O

hehe and they still sell! they know who console gamers are- it's the impulse market..

I like to look at it like fishing lures- they shiny expensive jig always catches the casual fisherman- they know this.. it sure as hell doesn't work but it'll sell anyway
yakyb 5th July 2010, 16:55 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by yakyb
oh in addition,

i just wish i could register all my old Boxed games on steam (farcry , crysis, Mass effect etc)

anyone know how to do this, i dont think its possible

i have resorted to copying the ISO and getting a nocd crack for many (all completely legit purchases) speeds up installation as well

just wish that you could play games over network shares
devilxc 5th July 2010, 17:13 Quote
DRM is the reason why steam is so successful (imho). I can't be bothered looking for a disc continually to prove that I have bought the game.

Renting Xbox / PS3 games allows people to complete the game and only pay a fraction of the cost. It's no suprise console users prefer physical media.
thehippoz 5th July 2010, 17:22 Quote
yeah thats true.. but then you gotta take into account late fees when renting too- most people do rent over buy
Unknownsock 5th July 2010, 17:42 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by tad2008
If it became possible to back up the digitally distributed files and or for ISP's to give us truly unlimited broadband with no usage caps then I would be more comfortable making the move to digital download options on a larger scale.

You can back up, all you need is the steamapps folder and steam.exe backed up Steam will sort out the rest once run. Also it has a build in feature.

And I thinkl you should move ISP's then as I've been on true unlimited for nearly 2 years now :o
Must have downloaded 150-200gb this week.
technogiant 5th July 2010, 17:54 Quote
Given the extortionate price per GB for the 360 harddrive storage when compared to pc hdd's it is hardly surprising that optical media is favourite.
BlackMage23 5th July 2010, 17:59 Quote
Also, DVD boxes are cheap and give you good throwing ammo.
Denis_iii 5th July 2010, 18:27 Quote
i've changed my views on online distribution.
Steam sucks for not letting be give games I own and don't play to friends.
Steam sucks as if you buy game media, incorporate into steam then thats that, u can sell the media or give it to a friend but they will be unable to incporate it into steam so won't be able to play online.
Its great being able to purchase games online, but then not being able to give away software I PAID FOR to friends sucks and pisses me off to the nth degree!
also, Valve sort it the **** out and at least allow me to change my username!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Riddick 5th July 2010, 18:59 Quote
Whilst I love being able to buy games on Steam, especially ones that aren't produced any more I still prefer to have physical disks for my console (Wii) partly because the Wii hasn't got the storage for big downloadable games and partly because there's something reassuring about knowing that I can play the game even if Nintendo ever close their store
javaman 5th July 2010, 19:11 Quote
I would sway towards downloadable content as you arnt limited by the size of a dvd *cough* xbox 360 *cough* but steam is annoying due to crappy internet connections. Fast broadband and I'm totally sold.
Horizon 5th July 2010, 19:33 Quote
I'll be honest I prefer a physical medium, after I've played a game to death,or a newer installment has been released making the previous version pointless I like to give away or sell the copy I'm not gonna play anymore. There are A LOT of game in my steam folder the exist in deletion limbo for a variety of reasons because they got old, became old hat or was just so unappealing that I couldn't force myself to play it more than 15 minutes. now the latter I find more irksome because I'm just effectively stuck with it.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Denis_iii
i've changed my views on online distribution.
Steam sucks for not letting be give games I own and don't play to friends.
Steam sucks as if you buy game media, incorporate into steam then thats that, u can sell the media or give it to a friend but they will be unable to incporate it into steam so won't be able to play online.
Its great being able to purchase games online, but then not being able to give away software I PAID FOR to friends sucks and pisses me off to the nth degree!
also, Valve sort it the **** out and at least allow me to change my username!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I hate to be this guy but read the EULA, you are not purchasing the game software, but a lifetime subscription for it.
Clesm 5th July 2010, 20:12 Quote
I live in the sticks so physical for me...
Phil Rhodes 5th July 2010, 20:41 Quote
Another part of it is how the hell you make a complaint with a download.

If you've bought it from Game, you can at least go down to Game and make someone's life hell, face-to-face, until you achieve a result you can live with. I did this with Supreme Commander, which was released in such a state that it would gradually get slower and slower and slower as you played missions, regardless of what hardware you put it on. Game's attitude was that they didn't refund PC games. My attitude was that the sale of goods act said otherwise. I won.

Try making that stick when you're one of Steam's 25 million users.
Phil Rhodes 5th July 2010, 20:44 Quote
Oh, also:

I hate to be this guy but read the EULA, you are not purchasing the game software, but a lifetime subscription for it.

I haven't read the Steam EULA, but I suspect this is not correct. I suspect that you are buying a subscription to the game until Valve or the publisher says otherwise, but more to the point, you're buying a subscription until Steam ceases to exist - which I suspect will be a lot less than your lifetime.
tad2008 5th July 2010, 20:44 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by steveo_mcg
Quote:
Originally Posted by tad2008


If it became possible to back up the digitally distributed files and or for ISP's to give us truly unlimited broadband with no usage caps then I would be more comfortable making the move to digital download options on a larger scale.

errm available from day one i think....
https://support.steampowered.com/kb_article.php?ref=8794-YPHV-2033

Thanks for the link and good to know it's as simple as copying a folder to a different location. All I need now is an ISP with no usage limits and I'll be a whole lot happier :o)
tad2008 5th July 2010, 20:51 Quote
On the whole EULA can't transfer games bought from Steam which also applies to other providers like direct2drive would be the option to transfer the game over to another Steam account where by the new user would be able to play it legally and your version would then become invalidated and removed from your account.

It would also mean that someone could purchase a game for you on your behalf, like birthdays, xmas, or any other occasion that fits receiving a game purchase and have it sent to your account to be downloaded and played. This would be particularly useful for those with long distance relationships with friends / relatives who could power up their computer on the special occasion and have a gift wrapped download waiting for them, lol
Phil Rhodes 5th July 2010, 20:51 Quote
Quote:
option to transfer the game over to another Steam account where by the new user would be able to play it legally and your version would then become invalidated and removed from your account

Warning, low-flying pigs!
Tulatin 5th July 2010, 21:03 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Flibblebot
I think a large part of the problem is that console hard drives are more space-limited than PC drives, not to mention the fact that if you change consoles, there's no easy way to see (a la Steam) what games you've purchased so you can download them again.

Don't forget though, console drives are size limited due to greed, not reason. On the PS3, you can slot in a 1TB drive for under $100, provided it wants to fit a 12mm drive. On the 360? You're ****ed.
Tokukachi 5th July 2010, 22:16 Quote
Physical discs for me, until I get faster broadband and the prices go down. I've bought a fair few things in the steam sales, nothing at full price so far though. My biggest issue is I bought L4D2 on the 360 at launch for less on the 360 than the steam PC price, seriously wtf?

On the 360 the issue is price and the fact the HDD is tiny, when it come to music and films, 7.99 for an album I can get a physical copy of from a shop for £9.99 is ridiculous, and movies at £6-£10 is alsoa joke when I can get it for free from the Bay with even less hassle. Also, adverts on digital downloads suck.
iggy 5th July 2010, 22:54 Quote
"What we really need is a digital distribution wholesaler. Imagine a service like Steam that would only sell games in units of 1000 or more. "

whata truly awful idea. this would take every advantage of digital distribution, and then chuck them in the bin.
NuTech 5th July 2010, 23:05 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by iggy
"What we really need is a digital distribution wholesaler. Imagine a service like Steam that would only sell games in units of 1000 or more. "

whata truly awful idea. this would take every advantage of digital distribution, and then chuck them in the bin.
Yes, because competition doesn't have any benefits. Oh wait.

yakyb 5th July 2010, 23:40 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Phil Rhodes
Oh, also:

I hate to be this guy but read the EULA, you are not purchasing the game software, but a lifetime subscription for it.

I haven't read the Steam EULA, but I suspect this is not correct. I suspect that you are buying a subscription to the game until Valve or the publisher says otherwise, but more to the point, you're buying a subscription until Steam ceases to exist - which I suspect will be a lot less than your lifetime.

thats something i worry about tbh how long will my games last me, i'm forever cracking open Farcry if it became unavailable i would be pissed right off
Lazarus Dark 6th July 2010, 00:51 Quote
Trust. I dont trust digital copies to always be available. Take the Wii Virtual Console. I have only bought 5 games on there because I dont trust that they will be compatible with the next system or that they will work forever. I do trust that a physical Wii disc will continue to work, even if the console dies, I expect I can move it to another Wii.

Look at all those people who bought DRM'd music and then the DRM servers were shut down. They either lost the music and had to repurchase elsewhere or thier option was to burn the lossy music to a cd... and then re-rip it to lossy again, degrading quality, possibly severely.

For the PC, I trust a digital download only if it gives me the FULL game with no DRM. Otherwise... it could stop working at any time. All the games on my old Atari 2600 still work and I like to break it out once every couple years. I want to know I can do the same with games I purchase now for thirty years (especially if it costs more than 20 bucks)
Star*Dagger 6th July 2010, 02:57 Quote
Steam is the Way and the Light, period.

@B-T, please do not use the words Console. And Gamer in the same sentence!

@ Those sill paying per Gb, I would protest if I were you, a few protests outside of their home office will see some action, Internet access is a Human Right!

What I didn't get was the console kiddies who do not have internet connection, how the frack are they going to play? Single? BLARGH!!! Or against whomever they can find in the area?!

Yours in Steam PC Gaming Plasma,
Star*Dagger
Tulatin 6th July 2010, 04:36 Quote
To be fair, at some point Valve could enable resale / gifting / trading of existing purchases, perhaps with something like a 3/6/12 month cooldown, or fixed trade limit, as so to discourage multiple people to buy into a game then pass it around.
Elton 6th July 2010, 06:10 Quote
I still prefer discs. If only because I still have a copy later. I just resort to NOCDs after I install most of the time.

Regardless, STEAM is nice yes, but sometimes say you have a slow internet, it's not going to be fun to wait for that download.
Coltch 6th July 2010, 08:59 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Clesm
I live in the sticks so physical for me...

Same here, only have mobile broadband so downloading 1 game would destroy my data allowance!.
DOA Draven 6th July 2010, 10:40 Quote
Downloads are all very well, but there is still a large number of people in the UK who do not have fast internet. One customer of mine, living 5 miles away from a city, has only 0.25Mb ASDL connection, fancy a 2Gb download anyone? Living in a smaller community I doubt they will ever get fast internet as there is no profit to be made by providing it to this community, where as investment in the city to change from 10Mb to 50 or 100Mb strides ahead. Digital Britian? Really? Maybe for the cities and towns, but the rural community, who could benefit the most?

So DVDs should have their place.
Floyd 6th July 2010, 18:35 Quote
I think most would pick physical only because their internet has a cap or it just sucks.
Personally for PC I choose Digital and phyisical for consoles.
Krayzie_B.o.n.e. 6th July 2010, 22:22 Quote
Console gaming and physical media go hand in hand as the game resale industry depends heavily on the physical media and would cease to exist in a DD era. Also this gen of consoles still follows the original console model but next gen I see media going bye bye as consoles fully convert to PCs

As a PC gamer I love STEAM but I also love having a physical copy of some sorts to satisfy my "I got a back up copy just in case... feelings".

I started sticking all my games on USB flash drives (so I could play games at work on the weekend )
scot 7th July 2010, 01:25 Quote
I would never trust a download not to be "removed" later by the source.
Material suppliers nowadays are megalomaniacs with very distorted ideas about their relationships with clients. :|
iggy 7th July 2010, 02:17 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by NuTech
Quote:
Originally Posted by iggy
"What we really need is a digital distribution wholesaler. Imagine a service like Steam that would only sell games in units of 1000 or more. "

whata truly awful idea. this would take every advantage of digital distribution, and then chuck them in the bin.
Yes, because competition doesn't have any benefits. Oh wait.

so, finally, once youve got rid of retailers and wholesalers so you can get the game from the source, you want to ADD THOSE LAYERS BACK IN artificially, so you can reap the benefits. good idea dumb ass.
NuTech 7th July 2010, 03:05 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by iggy
so, finally, once youve got rid of retailers and wholesalers so you can get the game from the source, you want to ADD THOSE LAYERS BACK IN artificially, so you can reap the benefits. good idea dumb ass.
Wow, not only is that statement untrue but you've managed to compound it with an insult. Good job.

Do you really think that buying a game from Steam is buying it from "the source"? Steam is a distributor, just a digital version of any brick and mortar retail shop. They buy their games from the publisher - just like every other retailer - how that makes them "the source" is beyond me.

I love Steam but, as it stands, the digital distribution market for PC gaming is severely lacking in competition.

Your (and a lot of other people's) comical 'lol steamz is awesome and all i needz' attitude is all well and good for now, that is until Valve put a foot wrong, then you'll all be crying for an alternative and more competition in the marketplace.

A digital wholesaler could seriously help bring about more competition and variety to the industry, giving smaller companies a platform on which they can compete. After all, this is capitalism, and if their product is no good or too expensive then nobody will buy it. It couldn't possibly do any damage to the status quo, but it just might improve it.
steveo_mcg 7th July 2010, 11:01 Quote
Thing is, there are alternatives they are just inferior so no one uses them I don't see how any artificial competition would fix that.

What we'd need in your hypothetical situation is for Valve to spin steam off and open the API up to others and allow them to pursue their own contracts with the major publishers.
NuTech 7th July 2010, 12:45 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by steveo_mcg
Thing is, there are alternatives they are just inferior so no one uses them I don't see how any artificial competition would fix that.

What we'd need in your hypothetical situation is for Valve to spin steam off and open the API up to others and allow them to pursue their own contracts with the major publishers.
I agree, as not only would the competition need to create a fantastic digital distribution system, but they'd also need all the bells and whistles Steam has (community, IM, etc etc etc). On top of all that, they'd then need to give people an actual reason to use it. Cheaper games? Exclusive games? All very hard stuff to pull off.

At the publisher I work for, when I'm actually in the office, the subject of Valve does pop up quite often. The general consensus is they will eventually open up some type of franchise or affiliate system sometime in the near future (imagine Steam acting as a Paypal for video games. You go to any online store of your choosing to buy a game, and they give you 2 options: the physical disc posted, or buying through their branded Steam store).

This works out great for Valve, because rather than put up with future competition, they simply bring the competition in house. It's similar to the early days of BT Broadband. First they sold their own service to customers, but then they started (or were forced to start) BT Wholesale, which allowed other companies to use their infrastructure, while still selling their own services if people want them.
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