Gamer Mondays: Digital Version Fury
Last week, Dave talked about sluggish UI’s and how they are hampering his gaming experience. This week, I want to gripe a little bit about something that most gamers can relate to: digital games versus physical copies.
A few weeks ago, I finally bought a PlayStation Vita. Luckily for me, shortly after I bought it, Amazon.com had a sale for LittleBigPlanet for only $10. Being a huge fan of the series, I had to snag it at such a low price. Of course, I couldn’t be the first one to try it out. Instead, my wife (a bigger LBP fan than me) wanted to give it a shot. Within minutes, she was telling me how much she wanted a Vita and that we needed to get her one. Fine by me, since I love when she joins me in gaming. So, I manage to find her a used Vita (one of the Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation white ones at that) pretty cheap. After playing LBP on her Vita for a few minutes, she tells me I have to get my own copy of the game and I needed to do it THAT DAY so we could play together. The closest GameStop is about a hour away, and I knew my local Wal-Mart didn’t have it, so I did the only thing I could do: I paid $35 to get it on PSN. I paid $35 for a game that I just got a week or two before for $10.
I know it sounds ridiculous in a way: I’m complaining about my wife asking me TO get a game. It just irks me that the prices of digital games always start at the same level as physical copies and often are slower to drop in price. What do we get for pre-ordering the $60 digital copy instead of the $60 disc copy? Maybe an extra theme, or an avatar or something. We rarely get anything of significant value. Then we are stuck with the game, unable to trade it in or sell if we don’t like it. We can’t even loan it out to a friend.
I’m not saying I hate digital distribution. I often love it. When PSN has a good sale or special, it is usually really good. I also can’t argue with the convenience factor. There are times that I really want to play a game and I really don’t want to have to go all the way to the store to buy a copy, especially since I live in a rural area. However, I just wish companies would either offer us more bang for our buck or give us prices that at least drop at the same rate as physical copies, if not under those prices.
While free themes and avatars are cool and all, why can’t we get something like a collection of all the pre-order bonuses the other stores are getting (something that Dave previously griped about here)? Heck, I would take something as simple as early access to pre-orders. Movies already get this kind of treatment with UltraViolet streaming, sometimes being able to buy and watch movies up to three weeks before a physical release copy.
The best solution, however, is to charge us less. That would be the ultimate incentive to move into the “digital age” of gaming. Charge me $10 or so less on new release games, and I’ll probably just get the digital copy. Beats having to stand in line at the game store or wait for a shipment that can be delayed. Better yet, how about actually dropping the prices on games that have been out awhile. While it wasn’t that bad, I shouldn’t have had to pay $35 for another copy of LBP. $20 or $25 would have been a lot more reasonable at this point. Discounts are less likely to happen than better bonuses of course. Game companies are going to make as much as they can for as long as they can. I just hope that Sony keeps offering bonus credit and a few deals on PSN.