Blog Banter: The Box versus the Digital Download

Always looking for sources of things to talk about, I’ve joined up with a group of other bloggers to do a monthly blog banter topic where we all post on the same subject.

Welcome, welcome to the 6th installment of Blog Banter, the monthly blogging extravaganza headed by bs angel! Blog Banter involves our cozy community of enthusiastic gaming bloggers, a common topic, and a week to post articles pertaining to said topic. The results are quite entertaining and can range from deep insight to ROFLMAO. Any questions about Blog Banter should be directed here. Check out other Blog Banter articles at the bottom of this post!

Topic: Digital distribution of games vs. buying physical boxes and discs, which do you prefer and why?

If you had asked me this question years ago, my answer would have been physical boxes with no hesitation, as my closet full of game boxes will attest.  But then again, years ago, digital downloading could be iffy. Downloading a game once from some random website wouldn’t guarantee that you could get the game again later if you needed to.

That’s the main reason I always went for the physical box.  Once I have the box, as long as I don’t lose it, I can install and play that game whenever I want.  Every once in a while, I’ll pull out one of those boxes even now and throw down with an hour or two of Myst or Evil Genius or some other game you may not be able to find in stores anymore.

Of course, many of those games I own boxes for are available on GameTap now, so I don’t need my box, I just need to keep my $59.95 a year subscription active and I can play any of their 1000+ games whenever I want, on any machine I install the GameTap client on.  I’m a proud user of Steam, where I get my occasional fix of Half-Life 2 and Team Fortress 2 (games I don’t own boxes for) among others.  And with my Xbox360, well, I don’t fear Microsoft going out of business anytime soon, so I buy downloadable content through them, which I can always redownload.

But back to that main reason… being able to install and play any time I want.  If EA has their way, that’ll be a thing of the past.  SecuROM is actually going to make me not purchase Spore, a game I have been dying to play, because its some of the most idiotic copy protection I have ever heard about.  Similar problems crept up when Bioshock was released, the copy protection invalidating the game, which could be avoided by either getting the console version or by going through Steam.

I guess in the end, what I am saying it… assuming the source for the digital distribution will stick around, or that I can burn my own copy of the download for safe keeping, I don’t mind not getting a physical box anymore.

Check out these other Blog Banter articles! Living Epic, Silvercublogger, Mahogany Finish, Video Game Sandwich, thoughts and rants, XboxOZ360, Zath!, Delayed Responsibility, Gamer Unit, Hawty McBloggy, Triage Effect.


  1. Your article pretty much sums up my feelings on digital downloads for games – there used to be a time when I liked having a huge collection of boxes on display, but these days I just want to be able to play the game when I want to and not have added clutter in my life!

  2. Assuming companies can get their act together and you can actually access the digital content you paid for, I don’t have a problem with digital distribution. My experience with it hasn’t been nearly as positive as yours it would seem though.

    That article you linked to is scary as well. Those games that only allow three downloads, are they charging full price for them?

  3. @bs angel:
    Its not that the game allows three downloads. You’ve bought the box and the CD… the game only allows 3 “installs”, where replacing your video card (or other hardware) is considered an install.

    Manuals… maybe, but that’s what PDFs are for, or they could always just team up with the Prima guide people and sell them separately. As for the Special Collector Editions, 99% of the time its a box of junk trying to get you to spend extra money. The last time I got a collector’s edition that had something I cared about was the Ultima Online one with the cloth map, which I still have.

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