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Is the world ready for a disc-free game console?

Nintendo patent hints at a new, download-driven future.

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arstechnica.com
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SPARDA_4261123d ago

It might be cartridge based though.

XBLSkull1123d ago

Yes most definitely. I've been disc free on PC for years and on console for 2. Way better than having a collection of worthless plastic, I'll never touch a physical game again. Once we get rid of those and digital prices can finally drop, the gaming market will be much better.

Nineball21121123d ago

Honest question... Do you really think the prices will drop?

I'm not disagreeing that they shouldn't (no plastic cases, no cd, not artwork, less expensive distribution, etc.) but I wonder if the publishers will give up that revenue.

breakpad1123d ago (Edited 1123d ago )

no its not, if the consoles go completely physical-format -free i ill stop gaming ...no digital for me

xHeavYx1123d ago

Prices of games are supposed to go up as development costs more. I think that, if they go all digital the price will be the same and the excuse will be "if we hadn't gone digital, the prices would be higher".
But no, we are not ready for a digital only era on consoles (as MS was made aware). Especially with the space that current consoles offer.

ocelot071123d ago

I disagree about the digital prices dropping. Company's like EA or Activision won't drop there prices. In fact they will probably do away with standard edition games and only sell these digital deluxe versions for £70.

Look on the XB1 or PSN store. Why is COD Ghost still £40+ even thought it is almost 2 years old.

x_RadicalAura_x1123d ago

I agree. People who are doubting this need to look into a game called Hellblade by Ninja Theory. Independent self-published AAA games are the future. And if they're SP only, they can use the cost savings to make the upfront price of their game cheaper (like $40 in the case of Hellblade).

Spotie1123d ago

@Radical: Or they can keep the price the same and come up with some excuse, as others have stated. What reason do they have to pass their savings on to us?

Clown_Syndr0me1123d ago

Worthless plastic?
Are you thick? Digital downloads are worthless as they have 0 resale value as theyre impossible to resell. The "worthless plastic" can be sold, therefore have value.

You made no sense at all.

JEECE1123d ago

I love how everyone downvotes you and says digital prices won't drop faster than they do now once physical games die out. Clearly these people have no knowledge of Steam.

Even though I'm a Playstation user, I wish MS would have stuck with their original vision for the Xbox One EXCEPT FOR THE ALWAYS ONLINE ASPECT. All digital doesn't require always online DRM, contrary to what many of those desperately clinging to a dying medium want everyone to believe. If they had done that, it would have massively hurt Gamestop, which someone needs to do, and pushed the industry towards digital, since would have been able to offer awesome digital deals on their store.

ABizzel11123d ago

Absolutely not.

PC is different, you can put multiple hard drive bays into your PC for storage, consoles only have 1. PCs can use 3"5 (much more storage space and cheaper than 2.5", but forces consoles to be bigger), 2.5", and SSD (significantly faster than 2.5 and 3.5, but cost too much for console).

A console has to be affordable ($500 or less), and they can't spend $100 on storage alone, since that would impact the money spent on the more important aspects of the hardware (GPU / CPU / RAM).

It's much better reading from the HDD I agree, but until consoles use 3.5" HDD's (which shouldn't be a problem, just bigger boxes), but also HDD cost has to drop significantly which is extremely unlike at this time considering HDD prices are already at an all time low in the 3.5".

Allegedly SSD's will soon be dropping to HDD prices thanks to cheaper production and parts, and they have been declining, but I doubt it'll be fast enough for the PS5 / XB4 let alone NX. The high end manufactures are still charging an insane premium while the low end are selling just above retail profit ($80 for 256GB SSD).

The best consoles can hope for is a hybrid SSD + HDD, that lets games read and write from a 120GB SSD, while storing everything on the HDD 3TB / 4TB. It's the only feasible option that a console will have access to if they truly want to go digital only out the box. Or else force people to buy externals.

And that's only the storage issue they face. The next big issue is global internet speed which is nowhere near ready for digital only. I literally just got Google Fiber here in the US, and thankfully gone from a 12Mbps AT&T max speed in my area, up to 1Gbps thanks to Google (averaging about 800 - 900 MBps, and 200 - 300 over Wi-Fi... should be more with a better router). And with those speed I'm in the top 1% of the world. The average speed in the US was only 10Mbps in 2013, meanwhile games have only increase in size and scope averaging 20GB and some up to 50GB, and soon we may even see multi-Blu ray disc games.

A digital only console isn't going to function to it's maximum capacity until the PS6 / XB5 (2025), where worldwide internet speeds are well above 50 MBps average, 5G speeds will be rolling out slowly featuring speeds allegedly up to 10 Gbps (real world I'm sure will be much slower, considering 4G alleges 150 Mbps, but you're hard-pressed to see 30 Mbps), so by then yes.

For now, No.

freshslicepizza1123d ago

yes we are ready, steam has proven it for years but as long as there are choices out there physical will be preferred by many and in many cases rightfully so.

it's not a question of if we are ready, the question is are people willing to adopt? give the consumer no other choice and you will soon see the barriers are really not that bad.

ShaunCameron1123d ago

@ ocelot07

Maybe the demand for COD: Ghosts is still high.

ShaunCameron1123d ago (Edited 1123d ago )

@ Nineball2112

They're not. The last thing publishers wanna do is underprice it and lose money on each sale.

BlackWolf121123d ago

Digital prices are in no way related to physical media prices.

No way.

If a retail store can sell a product for $X, then a digital store has absolutely no justification to sell it at $Y when Y is MUCH higher than X.

King Nezz1122d ago

Honest question, do you ever feel robbed considering digital games cost as much as a physical copy? I wouldn't mind the whole digital download movement, but come on, 59.99 for something you download vs something you can actually have in your hand?

Just an honest question. You say you've been doing it for a few years now.

rainslacker1122d ago

Worthless huh? Past few weeks I've been selling off parts of my game collection to make space, and I've made over $7,000 on about 250 games.

How much is that hard drive of yours worth? $100...$200?

1122d ago
XBLSkull1122d ago

@Nineball2112
I don't think new game prices will change. I do however know that games will get discounted much sooner.

You find higher priced in digital because they have to be priced higher. If a game prints 5 million copies at $60 and sells those all to the retailers, and then goes ahead and sells a digital copy for $50-55 then why would people buy the physical copy for $60. They need to keep retailers happy. Once they have sold to retail there job is done, they have made their money, whether the retailer sells that through to a customer isn't their problem. Those physical copies put the burden on retailers to sell. They need to sell all those physical copies or money is lost by the retailers, so they can drop prices on physical to simply get rid of that extra stock, if digital undercut that price all the time, retailers would buy significantly less copies or none at all, then the burden is back on the developer to sell you the game, which is more work for them. If we can eliminate that need to sell back stock you get faster discounts on digital games and that is the simple truth to it, thats why Splinter Cell Blacklist costs $30 on digital via amazon/steam, and you can get physical copies for $8 via best buy and $15 on amazon, those worthless discs need to be moved.

@King Nezz
"Honest question, do you ever feel robbed considering digital games cost as much as a physical copy?"

No, not even close. I have my fun with the game, just as much fun as someone with the disc, and I never need to go look for any discs, I just launch the game. The convenience of never having to deal with discs is a better value to me then owning a piece of plastic that takes up space.

@rainslacker
I'd like to see your proof that your 250 games netted you $7000. I'm not saying they are worth nothing, I got my PS4 free for my X360 game collection. But that is an average of $28 a game, highly unlikely.

"Worthless huh? Past few weeks I've been selling off parts of my game collection to make space, and I've made over $7,000 on about 250 games. "

That just makes my point too, you had to sell parts of your game collection to actually make room in your home. So much junk plastic clogging your home that you get rid of it. Not a problem I've ever faced in the digital realm. Digital is the only way to go, and unfortunately for you, you aren't going to have a choice, unless you want to quit playing games. You'll be dragged kicking and screaming into the digital age. I mean do you people carry an MP3 player/streaming capable device with you or do you still roll around with a giant CD wallet for your tunes?

rainslacker1122d ago

I didn't have to sell it. Although I get your point.

I have thousands of games I won't sell, but I just came to the conclusion that I'd rather have the money than some of the games I'm not going to play anytime soon, or ever. I also have a lot of duplicates and odds and ends I've collected over the years.

I'm a collector, so I never considered the games to be in the way. I even made a rather large storage room to store my collection. The room I had to make wasn't out of necessity, it was more that I have OCD, and I just wanted to tidy things up. For the most part, much of my collection has been stored in boxes while we do a home remodel.

While I don't care to share personal details on here, it's actually 292 sales, which have come to $7600 minus shipping costs and stuff as I write this. I don't need to provide proof. Anyone that's sold off numerous games at one time can confirm it's not that unheard of, particularly since I had quite a lot of nice rare games in new condition. It only averages out to $26 a game really.

Still much more valuable than a digital account unless you happen to sell the whole account. But it's far from worthless, whereas a digital purchase is pretty worthless outside of the account that it's tied to.

I don't know about you, but is it better to have that clutter laying around that is worth a substantial amount of money, and occasionally actually becomes more valuable as time goes on, or be completely out of the entire purchase price as soon as you confirm the purchase? No matter what happens, a physical purchase will always have some value, even if it's negligible. The same can't be said about digital.

On the plus side, if I ever care to play the game's I've sold off one day, and they become so valuable that I don't care to purchase them again, I can likely get around to buying/renting them digitally in the future, so it's nice to have both options.

I won't be dragged into a digital future. I just won't support it heavily. I'll play the occasional game when the price is right...which will be significantly lower than I'd spend on retail(day one for instance). I'll still have plenty of retail games to fall back on even if publishers no longer make it available. I have enough self control not to waste my money on things that hold no tangible value....and digital is the definition of that unless things change like what MS wanted to do with the X1 originally.

Kidmyst1122d ago

For anyone using Steam as an example to cheaper prices for digital, you are missing the big picture. Steam is competing with retailers, Sony and MSFT the same way retailers compete with Console makers to drop prices. if you compare prices I can get games for $9.00 off Amazon that are brand new, where digital versions on Sony and MSFT are $19.99. When your only option is to buy a digital version from one source, the price never has to lower because there is no competition for 1st party titles. Some games like COD don't seem to ever get much cheaper like other games do. If Nintendo moves away from discs, I hope they go back to cartridges, much faster loading times.

Theantidote6191122d ago

I've also went disc free on my xbone and ps4. Wii-u I still keep physics mainly because Nintendo games hold value over the years. It's upsetting to see $60 games on the digital store when it's the same price in store. I wish they would try just setting the digital $10 cheaper to see how much of a difference it would make in people purchasing. I'm sure the discount on Witcher boosted digital sales.

Fluke_Skywalker1122d ago

Only if it's got a massive hdd. Games are pretty damn big these days.

Clunkyd1122d ago

You do realize when you buy a digital copy that means it has zero value. I dont know about you but having a game that im done playing after 2-4 weeks, which is most of them, I like to trade or sell and get at the very least half my money back towards another game.

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Bigpappy1123d ago

Might just be an SD card. I don't see the next "Next-Gen consoles" having physical disk. When you go to game stores in the future, you buy a license, and copy the game to your thumb drive.

Crowserk1123d ago

Real talk. I miss blowing carts (no homo) and load times on flash memory are pleasant. BRING IT ON NINTENDO

1123d ago
Joey_Leone1122d ago

I dont mind using cartridges, as long as it doesnt require an internet connection to run a PHYSICAL game.

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FallenAngel19841123d ago

Hell no. There are so many things wrong with a closed platform going digital only

Xavior_Reigns1123d ago

It may be cartridge based for the NX but in general I say hell no the world isn't. However let it become so, let these companies alienate a large base of gamers. Either somehow games will become cheaper or more realistically, games will become even more chopped up for DLC and MT than ever before. Therefore prices will increase on everything to make up for loses on those who want a pure digital future. Even if that doesn't happen, definitely expect the AD gates opening.

Heyxyz1123d ago

I agree, People keep saying a digital future would mean cheaper games, but I just don't see how that would be true. Can you really see greedy companies like EA or Ubi charging less when they'd have control over the one market.

Agent_00_Revan1123d ago

They dont drop prices now as it is. What makes people think they will if Digital was the only option.

Way more often than not, physical copies are cheaper than digital. I usually dont but games anymore until they break the $40 mark.

JEECE1123d ago

Obviously games wouldn't be cheaper to begin with, but as demand died down when games got older, they would have incentive to drop the price, to stimulate demand.

You can call insult ubisoft and EA all you want, but they'd much rather sell 15 copies of a 6 month old game for 30-40 dollars than only 3-4 for 60.

They can't do this right now because it would make their retail partners upset.

Look at how quickly digital prices drop on PC (where retailers have little influence) compared to on console. Obviously online-focused games that continue to sell lots of copies for a long time are an exception, because there is no reason to drop the price when demand stays high at $60.

Chaosdreams1123d ago

@Jeece

Ubisoft, Ea, whoever, doesn't care how much their game sells, if option a requires less sales for the same revenue, they will go with option a.

A digital only future will be how the prices are now, if not higher. It won't benefit gamers, but punish those who adopt. That's because of greed, and the direction the industry has taken in the past few years.

They have 0 reasons for why it'll be the same if not a higher cost, and to them it doesn't matter, because those who adopt will stay pay up, and even if they only sell 1 damn copy, if it's at a cost that covers a thousand gamers, they still make bank.

JEECE1122d ago

@chaosdreams

"if option a requires less sales for the same revenue, they will go with option a."

Not necessarily. Fewer sales means less opportunity for word of mouth advertising, a smaller online community to attract new players, a smaller fanbase that would potentially buy a sequel, smaller numbers that don't sound as good to press/investors, a smaller number of people to buy dlc, etc.

Even assuming, for the sake of argument, that they'd rather sell 10 copies at $60 than 5 at $30, eventually demand is going to drop to the point where the $60 dollar price is no longer achieving twice the sales that the $30 price point would. As everyone notes, they are greedy, so they will drop the price to stimulate sales and increase profits.

EA and Ubisoft like money. They aren't going to keep prices high just to spite consumers. They will drop them when the demand drops.

Sources: Steam, basic laws of supply and demand.

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PX541122d ago

At the moment I would say the worlds not ready. Mainly due to the prices - hell I've seen the "sale" prices for digital games 6 months after release still be more expensive than I bought the physical copy on launch day.
However currently there's very few 3rd party digital download stores for console games - for example if I went to Amazon and searched for The Last of Us: Remastered, I would only get the physical copy as an option to buy.
If the consoles went digital only they would need to give the digital option to 3rd party retailers to continue selling the games - this is where the price drops will come from, competition between retailers.

Maybay1123d ago

No, gamers aren't ready.

Going back to the NX thing, didn't Nintendo patent something to do with holographics? Ah, here it is: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/...

We might be in for a surprise.

ninsigma1123d ago

That sounds really cool! I hope they do something like that!

ninsigma1123d ago

I like having both tbh. For some reason I don't care about disks on pc. I built my own and didn't bother with a disk tray and buy all my games digitally and it doesn't bother me at all. But on console, games I know I'll keep I buy digitally, for example, halo mcc. But for games I'm sure I'll end up trading in I get on disk. Also my hugely anticipated games I also buy on disk.

spicelicka1123d ago

Yes exactly, why should we be forced to go all digital if we already have both options and everyone is happy?

It's perfect the way it is. If a dev wants to make an digital only or online only game they're free to do so. Like destiny for example, and Crackdown 3.