Sep 17, 2013
Spending £50 on a digital copy of Grand Theft Auto V is beginning to look like a bad choice for many fans. The promise of being able to pre-load the game has proven worthless, as it was delayed from the 13th to the 16th of September, rendering little point when the game is released the following day. After consumer backlash, the date was changed to the 15th.
There are a number of benefits to downloading your game. For one, it is available on the hard drive whenever you wish to access it, and it also may reduce loading times, as it is accessed straight from the HDD. Pre-loading seems quite tempting, as you can play it the minute that it goes live on release day, without having to endure horribly slow downloads due to high traffic.
But this hardly outweighs the other option: the physical format. Pre-loading seems pointless when you can download the title a matter of hours later, or get it delivered on the day with a pre-order. And with a physical copy, it will only cost £35. Physical sales show that it is still a dominant format to purchase new games. Even when the pre-loading did go live at nearly 16.00 (promised to be 15.00), fans were still disgruntled. There are reports of downloads being cancelled, and taking hours upon hours, with install fails and corrupted files.
What does the future hold?
If Sony and Microsoft want to encourage a digital future with downloadable titles, then a few things need to change. For a start, the prices seem highly unfair. You are essentially paying extra for a copy of the game that is cheaper to produce. There are no physical aspects to mass product or transport. Also, you lack the ability to trade the game, and gain back some of the money you spent on it.
Server capacities also need to improve significantly. With such a colossal download that will take a significant portion of the day, cancelling midway is simply the most infuriating downside of being a gamer. Especially with updates that cannot be paused, put in the background, or resumed if disturbed. Steam has ensured fans can pre-load their games for a long time now, and now consoles need to catch up.
Above all, promises should not be made if they cannot be kept. When Sony told fans they could pre-load GTA V on the 13th, they should have stuck with it. Especially with a title as highly anticipated as this. Sony had essentially taken fans money, and not held up their end of the bargain. At the end of the day, after being let down this time, will gamers use digital downloads for the next instalment, or for any future title? The likelihood is that they will at least be put off. Personally, I would not like to pay more, for very few benefits.
This news seems to highlight how the industry is not truly ready for all-digital platforms. If the future of game distribution is via downloadable content, then these companies need to learn from such mistakes, and implement features to ensure it does not happen again. PC gaming is perfectly capable of it, and for consoles to remain a leading force in the game industry, they need to match it.