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Hypothetically Speaking: Next Gen Goes Purely Digital

Hypothetically Speaking: Next Gen Goes Purely Digital

Nov 15, 2013

Hypothetically Speaking is a series of short, hypothetical scenarios looking into the Gaming Industries potential future and past, had it taken an alternative route along the way as a means to prompt discussion. Join in the chat @GamingIQ  and comment below

Hypothetically Speaking, how would next gen consoles shape up if games could only be purchased digitally, and physical copies were discontinued?

Digital downloads are probably the future of gaming, but what if the Xbox One and Playstation 4 were to announce that they would discontinue with physical copies in the next few years?

Obviously, people without internet access will not be able to access the games, but what if, like in Finland, broadband became a legal right? The internet has fast become an essential tool in the workplace, at home, schools and for socialising. If everybody had a legal right to the internet, surely purchasing games digitally without a physical counterpart will feel like less of a burden.

Another thing to note is that the demographic for gamers usually overlaps with internet users. Sure, they might not have access to the premium online services, such as Xbox Live Gold membership or Playstation +, but it just seems that gaming and internet access go hand-in-hand.

Download speeds might be an issue, but having to demonstrate patience once in a while could be healthy (or just infuriating) . Furthermore, imagine if you could pre-load launch games to your console, and as soon as it turned midnight, you could jump straight into the game without having to wait.

One would hope that digital copies should be cheaper than the physical counterparts, as there is no physical manufacturing/shipping of the product. However, people could argue that their console hard-drive may fill up too fast because of digital downloads, but most console games encourage you to install from your disc anyway. In addition, if you are a collector and like to hoard things (like myself), it might be sad to learn the amount of gaming boxes on your shelf will not get any bigger.

Imagine what it could mean to the gaming industry if the PS4 and Xbox One underachieved in their first year.

It would be a big step for next gen to go solely digital, but is it really that far outside the realms of possibility?

For the time being, perhaps gamers, as a whole, aren’t quite ready for a purely digital future just yet – the outcry of the proposed “always online” for the Xbox One supports this belief. Maybe when the rest of the us can follow in Finland’s footsteps and make broadband a legal right for all households, perhaps then we will be ready for an all-in digital take-over.

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