Digital gaming
4 / against

Digital gaming

28 February 2013 | 7:30 am

Technology has given us the ability to place unlimited gaming collections in something that is not even tangible. But what will future generations of gamers miss out on when everything lives in the cloud?

Technology has increased at such a rapid rate over the past decade that, as it evolves, our lives change alongside it. And with new technologies comes an ever-increasing amount of information that needs to be stored.

The solution to the problem of limited space – and quite a genius one at that – is now known as the cloud. While it’s not a new invention by any stretch of the imagination, the cloud has recently entered the common vernacular, and everyone who is online – whether a 10-year-old video game fanatic or a multinational CEO – uses it in their daily lives. There is no question that it is an environmentally friendly solution to unnecessary paper and packaging, but just how does the cloud affect the future of gaming?

For

Look around your local video game store and you’ll see prices that will shock you. Paying $100+ for a brand new game that only lasts a handful of hours is moronic, but parents who simply don’t know any better continue to fork out the dough in order to quell their children’s screams.

Digital gaming means no useless packaging and therefore (potentially) cheaper games. The problem at the moment for console gamers is that, without competition, Sony and Microsoft (and the publishers, of course) can set the prices as high as they like. This won’t last long however, and PC developers know all too well how much money they can earn from things like the Steam Summer Sale and Humble Indie Bundle, where gamers pay just a few dollars for several of the latest games.

Another positive for the digital industry is subscription-based gaming – and it is no doubt the way of the future. Sony’s PlayStation Plus offers gamers the chance to buy monthly or yearly subscriptions to the service (usually in the vicinity of $50-$60 per year – far less than a brand new game in Australia) and then provides them with three or four free games to download every month. The only catch is that at the end of the subscription, the games are no longer playable – but by that time you will have either finished the game, or tried and not bothered to go back to it. The quality of games is exceptional as well, and newcomers need not worry that they will be paying a decent amount of money for unknown titles.

Against

For myself, as well as many children of the ’80s and ’90s, gaming was my main hobby of choice. As I have grown, my collection has as well, and I now boast hundreds of video games from myriad consoles that date back as far as 1989. Go for a quick search online and you’ll find gamers who house seemingly limitless collections of their video games – something that is all but lost for the next generation of gamers.

The cloud means that titles are now entirely downloadable – free of packaging. While this is great for the environment, it also takes away from the reality of ownership. Not to mention that once a game is purchased online and downloaded, there is no chance for trading it in to the local EB for a discount on another title.

The only chance for those who download games to earn something back is for a system to be implemented where the publisher buys back the digital copy for a small fee. While this doesn’t sound like a monetarily sound notion, that fee could be used exclusively for future purchases with that same publisher – not perfect, but it would go some way to convincing old-school gamers that there is some worth in purchasing digital games.

The verdict

It’s true – a future without vast video game collections to line the walls of your den does seem grim, but if the competition of digital PC sales and subscription services like PlayStation Plus are anything to go by, there is a lot to look forward to in the digital gaming era.

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