Physical format vs digital format: which one do we choose and why?

We have just entered the last third of 2018, and we are back to our old ways with whether physical format or digital format when what is coming our way over the next few years is video game streaming (that is, more digital impossible). But from time to time, it is good to go back to what topics to talk about and see if our opinion has changed over the years or if, on the contrary, we continue to think the same as a decade ago.

For this reason, those of us who make up the VidaExtra team present, one by one, our vision of why we buy physical and digital games.

Alex CD

The texts that my colleagues will have prepared, at least those of a couple of them, will try to defend one of the two formats to the death. And what I want to do is take this opportunity to examine some of the decisions that I have made to date when buying a physical or digital game and try to see what the future has in store for us: no crystal ball or anything.

I think that no one can imagine right now a future in which the physical format will be imposed again. That said, and for many digital video games I have bought, I still pay for some physical-form titles. In any case, the decision is never given by any preference for the format itself, but comfort. Sometimes, being in a large area where I have gone for something else, I end up taking a physical game simply by having it at hand. Others, at home, instead of ordering it by mail and waiting a day or two for it to arrive, I buy it digitally, and in a couple of hours, I’m playing it.

I’m talking about console games. You can get the games at meager prices with Steam, GOG, and almost any other digital store that you can think of on PC. There is a rather absurd situation on consoles from the consumer’s point of view: the same game on digital costs more than on physical. I give an example of a recent decisive game: ‘Marvel’s Spider-Man’ for PS4 costs 69.99 on the PSN and 59.99 on Amazon. Even paying shipping costs is still cheaper in a format that must be manufactured and transported in trucks than one formed by ones and zeros. And I ended up buying it digitally for sheer convenience and immediacy.

Finally, there is a lot of talk about streaming video games. And I think that the fear of some of this way of playing is given because the current situation is not ideal, but in a few years, when the most common Internet connections will be high-speed, the latency problem will be solved entirely. , playing streaming is going to be like hitting play on Netflix to watch any series or movie. It will arrive yes or yes, and it will coexist with the download of games and the physical format, although the latter will become a minority.

Alex CD

R. Marquez

What do I think about the struggle between the physical and the digital? Well, I live in a relatively modest three-bedroom apartment where four people live together, and there is no room for much more. I can understand that some value the idea of ​​collecting because I have also been there to a greater or lesser extent, but after eating two moves, I have decided that this is not for me.

The games, figures, and other gadgets give me zero and nothing, and they are also a nest of dust unnecessary considering that I do not provide them with any use. Sure, it would be nice to play X tomorrow, but that means saving X, the console it works on, and the cables that come with it. Objects to keep in good condition for a lifetime in case one day, in a few years, I get to play one afternoon at a title that nostalgia will take care of selling me better than it was.

It is not something negative against the practice of collecting or wanting to have that opportunity tomorrow; it is simply a personal decision in the face of the uncontrolled accumulation of books, movies, series, and video games that took hold of me at some point in the last 15 years. I decided that comics and books stayed, but everything else went out the door—no more boxes. CDs, DVDs, and Blu-ray discs jumped into empty reels or filing cabinets that have ended up taking up a tiny part of what everything else used up.

Digital consumption is the daily bread at home, both at video games and other types of entertainment. Although I can indeed understand to what extent it is problematic to pay for a game that tomorrow may not you can enjoy, I am also well aware that in ten years, I have zero interest in returning to regular X . And if it sprouts because you never say this water I will not drink or this priest is not my father, I will find a way to access it.

R. Marquez

Frankie MB

I prefer to read books and magazines on paper, which does not prevent, if I look back, I realize that this year the vast majority of my acquisitions and whims have been in digital format except on Nintendo Switch. I explain.

It’s been more than five years since I let go of any game. I think I remember that it was to benefit from a discount for reserving the ‘FIFA’ of yore the last few times. Something I stopped doing with … ‘FIFA 13’? Of course, the possibility of reselling does not give me any added value, basically because I keep my games and prefer to uninstall them to accumulate boxes.

The reality today is that with the theme of season passes, themed missions, daily and weekly challenges, battle passes, and other similar inventions, I always end up alternating between games. And maybe I’m getting old, but saving changing discs six times on any given afternoon, especially if they come home to play, is something I value more than piling up more and more boxes of games. But of course, there are exceptions.

Frankie MB

On the other hand, the minimal 30GB margin that Switch offers means that most of my games are on the cards. So I make a distinction between the long-haul games (‘ Zelda: Breath of the Wild, ” Octopath Traveler, ” Skyrim ‘) that I buy on a card and those I play more often, like ‘ Fortnite, ” Rocket League, ” Overcooked 2 ‘and -especially- the two Street Fighters. Titles for which I bet in digital with a fixed shot.

Even though I try to limit myself to buying what amuses me and I am passionate about, and that I plan purchases months (with a closed budget for the digital sales of each season), the digital format not only brings me comfort but also whims sporadic through occasional sales and that – unfortunately – the physical form cannot offer.

I can understand those who have a more romantic view of the physical format. And I admit that if it is by collecting boxes, it would be hypocritical of me to destroy that kind of passion. But while I cannot part with my NES games (except with the Mini NES or the Switch classics), I have assumed that, with what I already have, I am not going to buy another cartridge or intend unless it’s gold, of course.

Sergio Cejas

When we decided to give our point of view about the best format to have our video games, I was clear about my opinion from the first moment. I have been enjoying this great hobby all my life, and to this day, I continue to keep my games with their respective boxes and instruction manuals (when there were any) of all the consoles that I have been acquiring. Whenever possible, I will bet on physical rather than digital.

Unfortunately, there are some that I ended up throwing out when I was little because of their large size, like the one from ‘Illusion of Time’ or ‘Secret of Evermore’, something that I still regret today. If I had to put any problem with this format, it is a large amount of space you need at home to store everything.

However, looking at the shelf and seeing the boxes with those great classics is priceless. In addition, when observing them, I feel that they are mine, that I can play them whenever I want, especially how well all the boxes fit with their different logos and colors. On the other hand, with the digital format, you only see names, or you do not have absolute control over what you have been acquiring unless you turn on the console and review your list of games.

Another big drawback that I see with the digital format is that we have seen occasions in which companies decide to withdraw their titles from stores. If you did not buy them at the time, you would be without them forever. On the other hand, although it is also almost impossible to find them with some physical games, at least the possibility of obtaining them is still present.

That does not mean that it also has digital games, especially because some are only distributed in this way and because other minor titles give me a bit of the same and with which an exception can be made. Anyway, it would not be the first time I rejected a good offer from an online store to wait for a similar one in physical form to have the game with my box and its disc or cartridge, something that I plan to continue doing. At the same time, the companies keep offering both options.

Sergio Cejas


Being in the age of the Internet, the digital format’s boom compared to the physical one is logical, and there are not a few who say that the latter has the hours counted. But I think it will never disappear, because there are the vinyl or the books, for example. That nostalgia factor and that need to feel that we have something other than a mere concept are essential for those who enjoy this addictive artistic interpretation.

If the debate is about what is better, I have it clear: the physical format. Although I am very sorry for the neglect it has suffered in certain aspects, such as that there are hardly any instructions manuals, it still has a charm that digital lacks. Seeing our collection neat on a shelf is priceless. And in addition, it is more practical and amortizable in the long run. Oh, and it can be borrowed.

It is not only the mere fact that we are only holders of a license (which could expire in the future), but we have already seen how games have been withdrawn from digital stores. If we buy them previously, there is the option to download them again. Still, this task is usually quite cumbersome when diving through hidden library sections or whose search process is tremendously slow.

Then there is the fact that digital input is more expensive (a game of 69.99 euros we can get for just over 50 euros on Amazon and the like) and that if we don’t like it, we have to eat it with potatoes, with exceptions, such as Steam. However, some take advantage of the tessitura to throw a lot of anger, like those returns of ‘No Man’s Sky’ after having played 50 hours.

The digital versus the physical can compete for weekly offers since there are usually notable differences in some cases. I have never bought digital games that have also been physical, except for very slight exceptions with discounts that place them at just over 10 euros. But I believe that both formats can continue to coexist flawlessly. This diversity is good, and the most significant beneficiaries are us, the users, by opting for the design with the biggest bargain.