[Op] The PlayStation 5 and all-digital Xbox One S represent disparate futures.
67 replies, posted
Physically, the optical drive is a small feature, but it represents a gigantic shift in the video game ecosystem. Streaming video games are on their way, whether established broadband networks are ready or not, and the industry is moving toward a borderless, cross-platform, digital-focused marketplace.
Sales of physical media have been steadily declining for the past decade, according to Statista. In 2009, 80 percent of all game sales came from physical discs and cartridges, and just 20 percent was digital. By 2017, those figures had swapped, with 80 percent of the industry's software sales stemming from digital transactions. Even Nintendo, a company that's been historically reluctant to add online features to its games and consoles, has finally embraced modernity with the Switch, allowing cross-platform play, adding online features and building out its digital store.
This has all been a long time coming for Microsoft. When it announced the Xbox One in 2013, it pitched the console as an "always-on" device that would be regularly connected to Microsoft servers, offering on-the-fly updates and digital downloads galore. But, players hated the idea of forced connectivity and after a few weeks of pushback, Microsoft reversed course and announced the Xbox One would function just like a traditional console, no online functions required.
At the time, Sony was soaking in schadenfreude and pitching the PlayStation 4 as something familiar but better, no internet connection required and no restrictions on game sharing. Sony trolled Microsoft with a skit demonstrating how easy it was to share used games, something that sounded complex in the Xbox One's always-on, digital-focused biosphere. In the video, a Sony executive simply handed a game disc to another executive.
My opinion on the matter: Microsoft may have been ahead of the trend this entire time. Regardless, the article is a good read as these new consoles come in, we may have a total shift in how the industry works.
I prefer physical media, but the industry has already made them irrelevant with huge day one downloads necessary to play the game. Maybe if they could make 200 GB blurays or revert to cartridges again.
There are a few trends staring in the face of continued usage of optical physical media in consoles:
-Home video sales continue to decline year over year, with streaming becoming more and more the method of choice
-The drives are too slow to stream the massive amounts of data on them at any sort of useful speed, so they are only useful for initial payload install and license management
-games as a service rendering the contents of some discs irrelevant day 1, or not long after release, defeating one of the few benefits
-Consumer trends outside of the console market (such as mobile phones) wherein the debate over physical media never happened, it has been all digital as long as it has been relevant
-modern consumers eager to eliminate the bulk of having physical possessions for their media as a whole
I think the next gen of consoles is definitely set to be the last for the presence of physical media. and I wholly expect Microsoft and Sony to continue the migration towards disc-less consoles. Nintendo is in a bit of a different position due to their use of flash media, and the smaller form factor of their choice of storage. Sony took the opportunity to grandstand a bit with the PS4 (no doubt due to MS poor handling of the communication surrounding what the disc-less option in the xbone was going to be) but they no doubt *want* to eliminate physical media as well.
Microsoft have a massive advantage with their services and thus far Sony has done nothing to instil confidence in their own userbase let alone potential first year buyers.
Playstation as a whole has been a slog this generation from the service to the hardware and there's no indication whatsoever that Sony knows how to come out of the gate swinging.
Microsoft are definitely on the smart side of this. Digital is the way to go at this point, and it'll be sad to see physical media go, but the convenience is just too grand. The only way I see physical media surviving is if they allow you to redeem the game digitally as well, so you don't HAVE to use the disc in the future, but that'll never happen.
Whilst I definitely prefer digital purchases over physical ones, I'm still not certain we're in the position, globally particularly, where we can write off physical purchases of games. If you've got a shitty internet connection, even having to download a patch is far more preferable to downloading whole games, particularly modern ones.
I also still buy physical games for PS4 solely due to pricing - they're universally cheaper than the PS4 store at the point of release, and I'm pretty sure I remember the Xbox 360 being similar, though I can't comment on XBone games. I guess not having to worry about pissing off retailers might drive down the price of games on a digital only console?
I just worry about what happens when the services go dark. For the Wii when the Wii Shop Channel shut down earlier this year, Nintendo has made it so that you can still download titles you can purchased. But I worry that if Microsoft decides to go nuclear on the Xbox 360 servers what will happen to the Games On Demand service. If they pull anything like what they did to Live 1.0 in 2010, nobody will be able to get anything. If that happens, how am I supposed to get the content I purchased digitally?
I'm not going to buy a console that's digital only until people have figured out how to pirate it. I don't want to be forever at the mercy of someones servers to play my games
I don't necessarily think physical has to die for there to be a more digital-focused future, although having digital-only SKUs that cost less for those who know they're not going to be getting physical copies is a nice option. Also bear in mind that the Xbone S All-Digital isn't Xbox's Gen9 offering like the PS5 will be.
I also hope we don't fall into the same "THIS IS YOUR NEXT CONSOLE" PlayStation fanboy hysteria that this generation kicked off with.
The best part about this is that it's now basically Sony fanboys vs. everyone else. Microsoft is releasing all their first party games day and date on Windows, and the Switch gets some of the goodies too, not to mention all the Nintendo games and also the fact that it basically owns the portable market.
Sony fanboys can say all they want, but we're all over here enjoying playing each other in crossplay.
Given that I live in a town with a single ISP that has a massive cuntfuck monopoly on Internet services, I'm not cool with digital being the future until this country has more effective broadband infrastructure. 250/500/750/1000GB data caps with no service for unlimited is bullshit. 1TB at $175 a month for internet and cable :/ and I know for a fact that my town isn't the only one that suffers under that greed.
the biggest perks of discs, poor internet & tradeins are IMO too good to pass up
From my experience, it's usually some nonsense about "the lion not concerning himself with the sheep". I really hope they get another PS3-level reputation bomb at this point. Sony's sheer dumb luck with the PS4 has gone to their heads.
I'd like to see cartridges with update partition. (Not without base ROM for the standard version though, that would be a game preservation nightmare.)
Afaik the problem with the dayone downloads isn't running out of space on the disk, it's that validating patches takes so long for consoles that instead of delaying the launch to print the 'final' build of the game, they just deliver it as a download once it goes live. Printing of the disks isn't that fast of a process so it needs to be scheduled.
I haven't had an optical disc drive installed in my PC since like 2014
Worth mentioning that the more expensive of the two Xboxes that are coming next generation will be the only one with a disc drive; the cheaper one hasn't got it.
It'll be sad to see physical media go. The used games market will essentially die. There'll be little competition meaning prices will stagnate (mediocre sales etc.). It will also likely lead to the death of game stores, as used games are their most profitable business.
Additionally, it will further increase the grip that a service has on your games. Whereas a physical disk would be essentially playable forever (barring degradation), digital services can shut down with all your games disappearing as well. It might not happen within 10 years, but good luck playing your games in 50 years. I certainly hope talented programmers will find a way to preserve digital games (break their encryption and possibly emulate) and make them available online in the future.
He got canned shortly after this. Stupid man wanted the Xbox to be a TV entertainment machine rather than gaming first.
Honestly, a cartridge slot would probably make for a cheaper console than a disc drive at this point, on top of being able to cram stupid amounts of flash memory into a small space at this point for relatively cheap whereas we've been stuck at Blu-Ray since the mid-2000s on the disc side, at least as far as standard formats go. It's quite the reversal from 25 years ago. There's a reason Switch went back to cartridges, considering they have a capacity that approaches Blu-Ray, have writable storage for saves, no moving parts, and yet don't raise the game's MSRP at all.
Pirates will (continue to) be the only ones giving us the chance to play old, forgotten, unavailable games
Some games are more expensive on the Switch, require additional downloads, or have performance issues from heavy compression (Rayman Origins). And next gen games will be a lot larger than Switch games, many will suprass 200gb in size, which would be very expensive to put on flash.
And then he jumped ship to OUYA. Good lord.
I thought he went to Zynga after Xbox?
Could have sworn I heard something about OUYA after the Xbox scandal but I could have mistaken it for someone else.
If games are expected to pass 200GB in size, then not even the fledgling Ultra HD Blu-ray (a new format that is to Blu-ray as HD-DVD was meant to be to DVD) will be able to handle them, let alone the widespread Blu-ray that's still used in the PS4 and Xbone, as well as likely the PS5 and Xbox 4.
Switch games still go up to 32GB at least. That's more than a single-layer Blu-ray even if it doesn't reach the 50GB of a dual-layer.
If it comes to it then manufacturers will just have to split game installations across multiple discs ie RDR2 or find another physical medium, not everyone has access to a decent internet connection that can reasonably handle 50GB+ downloads nevermind 200GB.
Plenty of games are already surpassing 100 gigs
Everyone talking about the con of everyone not having good internet, the caution I say to that is this: Will they care?
With profits in digital media booming, Microsoft and whoever else will follow the money and cater to them. Rural towns with shitty connections will be left in the dust unless a big enough fuss is made, and even then the burden of response will be shafted to the internet companies. And with Net Neutrality dead, we all know how that will be like.
Put it simply, if you don’t have the connection, you’ll likely be screwed, and Microsoft won’t notice since the good connection areas funnel in more than enough Xbox money to compensate. Just another example of modernization leaving people in the dust.
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