When I moved recently I had a lot of boxes – a LOT of boxes. Around half of them contained my collection of physical media - games, movies and music.
As I find that many of my friends are abandoning physical purchases for digital downloads, I boggle at some of the reasons that I’m given. “It saves me getting up and going to the shop.” Uh, ever heard of this new-fangled thing called the internet, and online ordering? Or my favourite, “It saves me getting up and going to the shelf to get it”. Hello couch potato stereotype!
There are more valid reasons for going digital than these, of course. If you just want it now – now, now, now, now, NOW – then fair enough. If you move a lot or have little space then, well, see the bit about boxes above. Also, duh, some games only exist in the digital space.
Otherwise, give me a physical version any day. I’ve even waited to order limited edition discs of once physical-only titles such as Firewatch and Rez Infinite to fuel my lust for tangible items. Something to hold, artwork to savour – and that satisfying whiny noise the PS4 makes when swallowing a disc.
Then there are those elaborate collector's editions. Books, figurines and other useless but fun ephemera. Hey, try downloading a limited edition LEGO minfigure (smartypantses with 3D printers, please hold your tongues...)
There are also more practical reasons for collecting physical copies of games, movies and music. Get sick of something? You have a potentially valuable asset to sell or trade with others. Worst case, if you hit the skids financially you can sell parts of the collection off to make rent (the ragged remainder of my Nintendo 64 games are screaming, “Please never let that happen to us again!”)
Ever forgotten if you own this or that movie or game? It's much easier to check a shelf than it is to root about myriad files – especially on a console.
As for movies and music, if it matters to you, quality is a huge issue. A Blu-ray disc holds around 25GB of data. Downloading that would be bad enough (especially with some of the teensy internet plans many are still stuck with nowadays), let alone actually storing a reasonable movie collection. As such, things tend to get compressed down to more manageable file sizes, losing quality visually and sonically. No thanks! With the arrival of higher resolution 4K Ultra HD discs the figures blow out much more – so much more that my maths-crappy brain gave up trying to calculate it beyond it being three figures of GB per movie.
So, as long as they make the media that I love in formats that can be touched – and Ikea make their very helpful Kallax cube units – I’ll be keeping my collection physical.
If only I was this resolute about physical activity...