As much as I love Steam and other digital retailers like GOG.com, it still makes me a bit sad (and angry) when I walk into a Brick and Mortar store like Future Shop and see the PC Games section being overtaken by the consoles. I remember a few years back when EB Games stopped taking PC Games for trade-in. This one particular arrogant employee told me that they don’t take PC Games anymore because nobody buys them and in a few years they will be phased out of their stores completely. Say what? I was not happy.
Well, here we are in 2012 and there are still PC Games in Brick and Mortar stores, but it certainly ain’t what it used to be. Why is that? I guess part of it is to reduce the environmental footprint that physical media generates, but I think the bigger issue is cost. With the advent of digital retailers, developers are able to get their game out to the people without having to spend a fortune on packaging, print media, and DVDs. Of course, this has several advantages for the consumer: namely, that the product can be delivered more quickly and sold at a lower price-point (example: digital copy of Torchlight II for $20 USD vs. physical copy of Diablo III for $60 USD).
However, I still can’t shake the fond memories I have as a kid going to the local computer store to look at all the games. I loved looking (and touching) all the game boxes with their flashy cover graphics, and fantasizing about what kind of adventures were to be had once I booted up the game. If I was lucky enough to get the game (thanks Dad!), my ride home was even more fun as I got to open the game box and look at its contents. It’s a shame that physical game manuals are a thing of the past too – you remember the mammoth-sized manuals you used to get with flight simulator games? What about goodies and extras? For me, getting a physical product with all these things makes me feel like I am getting more value for my money.
Anyways, I still love to go to my favourite games store just to look at all the boxes, open up their cover flaps, and even breathe in that new games smell. Some companies understand that there are still people out there like me, people that want a quality physical product that they can touch and feel. The good folks at CD Projekt Red understand this well: they created a fantastic boxed copy of their game, The Witcher 2, with tons of goodies and extras. Thank-you for making me feel special again.
To those developers, I salute you.