Whether you want to accept it or not, this industry is moving more and more towards and all digital future. This isn’t to say that physical media will ever go away, but there will come a time when most games are released digitally. With that being said, there are many who are opposed to this.
People like their physical games and they’ll need some persuading to buy a title digitally. Game companies know this and some are already starting to make the necessary moves to sway people over to buying games digitally instead of retail. In other words: we’re already seeing this happening.
Let’s look at Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes. The retail versions for the Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 will cost $30 while the digital versions will cost $20. The current gen versions for Playstation 4 and Xbox One will cost $40 for retail and $30 digitally. No matter what platform you buy the game for, you’ll save $10 if you get the digital version. Here, getting the game cheaper is the incentive to buying it digitally.
inFAMOUS: Second Son will cost $60 no matter if you buy it digital or retail. The difference is that by pre-ordering the digital edition (announced yesterday) you’ll get exclusive content not found in the retail version. The digital edition will contain in game missions that show the events that lead up to Delsin’s story in Second Son. While we don’t know how long or significant this content will be, it’s certainly more meaningful than, let’s say, your usual downloadable content (DLC) where players receive extra costumes and weapons for your character (although a new costume is available after beating these missions).
This isn’t to say that people who buy retail won’t be able to get their hands on this content… they’ll just have to pay a bit more. It’s a bit shady but I can see companies offering digital exclusive content to those who bought the retail version for an extra $5-$15.
It’s going to be hard to remain a “retail only” buyer if the digital edition of a game is not only cheaper but has content that the retail version doesn’t.
This is the beginning of a push towards an all-digital future. When companies dangle things like cheaper prices and exclusive content in gamers faces its going to be hard to resist getting the digital version over the retail one.