Are All-Digital Consoles The Way Forward?

The latest console generation had brought with it some rather exciting offerings, with the Xbox Series X and the PlayStation 5 taking centre stage. Whilst both consoles are undoubtedly more powerful than their predecessors, the inclusion of all-digital editions from both manufacturers raises an important point – are disc-less consoles the way forward? 

What Chances Are There Of Digital Consoles Becoming The Norm?

It’s important to point out that just because both Microsoft and Sony have released versions of their respective consoles that don’t feature any need for discs that it doesn’t spell the immediate end for physical copies of games. Whilst optical media still remains a part of people’s lives when it comes to CDs, DVDs and also games, there’s no real sign of the disc-less consoles taking over just yet. It was only towards the end of the last generation then Microsoft took the plunge by releasing an all-digital Xbox One S – the smaller and lighter brother to the more powerful One X.

For the new generation, though, they have taken the same line and aren’t offering, at release, the Series X as an all-digital option (though, they will offer the Series S alternative). This obviously shows that, in Microsoft’s eyes, there’s still going to be demand for physical games in the future, and means that disc-less consoles aren’t likely to become as wide-reaching as first anticipated. Fundamentally, whilst the option for a disc is still there, the likelihood is that discs will still prevail.

Moreover, the need and desire for physical games is only heightened by the fact that digital copies usually stay at one constant price throughout their lifespan on a console. For instance, even though Forza Horizon 4 was released a few years ago for the Xbox One, it regularly stays at the RRP of £49.99 in the UK Microsoft store, despite being cheaper as a physical copy due to it being an older title.

The only real instances when digital editions of games become cheaper are during seasonal sales such as at Christmas or during Black Friday. As a result of this, physical games are still an attractive proposition to most gamers and it would take more regular sales on both Microsoft and Sony’s own game stores to get more people interested in owning just digital titles.

Is The Change Therefore Inevitable?

On the other hand, however, with one half of the gaming console duopoly offering a subscription service in Game Pass and the higher tier Game Pass Ultimate, it’s hard to ignore the behavioural nudge towards downloaded content. Outside of the console sphere, digital storefronts such as Steam and the Epic Games Store have got gamers in the palm of their hands when it comes to offering great deals for a convenient way of getting games.

As a result, it’s become increasingly rare for gamers to have actual copies of games in their libraries and make use of physical mediums to play not just games but also music and films for instance. Laptops, in this day and age, rarely ship with disc drives and it’s also becoming difficult to find gaming towers with a DVD drive as well. It’s only a matter of time before this lack of ability to make use of physical copies extends into the console world fully, so all digital consoles may, in the next few years, become the way forward. 

Leading on from this, it’s not just in the circles of gaming where online libraries are becoming the norm. In video streaming, the likes of Netflix and Amazon Prime Video have become market leaders in distributing online content, which has, in turn, negated the need for people to watch films and TV shows on DVD. This catalysed the downfall of the age of video rental and places such as Blockbuster. It’s been with the advent of the internet age that convenience has become the main thing that consumers care about and this has extended into all corners of the web.

It’s certainly true in places such as online casinos where the entire premise of such websites is based around ease of use and access. Sites such as William Hill Games offer a large variety of games ranging from the classic casino experience of roulette and blackjack and a wide range of themed slots. There’s even the option, thanks to advances in web technology, to have games such as roulette with live dealers.

There’s certainly a compelling argument to be made for all digital consoles being the way forward when it comes to gaming. Moves online in other connected industries makes the transition seem inevitable for gamers, but the continued offering of physical games and consoles with the ability to play them brings the likelihood of an immediate transition into question. It may well be the future, but we’ll definitely be waiting a bit for the privilege.

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