Physical vs. digital copies of media. An argument that’s existed for the last few console generations. Digital saves space, streamlines shopping, and makes organizing our media easier. Physical lets you actually interact with and own the product in question, allows for resale, and can function as decoration. Both sides have pretty solid arguments, but the delisting of Gran Turismo Sport proves a huge point against digital media and games as a service.
Gran Turismo Sport was delisted earlier this month, with no way to obtain a new copy digitally. Meaning if you didn’t own the game prior to this, you’re almost out of luck. Many suspect part of the reason behind the decision was so the studio can focus more on the current mainline title GT7 while funneling players there. This move leaves players who have yet to upgrade consoles high and dry. Regardless of the reason, it goes against the consumer in every way. Before now, it was normal for previous gen consoles to get phased out with no NEW games being produced. But now games are completely disappearing from that generation?
What Does That Mean for Us?
This is just a small example of the future that may follow for the gaming community. A future driven mad with the fear of missing out. One where if you missed one of the biggest games of the last generation, you’re out of luck. Okay, that may be hyperbolic, but it may not be far from the truth either. Similar things have happened in other platforms. One event of more recent memory is users losing any purchased media when Google discontinued their Play media store. I’ll never forget trying to listen to my mp3’s and being redirected to YouTube music. But when I got there I couldn’t access any of my purchased media.
I love physical media as much as the next person, but surely there must be a balance to be found in video game preservation. If companies don’t want to deal with piracy of games of past generations, they must ensure that they are operating within the good will of the consumers. They need to ensure that the games we love today aren’t so easily taken away tomorrow. The problem is, that may not be the profitable direction. This also points out the problem of games as a service. A game built around a model of microtransactions and quick cash will only last as long as it’s profitable. This leaves the shelf life of games more unpredictable, as they can basically become vaporware at the push of a button.
We’re only seeing the earlier stages of this now with the closing of 6th gen digital stores and most recently with GT Sport, but if allowed to go too far, we may see a day where you’re just required to play the latest, or play nothing at all. Emulation is illegal, and original physical copies of discontinued games can be difficult to find. The options aren’t exactly plentiful nor stress free for the average enthusiast, and that isn’t how it has to be. Still, there’s no need to be pessimistic. There are many things in place to preserve games. And one day it’ll be a bit easier.
But for now, there is an important discussion to be had regarding digital media and ownership, as well as games as a service. What do you think about the idea of games being completely pulled from the PlayStation store like this? How do you think this can be handled? Let us know in the comments!