In the age of connectivity, it would not be unreasonable to assume that one of the benefits of this digital revolution would be the reduced price of downloadable games. Unfortunately with the PlayStation Store, you would be sadly mistaken. I am all for companies making a profit, however when the benefits are too one sided, is this not a breach of our concordant trust? In a world where water costs more than Coca-Cola at McDonald's (yes water, that stuff that literally falls from the sky!), can we really be surprised that Sony has us by the digital short and curlies?
Why Do We Buy It?
1) I Need it Now
The ease in how gaming is readily available through the click of a button should be a logical 'no brainer,' regardless of the depth of a person’s impulse. For many of us, the blatant price difference between the digital and physical equivalents holds our thumbs back in a frugal display of economic prudence. For countless others though, immediate satisfaction must be obtained. Sounds good in theory, but the receipt of the actual game is not instantaneous.
While you are downloading the data, you could have driven to the shops, purchased the game for half the price, stopped in at the pub for a quick pint, and still be home before the download has finished (disclaimer; I am going off Australian download speeds). It reminds me of patiently waiting for a game to load on the Commodore 64 tape drive. Great once it's done, but planning ahead is critical.
2) Because I Can
Who wants to drive to the shops, find a parking spot, walk in, find the game, stand in the queue, talk to the clerk, pay for the game, walk back to the car – oh please, first world problems if I ever heard them.
There is nothing wrong with buying a digital copy, but when you do, you need to own that, don’t make excuses. If you are willing to pay significantly more, it’s either because financially you can, you are lazy, or you just don’t give a toss. Irrespective of the why, the decision was an informed one, and even though you have brushed it off like last week’s chicken noodle soup, remember why you are slurping soup out of a cup.
3) The Tyranny of Distance
Admittedly, not everyone is either within close proximity to a retail outlet, or is able to make the journey due to mobility restrictions, time or access. In those circumstances the digital-only option makes sense. Ordering a physical copy by post can be a viable alternative, with patience and planning.
Understandably in instances of genuine adversity the profiteering of Sony’s digital content is deplorable. I am not saying Sony is going to profile accounts by distance, dependents or disabilities, but as consumers who buy their products, the love affair between both parties should be mutual.
4) Physical vs Superfluous
On one side of the fence is the tangible physical copy argument. Buying a physical game means you actually own something you can hold in your hands. Yeah the content on the disc is digital, but owning the actual physical game and seeing it on your shelf provides a sense of satisfaction. In addition, there are the box set inclusions that adds further enticement to buy a physical copy.
On the other side is the view that all of this stuff is nothing more than a superfluous clutter of pointless objects. Why do you physically need to own a box and a statue? The real benefit argument from this view point comes from the hours of fun playing the actual game.
5) I Work Hard For My Money
It is, more or less, inevitable that we are going to buy new games, movies and television shows. Unfortunately at the moment, Sony has us playing ten pin bumper bowling in an attempt to slowly bounce our decisions towards their digital content. By applying padding here and there with various online benefits, our normal perception of value for money erodes into the encompassing one stop shop of their platform. I am getting what I want, now, it’s easy and accessible - "I have bowled a strike!" At the end of the day just remember, money is still money, and I work hard for mine.
I would like to see digital content for games include trial periods or price matching policies that are comparable to retailers such as EB Games (or GameStop depending on your location). Imagine if there was! I am not an advocate for EB Games, but at least they have policies that make them a viable option. It is just up to the consumer whether they execute their rights to make the best possible deal.
Here are few quick tips, if you do choose to buy at EB Games or Best Buy:
- Always price check before paying their shelf price. EB Games and Best Buy will price match any price, so shop around and show them the price on your phone when at the counter. I don’t know how many times I have watched someone pay full price, only for me to step up next and receive a significant discount.
- EB Games and Best Buy both have a return policy. I have tested it out with three games, over three consecutive weeks – no problem. You don’t like it, take it back.
- I apologize because this one does not sit well with me ethically. If you are so inclined; price match the game and buy it at the cheaper rate, return it within seven days, and then go back and buy the same game at the second hand price. I have never done that, but I know people who have - I feel bad…..
Should You Change Your Ways?
The motivation to change your buying practices is purely a personal choice. The motivation, circumstance, influence or opportunity differs from person to person. Independent of the reasons why we choose to buy digital content from the PlayStation Store, the cause and effect of our collective decisions formulates the strategy applied in Sony’s content model.
It really should not be a complicated decision to buy digital, in the perfect world of connectivity and environmental accountability, digital should win hands down. Regrettably, this won't be the case until; the infrastructure of consoles can accommodate a full digital cross over, pricing becomes competitive, and people trust they will always have access to the content.