As someone who buys basically all of their games in a hard copy form, there is only a small handful of benefits I get to take advantage of. Naturally, there’s always the great feeling of holding that shiny plastic box in my hands, but I can also play games as soon as I put the disc in, and I’m able to maintain a healthy level of free space on my console’s hard drive. But that was all last generation; now there really are no practical benefits to buying physical, and soon, to even buying a console at all.
While nowadays physical games do only take sixty minutes or less to install, it’s the patches that really kill me. It seems that if you don’t have incredibly speedy internet, patches can have a load time of hours, and thanks to the modern gaming industry, every title seems to include some sort of day one patch that is always going to be mandatory for a game’s online component. Now all of that sucks, but it would at least be bearable if those same installs and patches didn’t clog up storage space like a morbidly obese aeroplane passenger, forcing other passengers—games—to disembark and be booted off the flight.
Honestly, I can’t remember the last time I bought a game without first deleting something else before playing it. These days, games themselves take up a heinous amount of storage space, sometimes needing more than fifty gigabytes of free space just to get the tedious loading process started, and that’s before the inevitable patches that will await. The real sad part is losing all the saved data from the games that are deleted in order to make way for the new ones. Often I look to the future, where someday I’ll uncover all of my old consoles and begin enjoying the games I have for it. Unfortunately, when I get to my PS4, my library will be neutered based on what I have already installed, unable to go back to titles that were deleted to make way for DOOM’s big fat seventy-gigabyte ass.
What really annoys me about this problem, is how it wasn’t foreseen by any of the major console manufacturers. Buying the PS4 at launch, I naively expected the five-hundred-gigabyte storage to last me until the generation’s end. However, now I’m forced to look into replacing with a terabyte hard drive, only to see that even that’s not going to be enough, with games getting bigger by the year. Perhaps it was the intention of Sony and Microsoft to do this, wanting people to later upgrade to the likes of the PS4 Pro and the Xbox One S.
Throughout this piece, I have been mostly lighthearted and jokey with the issue at hand. But this is actually a problem that has a bigger spread than most would think, affecting more than just bitter gamers such as myself. As consoles desperately battle against PCs while also becoming more like them in every way, they also seem to be losing all of what made them great in the first place. In the past, you could’ve argued that computer gaming was cumbersome and inconvenient, but now that consoles are basically the same way, all that remains are the benefits of PC gaming that can’t be replicated on consoles—better graphics, performance, etc. PlayStation and Xbox (more so PlayStation) have basically only one trick up their sleeves left: convenience. But now that games require lengthy patches, long installation times, and a huge amount of storage space, that one positive to console gaming is now lost.