Debate: Will PS4 mark the last generation of boxed games?

With the PS4 built for an online digital world and downloadable games becoming more and more prevalent, is the sun setting on boxed retail games? Let’s ask four of the Official PlayStation Magazine UK team what they think.

Ben WilsonBen Wilson, editor

“Why do special editions of games like Assassin’s Creed, Bioshock Infinite and Ni No Kuni sell out? Because gamers love boxed stuff”

Ezio figurines. Elizabeth art books. Die-hards lap up these goodies, and games companies know it. You almost certainly download your music, but if your favourite band released a CD of lost B-sides in a shiny sleeve, you’d snap it up. From Amazon rather than HMV, but the point stands. The same logic applies to films and, yes, games. So while the future will be fully downloadable, boxed editions aren’t going away. The 40-Year-Old Virgins of this world won’t allow it. I should know. I’m one of them.

 

Joel GregoryJoel Gregory, deputy editor

“The pristinely ordered hard drive will be the new alphabetised DVD shelf” 

Sorry, I can’t quite hear you over the noise of my CD player. Let me turn it down and pause this VHS and I’ll be with you. I am, of course, exaggerating for comic effect, but you get the point. Technology marches forward even more impressively than those Emperor penguins Morgan Freeman loves so much, and no amount of plaintive cries from the hoarders will stop it. How many more things do you download or stream today than when PS3 launched nearly seven years ago? Now jump seven years further down the line: PSN downloads and gaming equivalents of services such as Netflix will be the standard.

 

David MeiklehamDavid Meikleham, acting news editor

“Until the UK’s broadband pipes are nippier, I’ll always choose to get physical”

As a man whose Blu-ray collection sits neatly ordered below his TV, I fully appreciate the value of a beautiful collection of physical media. And after a finger-burning experience downloading inFamous 2 – just the 36 hours, if you were wondering – I’ll stick with it until UK broadband speeds radically improve. There’s also the issue of space when installing full-size games: Cole’s heroic jaunt weighed in at 15GB, and other games are even more hefty. So unless broadband speeds rocket and PS5 packs in a 3TB HDD, there’ll always be a place for Dr Disc. That place, right between the Cs and Es.

 

Leon HurleyLeon Hurley, associate editor

“The days of buying a disc and then introducing it to your machine are on the way out”

That doesn’t mean they won’t still exist – much like you can still buy vinyl or encyclopaedias – but the discless revolution has arrived. Most people already don’t give a second thought to all their Kindle, iPod and iPhone content existing up in heaven. Or that a lack of a physical object affects their ownership of it. Internet speeds are improving, cloud systems are becoming the norm and PS4 is built to ease in a digital future, with background downloading to make buying and playing online quicker. You may start the generation peeling off the cellophane, but you’ll finish it clicking ‘play now’.