Physical Video Game Copies vs. Digital Copies – Which is Better?

In previous years there was only one way to purchase video games. You went to your local store and bought the video game which was on a disc or cartridge.

Now video game systems along with the technology that supports them have advanced to the point where we have another option – Digital Copies. These digital copies are downloaded directly to your video game console and allow you to play the game just as you would with a physical copy of the game.

So what type of copy (physical or digital) should you buy when you purchase your next video game? Is one type better than the other?

Physical copies and digital copies both have their own advantages and drawbacks. So we decided to examine this topic by taking a look at the pros and cons of each option. As part of this examination, we are taking a look at this issue from the perspective of someone who wants to pre-order a video game that hasn’t been released yet.

If you are new to the world of gaming you might not be familiar with the concept of pre-ordering games. You can read more about what pre-ordering of video games is here.

So let’s begin.

Physical Copy

The traditional way for pre-ordering a video game has been to go to your local video game retailer and purchasing the game ahead of time. Then on the day the game is released you can go to the store and pick up a physical video game disc or cartridge.

Some retailers might give you a few dollars off the game if you preorder or might even give you some sort of extras or bonuses for pre-ordering.

Pros of Physical Copies

  1. You have an actual copy of the game in your hands.
  2. You can borrow the game to friends.
  3. You can sell the physical game later and use the money to buy a different video game. This is especially helpful if you buy a lot of video games. If you have a lot of video games you probably won’t be playing the old ones very often and don’t want a ton of money tied up in them. So being able to sell the game later and recoup some of your money is a very positive thing.
  4. If you are willing to buy used games you can buy them for less than the price of new games. However, if you are trying to buy a game that has just been released you might have a harder time finding a used copy to buy.

Cons of Physical Copies

  1. You have to go to the store to pre-order the game and then again to pick it up when it is released.
  2. Picking up a video game on the release day usually means having to wait in long lines and sometimes late at night.
  3. You can lose the video game and won’t be able to play it until it is found.
  4. Having a lot of physical video games can take up a lot of storage space and create a lot of clutter around the house.

Digital Copy

Digital copies of video games are downloaded onto your video game system or associated storage device.

If you pre-order a digital copy of a video game you will either be able to download a copy immediately (being able to play it once the game is officially released) or download the game at the moment it is officially released.

Pros of Digital Copies

  1. They don’t create clutter or take up storage space in your house.
  2. When pre-ordering a digital copy of a game you will sometimes be able to download and play the beta version of the game BEFORE the final version is released, which is pretty fantastic for a game that you are really looking forward to getting and playing.
  3. You don’t have to worry about losing or misplacing them.
  4. More environmentally friendly since they don’t need/use the packaging that physical games require.
  5. You will have access to your games wherever you are.
  6. Digital copies of games can’t be stolen because they are associated with your individual account.
  7. You can avoid long lines and late nights as you won’t need to go to the store to pick up your game on the day it is released.

Cons of Digital Copies

  1. You can’t borrow the games to your friends.
  2. You won’t be able to sell the used game at the local video game store like you can with physical copies.
  3. On a similar note, you won’t be able to take advantage of the lower prices of physical copies of used video games if you only want to buy digital copies. That being said, to be fair you will find times when there are sales on digital copies of video games.

Which One is Best for You?

When deciding between Physical and Digital copies of video games it really comes down to what type of gamer/person you are.

If you buy a lot of games, finish playing them once, and then never play them again you will probably appreciate physical copies of video games. That way you will be able to sell them later and recoup some of your money to help you buy you more video games.

If you someone who likes to borrow games back and forth with your friends physical copies are the way you want to go. However, as for myself, this isn’t such a big issue. More often you will find that you and your friends will all own a copy of the same games and play together online in multiplayer mode. Because of the frequency of online gaming borrowing games to your friends is becoming less frequent for many people.

If you live in a small space and want to avoid clutter digital games will be a very attractive option.

Digital copies are also a great way to go if you like the convenience of downloading the games and not having to go to the store or wait in long lines.

If you don’t buy a lot of games and like to go back and play your old games you will probably be happy with both digital and physical copies. However, if you want the option of being able to sell the games late you will want to stick with physical copies.
Everyone is different and truth be told most of us will end up with a game library that is a combination of both digital and physical video game titles. That being said, one of them is probably a better fit for you than the other. Hopefully, this article helped you decide which one is best for you.

Links to Buy Physical and Digital Games By Console

Below are some links where you can browse through the best selling games for the current game systems.

Happy gaming!

About Dan G.
Dan G.

Dan is a video game enthusiast who has been playing games for over three decades. Starting out as an "old school" gamer, Dan has since embraced the modern age of gaming, thanks in part to his kids who inspired him to explore today's current consoles and games.

With a passion for video games and a desire to help others, Dan has become an expert in the field, specializing in video game consoles and hardware. Through his numerous articles and reviews he enjoys answering questions and helping parents understand the different options available for their kids.

If you're looking for expert advice on video games and consoles, Dan is a go-to source for reliable and informative information.