Physical Media or Download

Over the last few years in PC gaming you have had a choice between purchasing a game or piece of software through retailers and physically receiving the item for you to install. But nowadays alot of retailers are going for the download options which does have its advantages.

However one of the largest game portals is STEAM and whilst the concept of this media is great I still find I would rather have the CD / DVD in my hand. Is this me being materialistic or just stuck in my ways of purchasing items. Now dont get me wrong I have purchased many items over STEAM over the last few years and it is easy to do (sometimes overly easy as my  bank account agrees at times).

So I have decided to create this article to show the benefits of both.

Steam logoSteam : Steam has the capabilities of being the way we purchase media for a long time yet. You purchase a released game and you have instant access to download it and once complete away you go and play. With pre-orders you sometimes get to preload the game and at release date it automatically unlocks so you can immediately play.  All your games are stored on your account and if you ever have to do the dreaded format you can restore them from a backup or simply re-download them. I have had my account since steam was released in 2003 and amassed 30-40 titles through it over this period probably spending too much. But this isn’t all STEAM is, its a portal where you can join through friends to the game they are playing , start conversations, create communities and lately show others your screenshots of that great moment in a game.

The downsides to STEAM are still quite high for me at the moment, especially where if your PC fails to boot you may have to reinstall every game from download and  if you think that most games currently are 2-15GB in size and the caps from ISPS on bandwidth you could be in a long wait to get all your games reinstalled. In my opinion when downloading from steam the majority of the time download speeds fluctuate rather highly adding to the time also. Steam also like you to be connected to the Internet, but although you can access it offline it still has its annoying features of sometimes not allowing you to play a game in ‘offline’ mode.

Purchased Media : The old fashioned way of physically receiving your CD / DVD is still favoured by alot of people. I still prefer this method as installing and reinstalling is alot easier than having to download vast amounts of data. I also find that this way tends to be cheaper than purchasing via downloads, for instance I recently purchased SHOGUN Total War 2 from a retailer for £24.99 whereas it was on sale on most download sites (STEAM , Direct to Drive) for £29.99, £5 may not seem much but if you add up all the differences over a period of time it can make a vast sum.

The downsides normally relate to delivery when ordering over the Internet as you are relying on the retailer to post the item quickly and the delivery service not to lose or delay it. Although 2-3 days extra isn’t a hardship in waiting for that new release you have been waiting for for months could be a pain. The only other issue for me is storage and having to find space for all the DVD cases, they soon mount up.

Overall : Until I am 100% happy with the way download services work and the ISPs can upgrade our broadband connections I think I will still be buying from retailers rather than download sources, but the future isn’t in this method. Before long I can foresee more console games being released in a grander scale to the download market but hopefully not for the foreseeable future as our Internet infrastructure is severely lacking in some parts of the country.

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