The Big Question: Do You Buy Digital Or Retail?

Here's a question I've been thinking about, particularly when it comes to PC games.

Do you buy digital versions of your games? Or do you buy them at retail?

I feel like currently we're seeing a resurgence in people buying games at retail stores, mainly because the exchange rate isn't as favourable as it once was and competition amongst big stores like Big W and Target has really driven the price of games down at Aussie retail.

Where are you currently buying your games?


    Digital for PC, retail for consoles.

      Yip, PC games are much cheaper digitally - gmg, g2a, humble store etc - they all try to outdo each other. Gmg almost always have a discount code for 20% off the rrp. Often their prices are below rrp to begin with.
      Consoles, on the other hand are almost always cheaper via retail, plus the possibility of a trade in. It's also nice to have the physical disc for consoles, because the hard drives are inadequate. Second hand games are even cheaper too.

        Yeah. I'm pretty sure there are 360 games that are still using their original retail price on XBOX Live. They randomly do decent discounts on those retail prices during monthly sales, but it's a good discount on a high price that goes straight back up once the sale is over. Once a game stops going on sale it's not worth buying.

      This all the way. The only reason I'd ever get a physical copy of a PC game is if it was for a collector's edition. Otherwise it's way easier to find a cheaper digital copy.
      For consoles I choose retail not only because they're usually cheaper than digital, but also the limited storage of consoles almost makes it a necessity if you have a large library of titles.

    I haven't bought a PC game at retail since I fished the Space Quest box set out of a bargain bin at Dick Smith back in the 90s. I went off PC gaming for awhile (and admittedly my friends pirated a fair amount back in high school). By the time I came back to PC gaming (I'm still mainly a console gamer) Steam had well and truly taken hold and with their near constant sales I was able to pick up games a few years old I'd originally missed for a pittance.

    Xbox Live's marketplace isn't as good, yet. I have bought a few digital titles when they've been on sale but as my wife and I still mostly share games but across two separate consoles, we still find it easier to buy discs where applicable. If we were sharing one console instead, it would be a different story.

    Still, I'd say I have bought nearly the same number of digital titles as I have disc based games on my Xbox One, and with the free Games With Gold I've tried out over the last year, the number of digital titles I "own" blows disc based titles out of the water (even if the free GWG titles are about 60% rubbish I never would have bought to begin with).

      My son and I each have a P4 and Xbox One and I have only bought digital titles this generation. It's possible to share all my games digitally between both of us as I made his systems the primary console for my account. It does mean I have to be online on my consoles to play but that's not an issue.
      FWIW we have unlimited broadband so download caps aren't an issue.
      I hope this helps.

        Yeah, we could switch ownership of each other's consoles so the titles are shared but we haven't really worried about it yet because we've bought so few games this gen anyway. The only time it's been an issue was when Far Cry 4 went on sale but I think it was like $20 with all the DLC so I just bought it twice.

    Retail. Once I've finished with a game, I sell them to fund more games

    Really depends on the deal going. On PS4 if its a few dollars more for digital / on sale on the PSN I'll pick it up. Most of the time though you can't go past the Big W and Target deals on release day.

    Need a few more options on the poll.

    For me, digital PC, retail for the big console releases (especially as price matching Target/Big W can save $30-$40 on digital). Digital for smaller console releases.

    Why is there no both option? On PC, Vita and Wii U I always buy digital. On PS3, PS4 and 3DS though it's a mixture, mainly due to limited disk space and no external storage options. Small games I buy digitally but which medium I go with for bigger games is always influenced by space and cost.

    Last edited 11/05/16 11:31 am

      Us Vita gamers have had to embrace digital - you'd never be able to even find most Vita games in-store!

    I do both.

    Buying in-store ie a gift for a friend or relative goes a long way, because of the price factor. This person can then do WHAT THEY WANT with the gift they now own. What a novel idea.

    Accounts and such make things more and more difficult, it's almost like they want to direct you to more and more digital options.

    For instance I bought an American copy of Journey for my PS3, but it ended up being a game tied to my Aussie PSN account. The PS4 version of Journey let one region 'redeem' your PS3 copy to get it for free. I couldn't do this, even though everything was above board and I only did what Sony was allowing me to do.

    I actually prefer the way Japan does it with vouchers for specific games - that's happened here for only a few console games (console Minecraft being the exception).

    Due to Australia's geography, it's near on impossible to get the games I want to play at retail. Nintendo Australia - or its distributors - seem to have an un-ending grudge with the EBs/etc because you can only seem to get some 3DS or Wii U games in-store if you pre-ordered at release.

    I have taken to buying Nintendo eshop cards in bulk when they go on special. Which means I have to contend with Nintendo's odious local pricing. It's a stop-gap measure.

    Digital only on PC.

    Consoles... Hmmm... I really, REALLY want to go digital only, but it comes down to price, and most of the time retail is cheaper, so I end up going with that. If the various console shops had Steam like pricing structure, I'd be digital all the way.

      Me too.

      I don't need the disc, and I'd prefer to buy digital. But I'm not paying *more* for a digital copy. So I end up buying physical copies almost solely because they are cheaper.

      It should be the other way around. I guess the industry is just too scared to piss off the retailers.

    PC? Digital all day.

    Xbox or Nintendo?? Mix of the two, although skewing towards digital (unless something I want the collectors edition for comes out)

    You forgot the third option - Both. Depends on the game but most collector editions I will pre-order online for instore pickup. Will only really buy new games online if I can get a better price.

      Gasp! Pre-order. Besides, whatever crap you get in the collectors edition usually isn't worth the extra cost.

    PC - All digital.

    Consoles - Mixed but 80% of the time its physical.

    Digital for everything except my 3DS and Wii U, which don't have the space for digital titles. I hate the idea of players being forced onto digital but it's the solution that works for me.

      Keeping track of my physical media for the consoles has started to turn into something of a pain in the ass that I actually need to devote attention and energy to. And if there's one thing I hate, it's devoting attention and energy to things which aren't fun.

      Digital has some drawbacks in that it's not ALWAYS the cheapest option, and you may have to wait to download (much less of an issue now than it used to be, given that even games on disc need to install AND patch now, so if you have fast internet it's all done in around about the same amount of time), but it's definitely edging out in front of breakable/scratchable/losable/physical-space-consuming physical media.

      They're really moving towards turning discs into basically DRM tokens that you have to get off the couch to install as the only meaningful point of difference.

        Same here. My already full warehouse has a giant stack of boxes filled with DVDs and video games in the corner because when I moved into my new apartment I realised even if I have the space I don't want the clutter of a bunch of DVD racks.
        People worry they won't be able to play their games in the future and that's understandable, but personally I think download sizes and emulation will catch up before these services vanish forever. In the mean time the games and movies I own on physical media are way less accessible. I wanted to watch my copy of Iron Man last night and I couldn't because the disc is in a box here at work.
        Unless someone invents a No CD crack for consoles it looks like digital is the only way to manage my library in a way that's still accessible.

    digital pc, retail console. i like owning the discs and if the distribution goes away i still have the discs (although minus the day one dlc these days.....)

      Day one patches are the biggest problem.
      Out kids will not be able to play the games we did.

      If distribution channels for digital software I've 'bought' ever go away, I'll probably pirate the copies guilt-free. What? I paid!

    As someone who still has an internet plan with a data cap - retail all the way.

      I have to do digital because there's no game sellers where I live, (closest is 4 hours drive), but I also have a data cap. So what I do, is see which of my friends owns and has the game downloaded I need (usually on Steam) and get them to do a back up onto a USB and "restore game" to install it. Best way to install those large mega-titles, and you can share the data load.

    Depends on the Australian Tax.

    Big fan of Steam, but in tecent years with the AU pricing option given to publishers, Steam games went from being cheaper to buy in USD to more expensive to buy with region coding.

    Fallout 4 was cheaper for me to buy in store at JB HiFi.

    Blizzard has added Australian tax to Overwatch that it turned me off buying it straight away... will wait for it to be cheaper in store or for news on dedicated oceanic servers cause even with favor the shooter net code I fiund reacting to snipers was slow.

    For PS4 - Digital when sales are on, which are frequently pretty damn good. Retail for new releases because $69 at Target can't be beaten.

    Always retail. If something is digital-only then I'll most likely not bother with it, save for the mainline Humble Bundles which I always pick up.

    Edit: Just remembered I finally have to make a huge exception for this for VR. It's the first time my want for the end product has outweighed my distaste for the cost of getting it :P

    Last edited 11/05/16 11:51 am

      One of us. One of us. One of us...

        I justify it to myself by reminding myself that store purchases are the only way to support Oculus, since they're not making money via the hardware. So it's just like how I choose to buy Humble because I support what they do.

        So Steam can still go expletive themselves :P

          Y U h8 lord and saviour Gaben?
          (Don't answer. Is rhetorical. Steam has no flaws. Join us. It's bliiiiissssss.)

          Last edited 11/05/16 12:46 pm

            These days it's mostly the fanclub that's the biggest repellent.

              *looks hurt*


                Haha, poor phrasing. It's the real crazies out there that make your playing it up look tame in comparison.

                  Awh, shucks. Calling me a moderate... You da best frenemy/nemesis/rival. ^.^

    Pc- Digital almost exclusively (dem humble bundle sales)

    Digital, because the closest EB or JB or any game seller is like 4 hours drive away. #bushgamer #wehaveamaccasthough

    New releases (like Dark Souls III) retail
    Older games and smaller games digital

    Basically wherever I get the best price

    I haven't bought retail for years. I find it pointless for PCs these days. Even with a physical disc, there are many gigabytes of data to download upon installation.. some being nothing more than a file that begins the download process. There are so many online retailers that are able to secure pre-order bonuses and other bundle deals, which net the same results of buying at retail.

    If I was buying for console, I'd be buying retail though..

    Last edited 11/05/16 11:57 am

    Another digital PC, i do sometimes go for collectors editions if they tweak my interest.

    There needs to be a poll item for "both". I buy digital where possible, but when the Xbox store pulls $100 crap when Target or BigW sell for $65-69, thats basically a free Season Pass.

    I would PREFER to buy digital, but the Xbox marketplace forces my hand to buy elsewhere.

      +1 I'm exactly the same. I would rather get digital, but much cheaper games means that I generally buy retail. Unless there's a special on (almost always old) games on xbl

    I like having a physical collection for my console games. but for PC is steam.
    Ps4 games on the PSN are more expensive then retail and no return policy, to retail all the way

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