How Many Games Do You Still Buy At Retail?

How Many Games Do You Still Buy At Retail?
Image: Kotaku

While there’s plenty of options for buying digitally these days, the act of physically buying games from a store hasn’t gone away. So for this week’s Tell Us Dammit, I’d like to know: how many games have you still bought at retail?

After the first few weeks, however, buying digitally tends to make a lot more sense. Retailers don’t cut prices to the same extent as Steam, Good Old Games, Green Man Gaming and so on.

Another element that’s been surprising is the Switch’s eShop pricing. While games like Breath of the Wild and Mario Kart 8 were full price digitally, smaller indies were super reasonable.

So how many games have you still bought at retail? If you want to narrow it down to a year or per console, go for it. But are you more of a digital or retail buyer, or do you just go wherever the sales are?


  • PC games? None. I rarely even buy direct from Steam anymore, unless it’s heavily on sale. Steam is too expensive with its USD pricing.

    Consoles? Retailers tend to be a bit more competitive, unless the digital stores are having a sale.

    • Steam is ridiculous for a lot of games. Steam, the reason you stopped going to EB Games and the reason you now sometimes go back.

      • Never, under any circumstances, go back to EB Games. Even if the price is cheaper, the staff exploitation is drastically worse.

  • I buy mostly digital these days. Partly because a lot of them don’t get physical releases and partly because so many AAA games want to be 40, 60, 80 hours long and I just cbf continually putting the disc in and out. I also rarely buy anything on day 1, and digital sales on PSN tend to be cheaper than physical, although the reverse is true if you’re buying on day 1.

    For shorter stuff, I tend to buy physical because (a) they’re over much faster so the disc is less of a hassle, and (b) I’m more likely to replay them, so I can delete then reinstall later without having to download them again. I’m unlikely to replay something that takes 40+ hours, so I don’t mind downloading it once, playing it then deleting it.

    Only retail game I’ve bought all year is Uncharted The Lost Legacy (which I did buy day 1 because Naughty Dog). The others (eg Yakuza 0,Horizon Zero Dawn, XCOM 2,etc) were all digital.

  • When PC was my only “console”, I never bought anything through retail as Steam/Origin had everything I needed.

    Now that I have a switch, most of my games have come from JB:HIFI.

  • PC: Digital.
    Console: Retail.

    Mostly because downloading digital games on console takes forever. Steam is much quicker.
    Same reason I don’t buy games off the Windows Store… download speeds are atrocious.

  • Only buy digital for sale items or decently priced indies/eShop games. Given console digital stores usually keep prices at full RRP, they’re only good with massive sales.

    May also buy some “long term” games (i.e. keepers, like Zelda BotW etc.) digitally, but depends on the price. At launch, retail is usually 20%+ cheaper than digital so for that sort of savings, retail is better.

    For ones I’m happy to finish & then trade in/sell, retail is (obviously) best to get some financial return on re-sale.

  • Most big name games I buy retail still, particularly for new releases. I just like having the box, particularly for console gaming.

    Not all games, I do get one of those 10 keys a month deal every month, and the occasional game I’ll get digital (notably when it doesn’t hit the shelves like NMS on PC), but in general I’m old school enough to lean towards the physical product.

  • PC and console, all digital.
    Console because of game sharing with the missus on her console (1 license both can play at same time) and PC because why would I choose to go to a store when I have all the options for purchasing online.

  • Everything digital for me, no matter what platform – just can’t be bothered changing the discs or having the boxes lying around anymore, weird since I used to have loads and kinda enjoyed looking through them all?

    Only two issues with this are:

    1.) Nintendo Switch – bought a big ass memory card, but 256gb is still not that big so it won’t last forever, even taking into account the smaller game downloads/less frequent purchases i make on the switch. Re-downloading at aussie speeds/with limits is just annoying & changing memory cards is even worse than discs – luckily it’s not an issue yet.

    2.) The amount of games owned seems to slow down my (already slow) Xbox UI terribly when navigating through them all. Not sure if it’s the same on the PS4 as I don’t have anywhere near the same number but looking through my game library is a chuggy, unresponsive chore compared to something like Steam where I can scroll through easily.

    Also find as I’ve gotten older that I very rarely pre-order or buy at launch anymore. Sales are just amazing and the whole “must play it” feeling has long since gone. The ones I tend to buy now are the ones from smaller devs or niche titles I like to think i’m showing my support of. Titles with microtransactions etc (casting a grumpy glance at shadow of war) and dodgy marketing I can now quite easily ‘leave on the digital shelf’ and take great pleasure in paying hardly anything for it down the line. Sad that it’s got to those levels of petty but I’m also sick of spending 40-60 hours on a 20 hour game just to level up/grind enough virtual currency to buy weapons etc that would previously have been quest rewards etc – so many great games out there i’d rather spend that wasted time on.

    • Anyone know how long this stoopid “all of yours posts are being moderated” stuff lasts?

      I offered two hints for people thinking of buying PES 2018 in a thread about PES 2018 and got downvoted to hell presumably because of Mr Sterlings anti Konami stance, everything gets moderated since then. I love the internet >sigh

  • Depends on prices for me for both Pc and console. If a game I want is cheaper in store even by a cent I go to retail but if it’s cheaper online than retail then online.

  • I mostly buy retail if its a game I want and they have a good launch sale. There’s often been games $30-40 of RRP at launch these days. I get it price matched at EB, then if I don’t like it I can return it

  • Given the 10-day return period I have at EB Games, I ONLY buy games for consoles (which is rare nowadays) at retail. The flexibility of being able to refund something I don’t like is all too valuable.

    Wouldn’t even consider purchasing a PC game at EB however. Given you cannot return PC games you don’t like at EB, it makes no sense for me to get in my car to buy a download code I can simply get from Steam.

  • Given the 10-day return period I have at EB Games, I ONLY buy games for consoles (which is rare nowadays) at retail. The flexibility of being able to refund something I don’t like is all too valuable.

    Wouldn’t even consider purchasing a PC game at EB however. Given you cannot return PC games you don’t like at EB, it makes no sense for me to get in my car to buy a download code I can simply get from Steam.

  • All my games are digital. I only buy games when they are on sale via the Xbox marketplace. Most I buy when 50-75 percent off, which is usually cheaper than eb games, jbhifi, bigw, etc

  • Always digital on PC. On consoles the preference is always digital except for:
    – Collectors editions (I’m a sucker for art books)
    – Games I know will end up being trade-ins after playing
    – Physical only games (Yes, they still exist strangely enough)

    • That last one sounds weird – I thought EVERYTHING was available digitally these days. Out of curiosity, can you give any examples of a recent physical-only game?

  • PC Gamer have been buying all my games through Steam (or Steam Keys from humble or green man) for 11 years…

    … except Bethesda games. I buy them all retail cause those morons put the Australian retail number into the USD field. Thats an extra $15 to $25 on conversion they add cause they dont care they ripping us off… and as you said preorders from JB Hifi have been pretty good with pricing.

  • Console – mostly physical except for digital-only games and games that are super-cheap on sale.

    PC – on the rare occasion I buy a game for PC, it’s always digital and has been since about 2003.

  • I never go in-store to buy, but JB Hi-Fi online preorders are often quite a great deal.

    I used to get all my second hand discs from EB Games but now EBay and digital sales have taken its place.

  • Console games I still buy at retail most of the time because it’s usually cheaper and I then have the option of trading them in later. The only exception really is when there are sales on the e-store where I can get stuff cheaper than retail.

    PC games I usually just buy cheap Steam keys from other sites. I don’t even have an optical drive in my gaming PC so unless the game comes with a Steam key it’s a bit of a pain installing it from a disc.

  • Basically all of them. Except VR games, which are only available digitally. Also usually partake in the mainline Humble Bundles.

  • Everything retail, something reminds me of being a kid to have a physical copy to remind myself later on to boot it back up and play it. Doesn’t help that most games you chuck a brand new disk in and it requires a 6 gig update …zzzzzz

  • I almost always buy physically. I’ve always loved sharing games with my friends who wouldn’t fork out the money but I know will love a game. The positives are that I got 5 friends all talking about the ending of the last of us. The negatives are that I never got my copy of Arkham city back and have about 12 games scattered amongst different people including Until Dawn, FFXV, Last Guardian, Resident Evil VII and many more

  • If it’s a game I really want,I’ll get it digitally to play at midnight.If I think it’s too expensive or unsure whether it’ll be great,I’ll go to JB.

  • New releases – Physical
    Older Games – Digital sales

    I like the idea of going entirely digital but the prices just aren’t there for new releases and will probably stay that way until the console market is sure enough of the gamble on digital distribution to begin competing on game prices with the people selling their consoles.

  • The last game I purchased at a store this year was Destiny 2 and will probably be my last game I purchase this year. Oh wait, South Park the Fractured But Whole is out this October. I’ll probably buy that game as well. So, just two games in one year. The rest, I get for free.

  • Going at 90% digital and 10% physical. This past year the only physical “new release” game I purchased was Puyo Puyo Tetris on the Nintendo Switch. I have purchased other games during JB Hifi’s last game clearance earlier this year but they were bargain buys ($20-$30 each). I’ve only purchased one Steam game this year (AFL Evolution, a divisive title – but I loved the Xbox version enough to get it on pc… the frame rate is even sexier!).

    My Xbox and PS4 digital “new release” game purchases were done at a discount (able to buy Microsoft and Playstation credit at a cheaper rate). So my going digital either breaks even OR beats JB Hifi/Target/Big W/EB’s prices anyway.

  • Practically always a physical copy for console games from retail / ebay / gumtree (wherever its cheapest) so I can recoup the costs of the game tp buy another

  • I feel they’re available at retail, 100% basically. There’s a few things that get me to buy digital – not being available as physical, or ridiculously low prices. There’s only 1 game I’ve bought digitally over $20, and that’s The Witness. Wish that would come to physical though, could you imagine the cover! And an art book! Oh man…

  • PS4 owner here. Digital more and more. When the disc is just a key these days and still needs a 50GB install and 10GB day one patch it makes less and less sense. Plus I’m lazy, I’ve paid $10 over retail twice the last week to not have to put discs in (MvCi & Everybody’s Golf). Occasionally make an exception for single player re releases as these often don’t need patching.

  • PC – completely digital.

    Consoles – retail for most games, however for multiplayer games I tend to buy digital. When I do buy digital, I usually buy from the US since the Australian PS Store is pretty expensive.

  • I prefer to buy at retail when I can, especially for large console games. Small size indies, or humble bundles/ daily deals (at least on PC) are the few digital purchases I make for PC or PS4, Nintendo Switch I just kinda gave up and said screw it, buy it digital unless the game is confirmed to be over ten gigs (like Zelda). 3DS games are about the same as my Switch, however I almost always get physical copies of Pokemon games. No really specific reason than more game carts I guess.

  • Digital. Though I rarely buy games on release day or week unless it’s something I really am after and usually wait until it’s on sale somewhere.
    I’m not that desperate to play games day on and these days they are buggy as, usually wait until it’s had a few patches.

  • PC games I buy digital only.
    Console games I always buy physical copies. I love having a physical representation of a game I own on my shelf. Although the decreasing quality in cases, cover art and lack of manuals has become depressing

  • I pretty much by all of my games physically. I’m a collector so I like looking having something I can display.

  • All digital, except for physical collector’s editions and rare occasions where a digital version isn’t available at purchase time.

  • Consoles: more digital than retail unless the retail editions contain more dlc than the digital edition i.e. WWE2K18 JOHN CENA NUFF EDITION has more dlc than the digital deluxe edition on the PS STORE also cheaper than xbox live and the XBOX LIVE STORE and yes i’m aware the nuff edition is dearer to buy but it is worth it for the extra dlc if you are a wrestling fan.

    PC: nothing i don’t have one.

  • Mostly digital during sales (PS4) but the occasional retail if I want it on day of release and cant be bothered downloading.

    And FIFA I get on release digital so I dont have to get up and change the disc every time I want to get beaten 6-0.

  • I haven’t bought retail since I moved to a town with decent internet. Digital is more expensive. PlayStation exclusives are cheaper then Xbox exclusives on release ($79.90 vs $99.99). But I wait for sales usually unless I can’t wait.
    At retail you could Destiny 2 for as low as $64 where on the PlayStation and Xbox stores it’s $99.99.
    Work that one out?

  • retails still have the best deals by far for consoles. I use cd key shops for steam but the switch is the only thing i started to pay the extra for digital (even though it should be cheaper) for ease of use, no one wants to keep swapping cartridges, especially when you chew your nails, that shits hard af haha.

  • 9/10 going retail for all platform. I’m a collector so I mainly get collector’s edition of games and only go digital when a title is digital only.

  • It’s it’s console, almost exclusively physicals, very rarely do I get digital and that’s through PSN free monthly games or when a rare title doesn’t get a physical release. As for Steam, I try to go for GOG games more often than not, otherwise I wait for the sales or free Humble Bundles.

  • I picked up Dishonoured 2 really cheap at EB the other month.. otherwise that’s the first one for a couple of years

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