PC Game Install Sizes Are Ballooning And I’m Scared

PC Game Install Sizes Are Ballooning And I’m Scared

Earlier today, I was reading over the PC hardware specifications for the upcoming Call of Duty: Modern Warfare and, when I reached the hard drive space requirement, did a double-take. 175 GB. For one game. My hard drive currently has less than half that space free for all games. And Modern Warfare is far from alone in its Galactus-like hunger for hard drive space.

The PC version of Red Dead Redemption 2, for example, will not stop until it has callously conquered 150 GB of your PC’s storage.

This continues an upward trend seen in other recent heavyweight kingpins like the PC versions of Gears of War 4, Gears 5, Halo 5 and Final Fantasy XV, all of which clock in at over 100 GB when you add high-res texture packs (the latter even without improved textures). PC gaming has always been characterised by a little extra pain in the name of optimal pleasure, but this is reaching preposterously bonkers proportions.

Activision, at least, has an explanation for why its game plans on spreading out its legs and taking up three whole seats of hard drive space.

“175 GB is the storage space we recommend players keep available in order to download the post-launch content we’ll be bringing to Modern Warfare,” the publisher said in a blog post. “At launch, the initial download will be smaller.”

So far, however, Rockstar has not said anything along those lines, meaning that Red Dead Redemption 2 will likely cause hard drives the world over to squeal like hogtied pigs on which somebody tried to install a large video game.

That’s a pain! I don’t just use my hard drive for games, but also other things like videos and images I download and then forget to delete. I should have the freedom to be at least a little big negligent and irresponsible, darn it!

As is, however, I expect that it will not be long until I have to delete myself in order to make room for the PC version of the latest, greatest big-budget hit. I fear that day. I am not ready for the cold blackness of the recycle bin.

There’s a reason for this endless ballooning: As outlined by PC Gamer in a 2018 investigation, textures keep getting more complex and, therefore, bigger, and there’s not a practical way to compress them sans loss of fidelity in the same way there is for, say, audio.

Unlike on consoles, PC games aren’t as constrained by disc space, either, so developers can go a little wilder with how much space games take up.

So yeah, Modern Warfare and Red Dead Redemption 2 will probably look best on PC, but you might want to do some spring cleaning before you buy them. Or you can just be like me, continue treating your hard drive like your messy bedroom, and resign yourself to only installing one game at a time. Also, the embrace of the void.


  • I felt the same way when it went from games fitting into 5.25” floppies, to multiple ones. Then we moved to 3.5” and it settled, until we need multiple of that. Heck, some games needed 5 of those!

    Then when we started having hard drives, it went from a few mb, to double digital, which would fill the HDD in those days. Origin Systems games were usually to blame, with the Wing/Strike Commander games amongst the prime offenders.

    So when CD ROMs came out there was a sigh of relief… and then they wanted to install their contents and we needed bigger hard drives still.

    Just trying to say… Storage Wars
    Never Change.

  • We need some bigger SSD sizes thats for sure! (especially for those of us who have moved to m.2 completely).

    That being said, there is a benefit to this – most games have pretty good memory management, so can load in and out uncompressed textures (and audio), negating the need for various forms of AA, giving a performance increase (and better fidelity).

    Or you know, maybe don’t have such a large pile of shame installed :P.

  • I wonder how easy it would be for them to offer different install options based on resolution and textures you intend to play with?

    Like if you only have a basic 720p gaming pc then the file size could be 20gb and only people wanting 4k gaming have to use up 150gb?

      • Yeah you can choose if you want 4k packs or not but as an example Gears Of War 4 is still 96gb on the original Xbox One!

    • Not a bad idea. I could see some hiccups though. Like gamers switching resolution and getting hit with a 50GB texture upgrade patch then complaining on the games’ forum.

      I suppose this is one scenario where cloud gaming would actually be a winner. Doesn’t matter how big the game is, it’s all on the server and you’re just getting the actual image of what you’re doing streamed to you. That said, storage is probably easier to obtain and manage than bandwidth.

      • Yeah a mate was just talking to me about cloud gaming, sounds awesome, great performance even on lower power pcs and yeah no massive downloads anymore!

    • Because that would require 50x the current server infrastructure companies currently use. Think of all the games and all the resolution options that’s exist.

      While it might seem okay it’s not economically feasible

      • Yeah I don’t know much about how pc games are built, just imagined it could be something like a simple install vs advanced, where 4k is an extra pack that downloads, rather than having multiple versions of the game available.

        Saying that, it would make sense to offer two options if one is 150gb and the other is 30gb, if most people pick the small size then they’d need less server bandwidth etc.

        • Some games these days ship the game with standard 2k textures but offer an optional download of 4k textures.

          Bethesda does this with their games often.

    • This is honestly a pretty good idea, and one that already existed for pc games in the past. In the 90’s, I remember most games on CD’s would come with atleast 2 or even 3 different install sizes – minimal (run most off CD), moderate (a half half mix) or maximum, where basically everything was copied over to the HD.

      It makes a lot of sense to revisit this idea, especially since games nowdays still look amazing on low graphical settings, compared to the past where games were expected to be run on max for the proper experience – the difference between low res software rendering vs high res w/ graphics card in games like quake 2 or half-life was huge, almost like playing a different game.

  • this scares me a bit
    I was thinking about my sizes of my Skyrim & Fallout 4 games.

    I remember that its peak a few years ago when I was playing it heavily Skyrim reached around 100gig with all of the mods installed.

    my copy of Fallout 4 of today has a size of 171 gig with BA2 compressing most of the textures.
    (on another drive there is around 130 gig of uncompressed textures that I keep for backup )

  • What really sucks about this, for me at least, is that internet speeds haven’t kept up. Even though I’m on NBN, because I’m stuck on fixed wireless my speeds are consistently slower than my first adsl connection 15 years ago.

    When I see an install that size I don’t even bother any more.

  • TBH, I am wondering why your only getting scared now… Like, the biggest advantage PC gaming has is also its biggest weakness, and that’s an agility hardware configs. Most of the size for PC games is texters at different resolutions, or cinematics at 4K because its on PC.

      • Precisely. It wouldn’t be so bad if you could buy an off the shelf version of the game that required minimal downloads. But in a lot of cases you’re buying just a code so you might as well download off Steam. Or you get a version of the game that *still* needs a 40GB patch the moment you install it.

        • Man I still remember going to buy fallout 4 in-store only to find out it’s a single dvd with only 4gb of the 50gb download.

  • Once upon a time i had a 20 gig hard drive, and it was that i sought to install NWN or to those who know not the fabled tome, Never Winter Nights.

    And so i believe with long since diminished memories it was 12 gig… Such was much space at the time, and so the scraping of every byte was undertaken. AND SUDDENLY i had just enough room to install it….

    And so to those know who the sacred pc lore of old.. Swap files were not you trading nudie pics with your friends, but making sure your poor system had spare hard drive room because gods damn do bottlenecks please me.

    /stops ranting

      • but of course this is merely a cycle.
        outrage about a 1 gig game
        outrage about a 100 meg game
        outrage about a 10 meg game
        outrage about a 1 meg game
        outrage about a 100 Kbyte game

        • There is a point though where you have to question the sizes. Surely there are diminishing returns on quality? Can you detect the difference between a game that’s 50GB and 100GB? In terms of texture quality I mean.

  • when i saw the HDD size for RDR2 on PC i went and checked to see how space i had on each of Drives. my 1tb SSD that holds games that need an SSD had 170 left, my 2tb non SSD but fast HDD that compromises of most my steam games had 500gig left and my 4tb that is just for storage and Ubi/EA games had 2.6gig left.

  • Can’t wait for 8K to take off & then we get 8K HD Texture Packs at 80 gig or higher downloads alone… yay….

  • Heh I remember hearing Cymelion on here say to me around 5 years ago “Star Citizen will take 100gb!” and I gasped, saying “NO WAY! No game is going to take 100gb any time soon”.

    Now I wouldn’t be surprised if the decade it’s released we have games spanning 1tb…

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