Why Consoles Are Stuck In The Era of The Dinosaurs?

PC and consoles have one major difference: proper digital delivery.

For PC you have these fine options:

  • GOG – good old games to download in digital format for small price. PC rocks.
  • Tons of more places to get indie and AAA games: Direct2Drive, Steam, Gamersgate… and more. I don’t need physical copies for PC, I can buy them in digital format.

The point is… if for example I want pretty much any game (that was published to) PC, I can get it. Consoles don’t have proper digital delivery. Yes, PS3 offers some demos via playstation network and sells some minis and classics and whatnot, but their catalogue is lacking badly. Xbox live is doing a better job in live area but if I understood correctly, you cannot get for example Alan Wake as a digital download. You (most likely) need to get a physical copy. Same with Wii and others. (I didn’t bother to check but I’m sure somebody will correct me, that’s the beauty of the Internet: there’s people who are always ready to prove you wrong.)


Let’s take an example. If I’d want to hunt down old game called The Incredible Hulk for PS3, I can go through their network and different online shops to see that “it’s not manufactured anymore”. Then I can try ebay (or huuto.net, the Finnish alternative) and with some luck might find some seller. Maybe after some painful research and work, at some point I might eventually get the game delivered to my house. But since I don’t live in the US (where ebay is used much more than here), the odds are against me. In short: it will be tough to find that game to my PS3.

Now… I could switch to PC and check for example D2D and after 17 seconds of time, I’d find this. Downloadable version for about ten bucks. I’d be playing in minutes.

That’s the beauty of the beast. The PC beast. And that’s where PC rocks and consoles suck.

I hate playing disc version of games. They make loud noise, I need to switch discs (since I can have only one inside the machine, not two you know), they might not be available for purchase, package delivery takes time. I nowadays buy mainly digital downloads for my PC, and it feels like I’m forced to go to the stone age with consoles.

I do like playing NHL on my fancy PS3, but seriously… it’s 2010 for heavens sake. We might not have teleportation invented just yet, but could I at least get my console games in a digital format.


Juuso Hietalahti


  1. tech/graphicswise they do absolutely fine. it’s great that I can buy one piece of machine and use it to get cool looking graphs for 6+ years. Ease of use and connectivity make ’em superior gaming machines.

    …only the (some) lack of digital delivery is what I’d need.

    I don’t need new geforce every 6 months ;)

  2. The consoles were outdated a few days before they came on the market. The PS3 came on the market on Nov 11, 2006, but my nVidia GeForce 8800 GTS came on the market Nov 6, 2006.

    This card is about 10 times more powerful than the PS3 or XBOX360, and still it’s already 6 years old, and costs about $30 if you can still get it somewhere. So PC gaming has been always cheaper over time. You can’t buy a PS3 for $30 today, and when both came out, the PS3 wasn’t even much cheaper then, just about the same price.

    The only thing which consoles keep over time, is their price. Their technology has been obsolete for over 6 years now.

  3. Well, I’m using a much simpler method: I buy the game and then crack it. This way I don’t need the disk to play (and scratch), but I’m not stealing the game either :) Best of the two worlds!

  4. Axe99: I want to add one crucial point: nowadays I really enjoy playing on console. My PS3. Now it’s like 9+ experience to me. To get to the 10, it would need digital downloads.

    I’m so certain that bandwidth is much less expensive than shipping the things across the planet. I think it would make more money to publishers, but since I’m not that familiar with the console world of publishing of games I cannot tell… who knows what kind of deals they do with shoppes and distributors.

    Also, if they can do it for couple of big AAA games, how come they cannot do it for all big AAA games?

    Also, I’m not saying that digital download should replace completely physical media. I also like to collect for example movies. I just think that all games should be at least provided in digital format.

    Digital delivery has couple of issues:
    – one is sharing the discs that you mentioned, that indeed is an issue
    – being afraid that “I cannot get my game if something bad happens”

    The first one won’t be solved (and it’s bad, but I think the benefits are greater).

    What comes to the second point: I’m much more afraid that I scratch my discs.

    In almost everything else, digital format beats physical media.

  5. Makes you wish they actually were. Console these days have the charm of low end pc’s. Even the brilliant plug and play
    charater is gone. It not even original hardware anymore.
    Back then; consoles >pc. Now; Pc > consoles.

  6. Not surprisingly, given your PC focus, your title for this article is misleading….

    The PS3 (I can only speak for PS3 and PC) has some games available for full download (inFamous, LBP, SOCOM, Warhawk, Burnout Paradise), and a large range of other games available as well. Given that full games are available for download, I suspect DRM isn’t the main issue, and I wouldn’t be surprised if cost came into it somewhere – while it’s tempting to think otherwise, both upload and download bandwidth isn’t free. For larger games (God of War III is upward of 30 gigs, for instance), I wouldn’t be surprised if the upload and server maintenance costs weren’t comparable, if not more, than for purchasing at a bricks-and-mortar store.

    I also suspect that, outside of a few niche consumers, there isn’t a huge demand there. There are no file size limitations on the PSN – if EA want to make NHL 2010 available over the PSN, they can (like they did with Burnout Paradise). There are some games on the PSN that were originally planned as retail releases and then became download only. But its not the console holding back what’s available, its the publishers. Given that publishers want to make money, it’s likely that they consider the costs to outweigh the benefits at this stage.

  7. alot of console players arent even connected to the internet, have slow internet, or have too small a harddrive for this.

    hopefully sony will get smart next gen, why waste money on paying the discmakers and shitholes like gamestop?

    note how i fail to mention ms or nintendo? theyre both screwed, ms has no 1st party studios left and nintendo devs are only familiar with making cartoon games on decade old hardware

  8. Yes, all games should have a digital download option. Even on consoles.

    But, I still prefer having the disc for console games. Heck, even for most PC games. Why? Because then I can share it. I’m not tied down to only the console (or account) I bought the game on, I can let my friend borrow it, it won’t suddenly stop working because they no longer run the DRM authentication servers, etc.

    Buying digitally, I’d have to go pirate the game in order to be assured of my ability to play it years from now.

    Sure, Steam and others promise to release patches if they ever shut down, but that’s a promise easily broken. Reflexive Arcade made the same promise, and a while after Amazon bought them, they were shut down. Guess what? No patches. There were people who had spent hundreds of dollars on those games, who will no longer have what they paid for when they have to get a new computer.

    So, yeah, digital downloads are great. But I dread the day when that’s all we have.

  9. IMHO: It’s all DRM. The console people feel like they still have control if everything is a physical disk. (Of course, the many mod chips and hacks say otherwise.)

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