Evolution is a key part of technology, that's just the way it is. Every year brings new advancements, new ways to process things, build things, make things more efficient, or highlight something that could only be shown in part before. For video games and their consoles, the advancement of technology has lead to many wondrous things. From better graphics to motion controls, streaming, and more. But a key debate that keeps coming up is whether video games as a product will soon go full digital, meaning that physical copies won't be sold anymore. Some analysts are predicting that'll happen sooner rather than later.
According to two analysts, the game industry could take a full turn for the digital 2022. Which, when you think about it, isn't that far away, and could be the beginning of the next console generation for Sony and Microsoft (the Nintendo Switch will likely still be kicking around them). Or at the very least, be in the first year or two of those new systems.
“We believe it is a certainty that video games will be 100 percent digital in the coming years, and while exact timing is hard to pinpoint, we think 2022 is a realistic expectation,” the analysts state.
The question now becomes, "What is the reason for this potential shift?" Well, it's honestly because of how the nature of things is changing in the gaming world. For one, more and more developers and publishers are pushing microtransactions, special services, or gaming promotions via digital constructs. For example, the Xbox Game Pass, which has been seeing quite a bit of success since its launch. This service allows players to play a library of titles for a low monthly fee, and now, Xbox One will be bringing same-day launches to that service. So, gamers will be saving money from buying full price titles, and publishers will be getting more long-term cash flow via the service.
Profits are a big reason for this belief. After all, with physical copies, a publisher must print cover art, the disc themselves, ship them to stores all over the world, and then only get a cut of the profits. But, with digital sales, their cuts are much larger due to them posting it on their own services (like Xbox Live Marketplace, the PlayStation Store, and the Nintendo eShop), as well as other services like Steam.
The only real catch here are the gamers themselves. For while the digital games market has been growing over the last few years, that doesn't mean that people don't want to lose getting physical titles. If polled, you might be surprised by how many would rather have a physical copy over a digital copy. And gamers sometimes only get digital content because they have to, like with Season Passes, DLC, expansions, etc. So the divide is a clear problem. Then again, with the potential date of a full digital conversion being 2022, all the publishers would have a little less than 5 years to figure out how to ensure that their own sales don't drop by the loss of physical sales.