We are inevitably, inexorably moving toward a bright digital future, in the next generation of games consoles, a bit, sort of.
PC gamers have been wrangling with Steam and other such download clients for many years but this big change to the console market is undeniable huge. Are they ready for it?
The obvious advantage to games having a digital download option is the ability to be able to switch games on the fly without having to move away from your mountain dew and chips – delicious stereotypes. Apart from a personal preference for discs and physical media, there are several disadvantages that haven’t had much of a voice.
The main one being the hardware. On my PC if I’m running out of disc space then I can just buy another multi terabyte hard-drive and install it. Both of the new consoles will feature a 500gb HDD. Some of that will be taken up by the OS and details about external storage are sketchy at best. You’re not looking at much space to play with. Particularly when graphical fidelity is reaching a point whereby we are seeing 40gb+ game installs from the likes of Ryse. 40gb out of a 2tb HDD is not that much, but it’s around a 10th of the new default available storage. Not to mention the time it will take to download these monolithic titles, along with the risk of hitting your download cap for the month over a couple of games.
Some of the advantages are not to be sniffed at. Being able to play a game while you download it is pretty great – although I’m a little sceptical – and the possibility of playing your games on a friends console once they are downloaded and installed via the cloud.
Cloud technology is another obvious boon and could pose the solution to the storage problem. I don’t think that it’s ridiculous to imagine a purely cloud based storage system at some point. For example you pay x amount per month for x amount of storage, that can be accessed on your games device at any time and played. The limiting factor at this time is internet speeds, but it’s hardly beyond the realm of possibility.
Right now though, I can’t see this big digital push – beyond a few early adopters – going that far. At least not until Sony and Microsoft have the hardware to see it through.
Do you think we are ready for the next generation? Give your answers in the comments below!
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In my next instalment I will discuss what we are losing in the big push to digital.