PlayStation Vita: Digital or Physical?
With the release of the PlayStation Vita upon us, I’m left with one question that has left me with sleepless nights: Do I go fully digital, fully physical, or a mixture of both? For some people, this is an easy question not worth talking about, but I decided to break it down for my own benefit.
Now we all know that Sony has seemingly lost their collective minds with the pricing of their proprietary memory cards, ranging from $20 for the 4GB card all the way up to $100 for the 32GB card. I know I’m not in the minority when I say that these prices are a little outrageous to say the least. So there’s one strike against going fully digital: memory cards are expensive. I’m fully aware that I could buy a smaller card and play the delete/re-download game with the system, but I would rather not do that. The convenience of switching games on the fly without worrying about a wireless access point is very appealing. Also, because of AT&T’s horrible data restrictions, downloading games on a 3G connection is not going to happen if your game is larger than 20MBs.
Another reason why I’m hesitant to go fully digital are sales. Steam is the pinnacle of online retailers pricing their merchandise to move. If there’s a game that you want but for which you are willing to wait, chances are that game is going to be 75% off in the future. I can’t tell you how many games I’ve purchased through Steam on sale; the number would probably make me weep. Now do I believe that Sony is going to imitate this model with their online environment? The short answer is no. The long answer would require me to do some deep analysis for you, charting the decline in price for physical copies of games versus what you can buy on the PSN. I would rather not do that math but essentially, I can buy Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker on Amazon.com for $17.53, while currently, the game is priced at $29.99 on PSN. If this changes and Sony actually adopts the Steam method of selling digital content, this argument becomes invalid, but chances of this happening are slim. While 10% off day one for Vita titles is a great start, it’s too early to tell if there will be deeper price cuts a year from now.
I’ve decided that my approach to purchasing games for the PlayStation Vita will be a combination of both formats. For those games for which I can’t wait to drive to the store and will want on my device at all times, digital it is. However, with the number of sales most brick and mortar stores have to keep customers coming in, I’d be a fool to pass up these savings. I guess for me, at the end of the day, if I have an option to buy a physical copy of something, I’m going to do so. The problem with having a digital copy of a game or game content is that I forget that they exist. There are so many Steam and Xbox Live purchases that I’ve made over the years that have gone completely untouched. I don’t have the option to give these games away because they are forever tied to my accounts unlike a physical disc. Hell, I just remembered today that I have a piece of DLC for Bioshock 2 and Borderlands that I’ve been meaning to get to. I envision the same thing happening for me with the Vita if I went fully digital. So, I won’t be doing so until they create a system that will allow me to give away my digital copies or Sony adopts the way that Steam prices their games competitively. [insert cheesy closing sentence here.]