While I don't have glass cases full of rare items, I do consider myself a bit of a video game collector. I have thousands of games from across the decades, ranging from the Atari 2600 and Intellivision all the way up to the Nintendo Switch.
And yet, with the release of the PlayStation 5 and the new Xbox, I can't tell you with any certainty that I will ever buy a physical game disc for these new systems.
This will not be a surprise to Sony or Microsoft. In fact, it's likely exactly what they want to hear. Both hardware makers have come out of the gate with digital-only consoles that do not support physical media at all. Microsoft has even boasted that its new digital system, the Xbox Series S, resulted in "the highest percentage of new players for any Xbox console at launch." At $300, it is by far the cheapest way to get a cutting-edge game console right now. That alone may be worth the lack of a disc drive.
There are a lot of benefits for Sony and Microsoft in this deal, not the least of which being that they won't have to share profits with a brick-and-mortar retailer, since most games will be purchased directly via the console storefronts.
But there are major benefits for me as a consumer, too. For starters, going all digital means I will never again have to get up to swap discs if I decide I want to play another game. This will be especially noticeable on the Xbox thanks to the system's Quick Resume feature, which allows players to switch between multiple games in a manner of seconds.
Microsoft pushes even harder toward a digital-only utopia with Game Pass, its Netflix-like subscription service that provides all-you-can-play digital access to more than 100 games at a time. Why spend $60 on a disc of the new Halo when you could just play it alongside a ton of other great games for $10 a month?
There are downsides, too, of course. If you want to play "The Division" in 10 years, will you even be able to find it?
So I'm not exactly singing from the rooftops about the fact that physical video game media might be dying, but I grow increasingly accepting of the idea every day. Besides, that just means I have more room in my house to collect old Game Boy cartridges.
Britton Peele, Tribune News Service