Long Live Physical Games

They're trying to take our cartridges...

Over the weekend we recorded our second live taping of the Adventure Mode Podcast here at Handsome Phantom. While talking about some of our favorite video game memories, the topic of physical versus digital games came up. As we head to a more digital future, there will always be a place for physical copies of games for hardcore collectors, and it would be terrible for the industry to completely abandon the release of physical copies of the games we love.

I’ve always been a huge fan of physical media and my game room proves it. It has over 1,000 movies in it as well as physical copies of games dating back to the NES. To someone like myself and Handsome Phantom’s own co-founder, Brandon Duncan, the idea of owning all of your games in digital form is simply a nightmare.

When you think back to gaming over the past couple of decades, some of the first things that come to mind are those special cartridges that stood out when placed against the endless sea of gray. Those beautiful red Maximum Carnage and Doom  SNES cartridges, the black Killer Instinct cartridge and the blue Tony Hawk Pro Skater cartridge for the Nintendo 64 are just a few.


Physical releases often come with some really great pre-order bonuses as well.

  • Statues
  • Posters
  • Trading Cards
  • Action Figures

These are always a nice perk for game collectors. The upcoming release of Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus comes with a particularly awesome bonus for those who purchase the Special Edition – an action figure of BJ Blazkowicz complete with interchangeable outfits and weapons. If we were living in a dystopian digital future, items like this just wouldn’t exist. Some games have tried to add collectors edition bonuses to their digital games, but without the physical copy of the game included, the bonuses seem moot. The “physical” release of Sonic Mania included a beautiful statue of the game’s namesake as well as some other nice collectors items. The only thing it lacked was the game itself. You received a digital code to download the game instead. You could have just done from your couch and saved yourself the hassle!Physical games are also a way that parents can show their children the games that they played when they were young. In a digital only form, the games die with your old system. There is no way to play those games on any system other than the one they are downloaded on. There are exceptions of course, but they aren’t the rule. Companies like Hyperkin are still making consoles like Retron 5 and the Supaboy, which enable you to play most of your older game cartridges all on the same system. The Supaboy makes your SNES games not only playable on your TV, but also makes them portable as well.

We live in a day and age of instant gratification. The idea that you can just sit on your couch at midnight and download a new release immediately can seem tempting, but you lose out on so many experiences like midnight releases. One of my fondest memories are going to EB Games at 8 pm and waiting four hours to finally get my hands on Halo 2. My friends and I hung out in line and met some new people while we waited for the clock to strike midnight. School wasn’t even an option for us the next day. We had a date with destiny and at the time his name was Master Chief. Years of memories all began with a four hour wait in line that many today will never know due to the nature of digital games. Countless Bioshock, Call of Duty and Madden memories have the same inception.

That’s not to say that there is not a place for digital games. Digital games do offer a more convenient way to store your game without taking up so much space. If this is your priority when it comes to buying video games, by all means that is your prerogative – you’re not wrong. I’m not trying to say that publishers take away your digital releases, I’m just asking that you don’t take away my physical releases at the same time. Both physical and digital releases can coincide in the same universe. As long as video games exist there will be collectors that prefer to show off their physical game collection. Their collections are a part of who they are and were as a gamer and they should be able to show that off proudly.

Do you prefer physical or digital games? Let us know and check out more of our articles and reviews while your at it.


Author: Phil Neyman

Philip is better at buying video games than he is at playing them. He was once told “it must suck to love something so much and be so terrible at it.” As a boy he would write terrible poems about himself and Ross Perot. He enjoys the best and worst of all forms of media, but nothing in the middle. Puyo Puyo Tetris has almost caused unreconcilable differences between him and his wife. He’s never had a hangover, but not from lack of trying.

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