As the home quarantine is slowly becoming the new normal, several people are turning to video games to spend the many days of downtime they have on their hands.

There’s nothing quite like lounging on your game chair and escaping into a new and fantastic world — even if just for a few hours. As you ask yourself which game you should buy and play next, have you also stopped and wondered which one’s better to invest in: physical or digital video games?

The gaming community has consistently been 50/50 about this. Several gamers prefer their video games to be tangible, something that they can hold, keep, and collect. On the other hand, many gamers go with the digital age and they like to store their games in a drive or online for easy downloads and management. 

Both physical and digital video games have their own advantages over the other, and what you’ll prefer will depend on what type of video game owner you are. We’ve listed down some of the pros and cons of both game types to help you decide for your next purchase.

Read on if you’ve been contemplating whether to buy the next video game on Steam, PlayStation and Xbox store (or whichever gaming console you have), or to head to the nearest video game store (after the quarantine, of course). 

Physical video games


PRO: You can sport a collection of all your favorite video games. 

For video game collectors, one of the best feelings in the world is when you add a new shiny case to your ever-growing collection. You can proudly exhibit your collection for you and all of your house guests, it can be a great conversation starter. A Steam account with hundreds of games just doesn’t have the same weight as a jam-packed video game shelf. 

PRO: You don’t have to worry about Internet speeds when downloading. 

The graphics and screen power of the newest video games are tremendous, but that also means that their file sizes are now tremendously large. If you have a slow internet connection at home, downloading a video game and waiting for it to finish can be unbearable.

Additionally, if you have a data cap on your internet connection, downloading 60GB video games uses up a huge chunk of your monthly data. Going to a store for a physical copy may sometimes be the quicker (and more economical) option.  

PRO: You can lend or gift them to your friends and family. 

Physical games are perfect if you want to share the game experience with your family and friends by lending, gifting, or even trading your copy for a different game. Selling your physical copy is also a great idea if you want to get cash to buy new video games. 

PRO: You can buy special and collector’s editions of your games. 

To reward their fans that continue to purchase physical copies, several video games include special deals from these copies like memorabilia, premium casing, and collectors-only gameplay. If you’re a superfan of a particular video game, buying a physical copy is sometimes the way to go to get much more content than from a digital game. 

CON: Physical copies are more prone to irreversible damage. 

While having a physical game to hold is a great feeling, it also comes with the risk of losing or destroying the game forever. A physical copy can get misplaced, stolen, scratched, or corrupted if you’re not careful enough. Digital copies, on the other hand, are stored in the cloud free from any physical and irreversible harm. 

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Digital video games


PRO: You can purchase a game without leaving the house. 

When talking about convenience, digital video games take the cake. If you have a reliable internet connection, you can buy video games and play them immediately, without having to even move from the couch. This point is especially important if you live in an area with no nearby video game stores. 

PRO: You can play your video games wherever you go.

Physical games take up a lot of shelf space, so if you’re not an avid collector, this can get very frustrating. Additionally, if you travel and move around a lot but still want access to your video game library, physical copies are not ideal. Digital video games don’t take up any space at all (except maybe in your hard drive), and they are easy to access to any device your account is connected to. 

PRO: You can pre-order and play the game right after its release. 

No matter how popular the new video game release is, your nearby game store won’t always have it stocked right away. If you want something that is ready to play as soon as you get home, preordering a digital copy is the way to go. 

CON: Digital copies cannot be sold or given to somebody else. 

Although some digital stores do have a comprehensive return policy, some digital copies cannot be refunded if you end up not liking the game. With a physical copy, you can easily give or sell your game to somebody else. This is much harder to do for digital copies because they might need access to your account before they can play the game. 

Other factors to consider when buying games

You can avail of discounts both online and in-store.

Price-wise, you can great deals for both physical and digital video games depending on where and how you buy them. Video game stores, either online or brick-and-mortar, hold several sales for their games, so it’s just a matter of smart buying to score great finds for the lowest prices. 

Some video games are only available in a physical or digital form. 

You also need to consider whether your video game is even available in your preferred format in the first place. Many vintage games remain in packaged format only and have not been digitized, while some newer video games (mostly from indie developers) are available digital-only. 

In conclusion

At the end of the day, there is no right or wrong way to buy and play a video game. In truth, most gamers do a little mix of both — stocking up on titles for both their shelves and their hard drives. Whether you go for a physical or a digital copy of your favorite game, you’re always bound to have an amazing time. 

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