I purchased the special edition Legend of Zelda Wii U today (against the advice of my wallet) and I knew it came with a digital copy of Wind Waker HD. What I didn't know was that it doesn't actually come with the console, you just get a download coupon for the game. Why couldn't they pre-load the game onto the harddrive? (My guess is to force people to use the eShop, get familiar with it, and spend money). But this illustrates the most basic problem with digital-only releases: time and resources. I have the fastest internet connection available where I live, but it's still mind-numbingly slow compared to anything else. And there's nothing I can do about it, short of moving.
|It's beautiful, but for now it sits on my|
desk, taunting me.
An hour and 48 minutes may not seem all that long, but when I first loaded it up, it quoted me at a three hour download, and eventually bumped it down to like, 2 hours and 15 minutes. And that's only for just under 2 GB of data. Xbox 360 & PS3 games range between 4 and 25 gigabytes, and the next gen PS4 and X1 games are going to be at least that, if not double. Microsoft recently rolled out it's '2 free games a month to Gold subscribers' deal, and I've yet to partake in it. I tried to get Assassin's Creed II when that was one of the free games, but it's a 7 GB file, and it would have taken me 3 days to download it.
Digital only for someone like me - and many, many others - is just not a practical way to do business.
There was a lot of controversy leading up to the Xbox One and PS4 announcements around the idea that this gen might do away with disc-based retail games, putting stores like GameStop out of business, and reducing your game collection to a fragile harddrive. Companies like Microsoft ignored consumer cries (at first) and responded with, "This is the future. Deal with it." My experience with my new Wii U this morning illustrates why this is such an issue. Again, this download is under 2 GB and it's already taken me 3 hours and I'm currently 73% done with an ETA of 38 minutes left.
Until we all live on space colonies with flying cars and pilotable robots, digital-only is not a feasible way to distribute games or content.