Thursday, 18 July 2013

The Future is Digital.

As usual, apologies for my absence recently, things have been pretty manic here in the Asylum with Glasgow Comic Con recently, as well as it being the summer holidays, so Allan has had a few days off work, and as you'd expect, we've been out enjoying the sun!

Got lots of good stuff to show you all very soon, I just need to set up a little photography corner for myself beforehand, so I can get things photographed adequately :)

Anyway, back to the topic I am here to discuss.


Yes, digital. The future is digital - apparently - and it's already happening more and more within our daily lives. 

21 years ago, when I had not long been born, my parents didn't have internet (heck, didn't even have a computer!), didn't have mobile phones, didn't have Virgin Media TV, none of the hi-tech things they have now (well, they still don't have a computer...).

Approximately 10 years ago, I had a computer, I had internet, I had a mobile phone. We had Virgin Media in our house, and I had (or had previously had) a few games consoles (albeit ones that didn't focus on online play). But back then, we (as in, the 11 year old kids of that day) still played outside, in the non-digital world, with our friends.

And now, well... we have internet, we have Sky TV, we own a PC, a laptop, an Xbox 360, a PS3, a Wii, multiple DS/DSi/3DS consoles, etc. as do many other people, these "kinds of things" aren't restricted to the upper classes anymore. And with all these techonological advancements, and with us being further into the digital age than ever before, most kids rarely see the light of day now, other than the digital rendering of a sun shining in the sky in the middle of a Call of Duty map.

Things have been becoming more digital over the years, our LIVES have become more digital over the years.

But now, even the digital is becoming more digital.

Video games, which, lets face it, are digital in their basic form. Yes, the discs themselves, and the boxes, and other content are physical, but the content on the disc itself is digital, in some sense of the word.

DLC is making these games become more and more digital, and micro-transactions, too. Leading us further from the physical side of gaming, and futher into the digi-world.

And with the original DRM plans that Microsoft had in place (which have since been scrapped), things looked to get even more digital (wow, how many times have I used that single word in this post!). It has been postponed for now - I say postponed as it is inevitably going to happen one day - but the era of digital downloads is definitely upon us.

Movies have Netflix, Lovefilm, Ultraviolet, and all of the other various ways of non-disc based media. Pay £5/£6 per month on Netflix and Lovefilm to watch as much as you want, digitally. A good deal, yeah, but for us, it's more just a way to see movies/TV shows to try them out prior to buying them to add to our collection. Ultraviolet, on the other hand, is one way to tempt consumers over to digital copies from the physical, as codes are often bundled in with DVD/Bluray copies. 

Games are, and have been, available to download on both the Xbox Live Marketplace and the PSN Store for a while now, heck, years even, but more so now than ever, they are being presented as the best way to own your games - despite this, the prices for digital copies are often the same price - or more expensive! - than brand new retail copies in stores, meaning that many consumers that prefer a physical copy will not have any reason to purchase the downloadable copy instead of the disc based.

With the demise of physical copy media looming over our heads, what does that mean for general consumers? What does that mean for collectors?

Well, for a standard consumer, what it means is that pricing will be far less competitive than before, as you'd then be purchasing direct from the company itself, therefore instead of them just issuing an RRP to retailers, and allowing them to dictate their own prices, they would be the only seller, meaning they could make their offerings cost as much or as little as they want - and let's face it, they all want a profit.

For collectors, it could mean one of two things. 1, it could be the end of all Collector's Edition copies of everything, with the occasional exception of, for example, an "anniversary" edition, or whatever. Or 2, it could mean that more and more things get a Collector's Edition release, as companies know that a lot of people like physical copies, and by making ALL physical copies be CEs, they can charge what they like, just by adding a few extra items to the package.

Both options are pretty worrying.

Also, it would mean that previous CE releases, and maybe even normal copy releases could become sought-after in the future, much like how N64 games, etc are very popular (especially when CIB, MIB or sealed!) nowadays. It would probably take a fair amount of time for the items to appreciate in value, especially as I foresee many people completely selling up at the point where things go all digital (leading to a drop in the items overall value), but it could possibly happen (but not to the extent of N64 games, since most items have a much larger print run these days than what N64 releases did).

Personally, for us in the Asylum, when things go all digital, we will still keep our collection as is, but we will have far less "need" to buy every game that is released, since it's not like a digital copy of a game is gonna sell out, eh?

We'd probably continue to collect, by picking up the older things we've missed over the years, and also any new CEs that get released, if they do.

But it will definitely be the end of an era, for us, at least.

What do you think about moving into the digital age?
Are you looking forward to it, or awaiting it with a sense of dread?

Let me know in the comments below!

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