Will We Ever See Again More Physical Media Ownership than Digital Media / Streaming?

By Todd Russell Jan27,2024

We like to watch what’s happening in other entertainment spaces — movies, TV, streaming –and compare for possible future guidance on gaming (see: Game Subscription Price Increases Are Inevitable – See What’s Happening with Cable and Streaming TV).

The author of the article makes good points about higher quality for 4K Blu-ray over digital media and streaming, but the coverage is only surface deep, not really plunging into what makes having higher quality physical media so important and valuable.

I switched to an OLED TV that’s larger than anything I’d had before. This TV has made the imperfections of streaming so much more obvious – with the result that I’ve started buying more and more 4K Blu-rays, without being entirely conscious about what I was doing. However, I’ve now recognized my behavior, and for 2024 I’ve decided to not only embrace it, but to go hard on it

2024 is the year I feed my OLED TV with 4K Blu-rays, and you should too | TechRadar0

As of this writing, we have bought a grand total of zero (0) 4K UHD movies and zero Xbox Series X game discs, despite owning an Xbox Series X for a couple years now. We have, however, bought a small few PS5 game discs and the most physical for the Nintendo Switch, but still not a lot. The Xbox 360 was really the last gaming console we bought much in the way of physical games. PC? lol, maybe a dozen or so PC physical copy games in the last 20 or so years.

Music? That remains the one area we still tend to buy CDs here and there from favorite artists and within the last year — and then rip them to MP3, FLAC or both — we’ve started buying vinyl again. Very limited, but we’re buying. More on the vinyl toward the end of this article.

Physical media ownership on a larger scale needs to return.

Not because we need to own more “stuff”, not because we need to develop a hoarder’s mentality with entertainment: music, movies and games. Because there is no real ownership with digital media and streaming.

Have covered this topic before in much greater detail here: OPINION: Sony reminds us that the illusion of “owning” Digital Movies and TV Series are lessons in Hollywood Thievery – so read that if you want to dig deeper on the “why”, but the article above made me think of a different side of things.

The reality — or lack thereof — this ever happening.

The more likely scenario, unfortunately, is that physical media on a wider scale collected, enjoyed and shared with family will probably not return, despite the author of the linked article’s personal goals.

I’m not a luddite by any stretch and prefer the concept of owning games and movies that can be played for the rest of their physically working life. Yes, physical media degrades, there is disc rot, there is a finite period that any storage media will last, but it can be copied to new media to extend its life to reach that of the owner and those collections passed down to descendants.

There is no passing down of digital media that is rented, beyond password sharing, which is a violation of most Terms of Service. Account sharing is almost always disallowed. Read the fine print.

Recently, on a Twitch stream, I remarked that I would not sell any of our (working) consoles. That would have to be done once I’ve died. I’ve gotten the collection reduced to fitting within a closet space in boxes and am going to try and keep it around that size. The games I need to go through and maybe sell a few of those and buy some that I want to keep and replay more. I don’t have the right collection set on games. No, I don’t need to own every game, I only want to own the ones that I really enjoy playing and/or have a special memory.

Same with music. I’m only buying vinyl albums for special occasions that I can play the entire side of the album at least, because skipping around songs on vinyls is neither convenient or desirable. Want to use the record player for special occasions in the game room, mostly, otherwise will use digital media. The musical equivalent of breaking open a fine bottle of wine or champagne for special events and circumstances. Maybe when someone breaks a world record on something!

What do you think, friendly gamer readers? Is there any chance someday physical media ownership will return or has that ship long since sailed? I’d like to think people will want to own the arts in some physical touch format: books, movies, games, but it doesn’t seem very likely in 2024.

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