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What would need to happen to make you go digital only?

Do you still buy your games from an actual shop?

GameCentral readers discuss how and where they buy their video games, whether its in shops, online, or digitally.

The subject for this weeks Hot Topic was suggested by reader msv858 who asked whether the majority of your purchases are digital or for physical discs and cartridges. If you still buy physically then where do you get them from and how do you make sure you get the best deal?

Although some people only did one or the other most admitted to buying a mix of physical and digital games, and increasingly more of the latter as shop deals get worse and online sales get better.

Sympathy purchase

With the exception of the odd old Xbox game that I buy and download from the Xbox Gold store, I still prefer to purchase games on disc.

Unless you have a superfast broadband connection, downloading 80 to 100GB of game is just laborious. Its bad enough waiting for a 1GB Overwatch update.

I tend to shop around for the best deal, but in recent years its almost always a supermarket purchase because they often tend to be a bit cheaper. I still go into GAME before making any purchase, as I kind of feel sorry for them, being that their business is being eroded by Amazon and digital downloads. I do often buy stuff in GAME.

Im sure there will be a time when I switch to mostly digital downloads, but that will be when I can actually get a fibre connection…

Launch purchases

I buy a fair number of games on release, including recently FIFA 19 and Call Of Duty: Black Ops 4.

if I am really sure I will like a game I will buy it digitally. I enjoy Call Of Duty and bought both last years and this years digitally. I like the convenience of being able to start the game whichever disc is in the drive.

FIFA I bought on disc as I wasnt sure I would keep it in the long run.

I trade games in at CeX as they are very convenient to use. They give good trade-in prices, especially if you get credit rather than cash. If I want to buy with the credit I can check online and see if the game is available in my local store. If it isnt I can order online using the credit receipt.

On quite a few occasions I have bought a game full price at release, traded it after a couple of weeks for about £30 then rebought it months later when I fancied playing it again for about £10.
Manic Miner 100 (gamertag)

Second-hand emotion

I always buy physical games and even as an adult I feel like I get just as excited now when I get a new game as I did 20 years ago. By new, I mean a game I havent played before as I get quite a lot second-hand now. I do have different reasoning with regards to if Ill get a game new or not.

For instance, I recently bought Horizon Zero Dawn second-hand for £15. The reason for this being that its sold over 7 million copies worldwide (so says Wikipedia) so in my eyes Sony have more than made enough money and the point has been made that people want more games like this. Ill buy a game new when its something I really want and think will be brilliant, but I also want to do well.

So a few games Ive bought brand new over the last year are Persona 5, Sonic Mania, and Divinity: Original Sin II. Also, because I am behind the times with my backlog (I only got a PlayStation 4 late last year) its meant Ive picked up some great games new, but at a fraction of the cost. So things like Wolfenstein, NieR: Automata, Nioh and several others.

The reason I dont buy digitally is due to the costs involved most of the time. Take two huge games out this month, Red Dead Redemption II and Call Of Duty: Black Ops 4. Both of these are £59.99 on the PS Store (or there are versions of Black Ops for £89.99 or £109.99 – whos spending over a hundred quid on a game?!), but a quick search on eBay and you can get a new physical copy of Black Ops for £42.85, or a new copy of Red Dead II from Smyths for £44.99. So its a no brainer for me choosing physical over digital. Plus, you cant sell or exchange a digital version whereas you could easily sell either of those two games before Christmas and recuperate £35 if you were so inclined.

I do like to try out indie games and as these can only be purchased digitally thats obviously where I get them from. I dont mind though as these are generally cheap and some amazing deals can be found when theres a sale on. Plus, smaller developers are getting my money and good things can come from that.

As for pre-ordering games I generally dont as Im quite against the practice for a lot of reasons (game might be bad or buggy, encourages pre-order bonuses and betas so you could end up paying £50 to play a demo of a game). I have to come across as hypocritical here though as I have pre-ordered Red Dead II. This is my first pre-order since Grand Theft Auto: Vice City in 2002 and it was only a fiver deposit to get a game Ive been looking forward to for a long time, so I figured I was allowed one pre-order.

So yeah, physical copies for me for the foreseeable future.



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Intangible present

Me personally, I used to go to my local supermarket Sainsburys to buy any new releases due to my older son working there so I would be entitled to 10% staff discount and not that long ago Sainsburys would always have a special offer on to entice the punters into buying a new big game from them. Like, for example, spend £30 in store and buy so and so game which may be £10 to £15 off the actual RRP of that game.

As mentioned only this week about supermarkets in general, they all seem to have stopped these kind of offers in the last couple of years or so. I also go to Argos as well, again due to my sons staff discount being connected to Sainsburys (Every little helps!). I myself have never bought a digital game and this is due to when I purchase a game, say for one of my sons birthdays or as a Christmas present, etc. you just cant wrap up a digital game online and give them it as a present!

Price comparison

I currently have over 150 games installed on my Xbox One S and 318 in my ready to install list. Of all these titles only 13 are disc based.

Theres simply been so many digital offers that Ive built up quite a collection of games and at the time many of the games I purchased were cheaper than at retail. (also have Games with Gold games, EA Access titles, and Game Pass which has made digital seem more natural to me).

Before doing this Ive always compared prices with Amazon (the marketplace) and eBay so Ill give a few examples of what I purchased digitally on offer.

Mortal Kombat XL: £14 digital – Amazon new £25
Middle-Earth: Shadow Of Mordor: £4.80 digital – £18 new on Amazon.

I could list many others but basically almost every digital version Ive downloaded has been significantly cheaper than at retail if you take into account the offers that come round and waiting for offers isnt difficult when you have a healthy-sized backlog.

Alongside all the digital-only titles Ive picked up Ive really come to favour a download over of a
disc and I really appreciate being to hop from and back to many different game titles with such
convenience, especially as I can find it difficult at times to settle into a game so have to try a few out.

I even traded in Star Wars: Battlefront II a few months back at GAME for £15, left with a £15 Xbox credit voucher and downloaded Battlefront II for just £9, leaving me £6 better off.

Ive since come round to paying more for digital downloads because Ive regretted trading in collections of games before and then wishing I had many of them back at a later date but simply couldnt find them in the perfect condition that Id sold them in unless I wanted to pay over the odds.

When I download a game digitally now I dont see that Ive just lost £40 or £50 odd as I get
to keep the game. Even taking into account licensing issues that can mean a game is removed in the vast majority of cases its in your download history for future use.

My latest download was Forza Horizon 4: Ultimate Edition (£68 thanks to wallet top-ups at CD Keys).

Im aware that this is still rather a pricey download but the Ultimate Edition of this game was half
digital anyway with car passes, additional car packs and two expansion packs to be released digitally, and Ill play the game for months.

One way I reconcile the price is that a good night out with drinks, food, maybe a film and travel (or
a good day out) could easily amount to £50 and I dont expect to receive any money back after the event.

I also have shelves full up and piles of last gen games Blu Rays and CDs that are climbing up from the floor as oddly I cant bring myself to go digital for films and CDs however odd that may sound, but thats a letter for another day.

What I can finally say though is that Im much more critical about what I do download when
it comes to paying near the full (or full) amount for a game.

Regular customer

If I buy new games Ive been using SimplyGames for over a year now, they are usually well below RRP with quick, free delivery.

I order Call Of Duty for my son on Wednesday last week and it arrived on Friday, so he was happy. Our local independent closed down a few years back so no guilt for buying online.



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Delivery problems

I used to buy a lot of games online from but a large number of deliveries went missing. It reached the point Play accused me of stealing from them. On the day GTA IV was released I bought a different game from them. The game did turn up but the outer packaging had clearly been opened. At this point I decided to get everything posted to my mums house instead.

When routed to my mums house no packages went missing and it also had the added benefit that she was always home to sign for things. (It also gave me an incentive to visit her). When I was out of the country on an extended business trip I decided to use to buy her a birthday present but sadly they cancelled the order, without warning, two days before her birthday. Fortunately, I noticed and bought a replacement from

That was the last order I placed with and I then exclusively used Amazon instead. They seemed pretty good and when I received a PS Vita game box with no game inside they replaced it without any issues. Then two years ago I ordered a PlayStation VR from them and had it sent to my office. The delivery man went to reception with five small packages and received one signature from the receptionist. He then used this signature to register six items as delivered. My PlayStation VR was the sixth item.

As the delivery was signed for refused to acknowledge the item was not delivered and sent me an email accusing me and/or the receptionist of stealing the PlayStation VR. They also refused to refund the item and said that if I was innocent I needed to launch a criminal investigation against the receptionist, if I did this they would then consider sending me a replacement. I contacted the police and the office security team gave them a copy of the CCTV recording of the delivery. The police were annoyed by having their time wasted but did provide Amazon with a written statement saying that I had not stolen the item. A few weeks later Amazon sent a replacement.

I have not used (or indeed any online shop) in the last two years. I am tempted to try a few of the ones that have been recommended in the Inbox but have generally used PSN and the Switch eShop for the majority of my game purchases. Apart from a couple of second-hand games all my recent PlayStation 4 purchases have been from PSN, generally in a sale. I trust Nintendo less than Sony though, so although I have bought a lot of indie games from the eShop all bigger games have been bought on cartridge. Most purchases have been from Argos as my local supermarkets have very limited stock and GAME is very, very expensive by comparison.


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