On Tuesday, Capcom revealed that DuckTales: Remastered will be delisted from digital stores. That announcement left me in a state of anger. I already own WayForward’s brilliant title, but I couldn’t hide my disappointment. I was livid at my work desk, frantically complaining to other gamers I know. Sure, I already have DuckTales downloaded, so this shouldn’t grind my gears so much. But, alas, I can’t help but feel bad for others. What about the people who haven’t been able to buy it? What about the players who may not have the money?
Without much notice, DuckTales: Remastered will vanish forever from the digital space on Thursday. That is to say, today. The unexpected announcement has left me thinking about the industry as a whole. With gamers and studios adopting more and more of a digital outlook, I’m concerned about the future of video games. Actually, to be honest, I’m terrified.
Digital delisting is becoming the new normal
DuckTales: Remastered is not the first game to be delisted, and it won’t be the last. Various games from Telltale such as Minecraft: Story Mode and Tales From The Borderlands are no longer available. For people who have never experienced these games, they’re out of luck unless they can find a physical copy. Licensed games seem to be the biggest casualties when it comes to digital delisting. Games such as Amazing Spider-Man 2, Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World, and Marvel Ultimate Alliance 1 + 2 are no longer available. Since some of these are digital-only, they’re forever lost to the void.
Gamers looking to experience these titles are entirely out of luck. Delisted games are gone forever. It’s crazy to think that some fantastic video games can disappear, just like that. Whether full games or demos, like the famous P.T. on PlayStation 4, digital gaming feels more like a curse than a gift. For an industry that consistently praises classic games, delisting digital titles makes it tough to preserve history.
Physical makes the world go round
I’m a physical video game collector. I spend a lot of money at GameStop and Amazon. Preorders are important to me, and I make sure to support the developers I love. Of course, there are times when I need to purchase something digitally because that’s the only format. When given a choice, however, I’ll always take the physical route.
My reasoning is simple: when a digital game is delisted, you can still access it with a disc. Physical video games are great for historians looking to preserve experiences for future generations. Imagine if we didn’t have the ability to play classics like Super Metroid, Ocarina of Time, or Ninja Gaiden again. If digital gaming existed in the 90s, we would probably be missing out on a number of amazing games today.
The scariest thing about digital gaming lies in your personal accounts on each console. Digital games are tied to your account. On Xbox Live, I have a collection of 900 games (a lot of them digital-only) that I would hate to lose. Imagine if my Xbox Live account was suspended or I lost my credentials to access it. That would be a catastrophic disaster.
And that sort of thing does happen. I have friends who were locked out of their accounts because they were tied to email addresses they stopped using. There is a number of reasons why it could happen, but losing out on your digital collection would be the worst. Not being able to play your favorite games, especially because of a technicality, is an anxiety-inducing situation I don’t want to experience.
A digital future can affect lives
My complaints about digital delisting may be selfish, but if we head towards an all-digital future, it will affect many people for better or for worse. Think of chain stores like GameStop or local mom and pop shops. I frequent a retro video game store near my house every week. In addition to classics, they also sell new releases. If the industry heads towards an all-digital future, stores like that will become useless.
There’s something special about walking into the store, browsing shelves, and holding boxes in your hand. I’ve been doing this since going to Toys R Us as a kid. I love grabbing a case, looking at the game, and making my decisions before going to the register. Shifting toward a digital future will prohibit these wonderful experiences. And even worse, it will put many people out of a job.
Conclusion: The future is near, and it scares me
The video game industry is on my mind every single day. I love the medium, and it’s obviously important to me since I write for various sites. Unfortunately, looking at the trajectory in which we’re moving, an all-digital future seems like an inevitability. I hate the fact that certain games might become unavailable due to technicalities and licensing issues. Losing access to games I’ve bought because of account issues terrifies me. The fact that I could spend hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars and then lose those games is unfathomable to me.
The industry is heading into a place where digital gaming will most likely be the norm. While that may seem like something we should embrace, there are just too many roadblocks and issues to it, and it all makes me believe that we should steer clear from making this format the primary way to collect our games.