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Alan Wake 2 And The Digital-Only Future

Back in 2012, when Hurricane Sandy hit the East Coast of the United States, I remember the damage it caused to my hometown and my friends. During the time of the hurricane, a friend of mine was working at GameStop in New Jersey, and he told me how some die-hard Halo fans traveled all the way down from Connecticut to New Jersey just to pick up a copy of Halo 4 as all the GameStops in Connecticut seemed to be closed.

With the ever-prominent rise of digital distribution being at the point where it is more than a decade later, this scenario seems highly unlikely now.


The amount of video games purchased digitally in the past year alone compared to physical versions is almost 10 to 1, with the Entertainment Retail Association (via BBC), a UK-based trade organization, citing that roughly “89.5% of games sold in 2022 were digital downloads.” That means only 10.5% of copies sold were physical discs or cartridges.

While I can see the appeal of grabbing a game digitally, there is still a market for people who want a physical product. It’s not just the want to own something you can touch but also the advantages of having something that can be resold. 

Some games you may want to hold onto for a long period of time. However, others you play maybe once or twice, experience everything the game has to offer, and you want to sell it. Linear action games with no online multiplayer, such as the upcoming Alan Wake 2, tend to have short shelf lives.

Remedy’s Headquarters.


While I love Remedy’s games and have been a fan of theirs since the original Max Payne came out for PS2 in the early 2000s, most of their games are story-driven single-player games, which you play for a finite amount of time before moving onto something else.

Believe it or not, there are still some places where fast-speed internet is unavailable. You go to Upstate New York, and there are plenty of towns where you are lucky enough to get one bar of service on your cell phone.

Remedy Entertainment’s main office is in Espoo, Finland, in the greater Helsinki area. Helsinki has even managed to become the mobile gaming capital of the world. 

Not every country’s infrastructure is as good as Finland’s. Hell, in some areas in countries, even with high-end internet, such as South Korea, you can download an entire HD movie in 7 seconds in Seoul and still get limited internet access in some rural regions.

While I’m no marketing expert, and I’m sure that the higher-ups at Remedy have likely taken this into account when they decided only to release their game digitally, the fact that THQ Nordic, an Austrian-based video game publisher, has reached out to them and offered to publish their game physically shows that there is still at least some desire in the games industry for physical releases.

The PT demo was only available to download for a limited time before it was taken down.


To me, though, the bigger issue is the lack of ownership of games. There have been numerous reports of digital games being taken off digital storefronts. At that point, what happens when the game is no longer available to download? At least with a physical game cartridge or CD, the worst you have to worry about is the physical media getting lost or eroding over time. 

There have even been reports of people having digital games that they’ve paid for being taken back by developers. 

What happens when a digital storefront closes down, and the games you have saved there can no longer be accessed? I recently backed up dozens of games on my PlayStation 5 to Sony’s cloud storage; what happens if there’s a cyberattack on the PlayStation Network, like in 2011 when the PSN couldn’t be accessed for six weeks?

I remember in 2014 when the Silent Hills PT demo was briefly available on PlayStation 4 before being removed permanently. Just recently, YouTuber Jirard Khalil purchased every game on the 3DS and Wii U Eshop for about $20,000 to preserve them from being lost forever.

We are heading towards an era where we are paying to rent these games for as long as the publishers see fit. And the fact that we are being conditioned to accept this is highly unnerving. Some may argue that it is more convenient to purchase products digitally, but in the long run, they may prove to be anything but.

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