A few days ago, I bought the digital edition of Call of Duty : Advanced Warfare Gold Edition on my PS4 during as it was on sale for 49$. Weirdly enough, I had just sold that same game, on disc, for 40$ after I bought it for 40$ and played through it once. Reading that last sentence makes me realize my thought process didn't make much sense . In the end, I tried to rationalize it by telling myself that, in a way, I bought the first DLC and the comfort of not having to switch discs for that extra 9$. It made more sense, sure, but it brought forth a new set of questions about digital distribution.
In fact, Call of Duty : Advanced Warfare is only the second "big-budget" game I've bought digitally on my PS4. The first one was LittleBigPlanet 3 when it dropped to 24$ on Boxing Day. Now the actual definition of "big-budget" is pretty vague. Usually, for me, a "big-budget" game is a game that has enough content/production value to be put on a disc and sold (Obviously that approach is only possible since the Seventh-Generation, as every console game before that was on a physical support).
As a man who loves to own many games and have them all neatly displayed in alphabetical order and by console, my rule for the past 9 years (since I first bought a 7th-generation console) has been pretty simple : If there's a physical version of the game, I'll buy the disc. If not, then I have to go digital. Free PS+ games obviously were treated differently, but you get the point. I like having physical copies, that way I actually really OWN them. You don't get the same feeling when buying something on the PS Store or on Steam or whatever mean of digital distribution you choose. There's also the fear of the console maker (Sony, in this case) deciding not to support this game anymore at one point, pulling it from the store or something. Some part of me knew this way of thinking couldn't last forever, as digital distribution was, and still is, taking over. However, I was convinced that this process wouldn't be completed for at least another generation, and that people like me were still safe for a few years, if not a decade.
Eventually though, cracks started to appear in my "physical" armour (bad pun intended). I started getting a bit lazy and sometimes didn't care to swap discs, so I played games I had bought on the PS Store - including free PS+ games - or I simply played the disc-based game inside the console. More importantly, I started to read and listen to arguments FOR digital distribution and consider them seriously. A few arguments struck me more than others, mainly the fact that physical copies, while more "real", are more prone to breaking and/or not working properly for some reason. There's also the environmental cost of physical distribution, which is, for me, quite important even if not astronomical. Also, I'm the type of gamer who wants developers to get their due, and not be f***ed by the likes of GameStop and Best Buy with used game sales (I'm not entirely against used games sales, but I get why publishers/developers don't like it). The last argument is purely bound to my personality. Buying digital forces me to really think about what I buy, since I can't return it or sell it to some dude on the Internet. I have to make a decision which will be ultimate if I decide to buy it. And the laziness argument is always prevalent, even with a guy like me who 95% of the time don't mind standing up, taking a few steps, swap discs and sit back down.
Obviously, those arguments might not convince a lot of people, but they were strong enough to make me buy LBP3 and CoD : AW. I don't know what the future holds on that front and if I'll really make the jump to digital completely. I don't think so (I even got Shadow of Mordor, FIFA 15 and Bloodborne on disc in the past few weeks, although I paid less than 90$ for all three combined...) but the first steps have been taken.