My husband and I have a long gaming history together. Back before 2007 – when we tried WoW and discovered the virtual delights of MMORPGs – playing something else would usually mean buying a PC game box, buying two boxes (for local network coop) or trying something new on console.
These days, “let’s playing something else” usually means the latest MMO fad or going back to a MMO we have played before. Gone are the days of buying boxes: so there’s no ritual of travelling to a PC gaming store in the hope they have copies in stock. That has been replaced by the always available digital download, and what a download!
NB: I included a couple of non-MMOs to show just how crazy their disk usage can be as well.
I suppose recent trends in game design have excerbated this problem, lots of cutscenes and the improvements in graphics have bloated game installs beyond any sensible bounds – 20-40 gigabytes of data just to get started. It’s made worse by the amount of patching required to get a game installed or even an already installed old game back up to speed. Our internet connection is pretty fast (40 meg, in theory) but having to patch two computers does impact patching times, its either a double download or the delay in copying on and back off a memory stick.
On balance I think the new world of digital delivery and low-cost / free to play access to games is better than the old world of “buy a box and hope it’s good”. It can be a bit deflating to, on a whim, want to play something together but to then put that off for an evening or over-night while the game downloads and patches. I do sometimes miss the old spontaneity of choosing a box from shelves stacked with games – browsing a Steam queue doesn’t have the same tactile appeal, somehow…