Sunday, May 27, 2007

Digital Purchasing

I recently bought X3: Reunion online through Steam. It seemed like a good idea- it was the same price that I would have paid in the store, and I could have it now (well, the next morning- it takes a while to download). No trip to the store needed.

It worked; buying things online pretty much always works. But once I started playing I immediately regretted not purchasing it in the store. For one, I have to exit (or alt+tab) the game in order to read the manual. There's also a quick reference card that I needed to print myself. Then the more I thought about it the more I missed the experience of buying in a store. If I had bought it at Best Buy, I could have used my rewards card, and would have gotten closer to another $5 off (not that $5 is a very significant reason). The most significant loss is the tangible box with manual and CD. That might not be important to some people, but it's significant to me, and I don't really notice it until it's gone.

Possession is nine tenths of the law (or so they say- is it really?), and when you don't possess the box, you're missing something. There was a day years ago where you could actually return software that you're not happy with (before CD writers), but that day has long passed. Sure, Steam will make sure you get all the updates, but if you have the box, you can sell it at EB Games.

I generally sell the games that I don't find significant- the games I don't plan on replaying or showing off to visitors. I hardly ever go back to them, but I do often look over my collection and remember all the good times. I suppose if Steam sold all PC games, I could look over the list of games and reminisce, but that doesn't look too likely to happen.

Music is pretty much the only exception; buying songs online is often great, mostly because you can buy the only songs on the CD that you care for. Of course, sometimes it's good to buy the CD so that you can grow to like some of the songs (I didn't care for Nine Inch Nail's Closer the first time I heard it, but I do now). I don't have enough time nowadays to grow to like songs, so buying the ones that grab me the first time I hear them is what I do now.

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