It seems physical copies have joined the dinosaurs in being gone from this earth. Most “physical” copies are just a game code or a fake disk holding a game code. It has all become digital now with a few, very few shining examples of true physical copies.
The new games like Doom Eternal, Cyberpunk 2077, and Sekiro Shadows Die Twice. All of these games offer a “physical copy” but they are just a code in a box that’s it no disk and tied to Steam or some other game distribution network. So the physical copy is worthless and probably wont be any cheaper than the digital copy.
I am a big fan of physical games. I have been very against the industries move towards digital media mainly because it means you do not own your game at all you are really just renting it from the distributor you buy it from. For more on this look at this article I wrote about what happens to your Steam games if Steam shuts down.
This perplexes me since I don’t like how anti consumer this all is. At any time the distributor can remove your account and there goes all your games and money. The horror of it is you signed the End User License Agreement and agreed to their terms probably without reading it.
It gets worse if you do get a physical copy sometimes it is just as bad as a digital copy were the game is tied to your account and that game is a one time shot. You can’t resell it or anything and if you lose your account log in details then you have to buy a new copy and create a new account.
I discovered this with Mass Effect 3 I have 1 and 2 and have been holding off on 3 since all the controversy surrounding the third installment. I wanted to buy it for cheap on the used market but found out that it was a physical disc but the game needed an Origin account that that game would become tied to so a used copy would not work for anyone else.
You Can Still Own Your Games Sometimes
While you cannot buy a physical copy of most games these days you still can own your video games if you choose your distributor wisely, and you can make your own physical copy that really does work.
I am talking about one distributor that has no DRM and they are Good Old Games for more on them here is an article I wrote about them and why I now prefer them over Steam and other game distributors. The short of it is they do not believe in DRM at all. All of their games are completely free of DRM meaning they are easy to copy and install on any computer you want to use them on. While this makes piracy very easy if a game is on their platform they still believe that you should own your game.
Through GOG.com you can download the offline game installers and install them on any computer you have and keep them for all time. Some people buy tons of flash dives and keep them on those while others burn them on their own disks and print off their own labels and really make a project of it all just to have a physical copy of the game.
Now this may be old news I have not used GamersGate for a long time but there was a way to trick their system if it was not served through Steam or some other service but their own game there was a way to have a DRM free copy from them as well but it took some computer smarts. What you had to do was download the game then take all the files from that temp folder and move it to another folder. Then click install and then go back into the temp folder and steal the install.exe of the game that just appeared and throw it in your new folder. This would give you a perfect copy of the game DRM free. I do not know if this applies today this was many years ago that you could do this so try at your own risk.
This only worked for certain games and was a very rare use case. I only learned about it because of desperation. I really wanted a game and the physical copies of it were gone. It was Sword Of The Stars: Murder Of Crows an add on to the original game Sword Of The Stars. I did not have internet at the time so the only internet I had access to was the Universities library. I bought the game and brought it home and tried to install if off of my flash drive and the intall.exe was a dummy file. I contacted GamersGate and they said tough you have no solutions. So with a lot of digging I found this exploit. I took home my newly downloaded copy with the install file and it worked.
These are the only methods I know of for you to get a real copy that is not just renting from a company one is legit and the other is not so much, but you bought the game so you should be able to use it how you see fit.
In researching this article I could not find any new video games that really had a physical copy. Only game code holding boxes that are worthless to me. There are ways to have your physical copies but they need to be created by you unfortunately. While it is do able and they can work for other computers you need to get your games from certain distributors and sadly most of them are limited in their game selections.
If you have any questions or comments please feel free to leave them down below. Thank you for reading.