It's not just going away for PC gaming, it's going away for everything. DVDs are being replaced by stuff like On Demand and Netflix streaming (which is where Netflix considers the future of their business to be, not in mailing stuff). The cost of pressing and shipping disks just doesn't make sense in a world where we can send stuff across wires in a reasonable time frame at a fraction of the cost. Particularly since you don't have to guess how many will sell and then get rid of them when they don't (or face shortages if they do).
The Internet is one of those revolutioary technologies that turns things upside down. Selling physical media is something that's being hit. At this point, there's no stopping it.
That's unfortunately very true. There is one thing that can stop it for people though, and that's simply not having access to it, by either not having the ability to get online because of where you live, or by not being able to afford it. Not to mention natural disasters that can cut people off from being online because of lack of electricity or wires being destroyed (granted that's a bit harder since most of them are buried). It almost makes me wish we'd get hit with a massive solar flare that would take out the countries ability to get online or something right at the hight of this change over to "digital everything".
I'm not saying it doesn't have it's advantages. I watch a LOT of stuff on Netflix "Watch Instantly" service, either through my PC or through my Wii (I haven't tried it on my XBox360 yet). For some things, like movies for instance, I like being able to watch it anytime I want online, but, if I own the physical DvD I can also watch it anytime I want and Not Need an online service or cable or anything else, just the electric to power my TV and DvD/Blu Ray player. Some of us "old timers" also take pride in our "collections" and in showing off those collections. The fact that I have games on CD and DvD that I've had for over 10 years is a small matter of pride for me. That also means that anytime I want, I can take one off my shelf and re-install it and play it whenever I want. We should all keep in mind, as it has happened in the past, that companies and services can and do go under all the time, which can wipe out a whole collection unless the user/owner has it backed up somewhere.
Brad (Frogboy) has mentioned in the past that even if something terrible were to happen someday and Stardock wouldn't be around as a company that those of us who have bought games will ALWAYS be able to get online and download the games we've paid for, even if Stardock isn't around anymore. Now, I'm sure right now and for the far foreseeable future he or someone related to the business will have the financial means to back that up, but, can he Really guarantee that will be the case in..let's say...50 Years? Hell, even 20 years? Granted most of us won't want to kick back and enjoy a game of Elemental 20 years from now, but you never know, maybe one of us will and will actually be lucky enough to have a computer that's old enough and still working that can run it. Without a disk though, if Stardock isn't still around in 20 years, how will you be able to get your hands on it to play it?
We should also keep in mind that in many cases, once things get really old, they become quite valuable. I collect comic books as well and I have some really old books. The oldest book I have is "Amazing Spider-Man #6" which is the first appearance of "The Lizard". In Near Mint condition the book is worth $3750 dollars. Mine isn't in near mint unfortunately, but it is in what's called "Good Condition". The pages are slightly yellowed from age, but the colors are still bright and vibrant and none of the pages are torn. I could probably get at least 2K out of it to a serious collector who was only missing that issue from his collection. If that was a "Digital Comic" however, it wouldn't be worth anything at all. The same thing can be applied to games and disks. Yes, there are actual game disks out there that are worth a Lot more than their original cost if they still work and aren't scratched up. The current price for the game "Ultima: Escape from Mt Drash", which is so old it's a game on Tape Cassette, its valued at $2500. So, even video games, if saved and taken care of, can be worth a Lot of money to collectors when they get really old. Old game collections won't be worth anything in the far future if everything is on a hard drive on a server somewhere.
Even though there are advantages of having everything digital, like not having to keep track of disks and old boxes, or being able to download and play or watch something whenever you want, there are just as many disadvantages like not being able to afford an online service, or not living in an area with a decent connection, and there's also the loss of not being able to collect something until it's so old that it's worth a lot of money simply because it's very old and still in working condition.
People today seem to only see the technological advantages of these new systems and they don't see or just don't care about what's being lost in the transition. They don't think that "Hey, you know, some day I might be really poor and not be able to afford to get online and have access to my digital downloads.", at which point they'll probably regret not having a physical disk they can install even without the internet. Notice with the "Fallen Enchantress" expansion for Elemental Brad has already said it will be "Digital Download ONLY". You know why that is? I think I've got a pretty good idea why. Because so many people are getting free copies of it that if Stardock did put it on disk and everyone who was owed one wanted it on disk that they'd loose a Lot Of Money having to make all those disks and boxes and ship them to the people like us who are getting two free expansions. I'm also willing to bet the next expansion will be "Digital Download ONLY" as well.
If I don't have access to the internet when the expansions come out I'm going to have to send money to Stardock so they can mail me a "back-up disk" copy of the expansions which Brad mentioned a long time ago when someone else brought up a similar topic to this about digital copies. Now I'm also wondering that if I have to do that, will I even be able to play them if I can't get online to activate them?
Hmm....thinking about it more, with everything going this way, people who don't have access to the internet because of whatever reason are going to be getting completely screwed over...