The beta for Blizzard’s latest shooter Overwatch has finished. It’s a great game, plenty of fun and looks great; but that’s a tale for another time.
The open beta will have prompted plenty of gamers to go out and place their pre-orders for Overwatch, if they hadn’t already, and they’re going to hit some disappointment. Plenty of them, such as myself, are going to want to purchase the title digitally. It’s more convenient: the files will pre-load so the game simply unlocks on launch day and I can switch games at any time in a gaming session as I don’t need to pop the disc in. I’m also not going to damage the title and, given I never trade anything in, those are all benefits with no drawbacks.
So I duly went to make my purchase. I have one option for purchasing the digital version and that is to visit Microsoft’s own Xbox store. Here the game is an eye-watering £54.99 for the ‘Origins’ edition, which gives me an additional skin for one hero (er, great).
Heading over to Amazon, the physical version of the game retails for just £42. I can even still get the ‘Origins’ edition with that all important skin (plus a coin, for some reason) for £44.99. As a direct comparison, Overwatch is £10 cheaper if you buy an actual, printed disc copy.
I get that publishers/Microsoft/whoever has to host the game files on servers for people to purchase and want to cover those costs, but they also don’t have the messy business of, you know, actually manufacturing anything to worry about. I’m sure this is Microsoft selling for Overwatch’s RRP, but the fact is that most people just don’t pay that anymore, they go to places like Amazon.
This is by no means unique to Overwatch, it’s commonplace. It has simply been highlighted again by another highly anticipated release. Until this ridiculous model changes, digital downloads are going to struggle to overcome their physical counterparts.