Starfield is one of the most anticipated games of 2023. It is a massive sci-fi RPG from Bethesda, the studio behind the Elder Scrolls and Fallout series. Starfield promises to let players explore a galaxy with over a thousand planets, take on missions, customize their ships, engage in space combat, and more.
But there is one thing that Starfield will not have: a physical disc version. According to a tweet from Bethesda Support that was later deleted, all physical editions of Starfield will include a code for the chosen platform, but no disc. This means that players who buy the physical edition will still have to download the game digitally.
This decision has sparked controversy and confusion among fans and gamers. Some have expressed disappointment and frustration with Bethesda for abandoning physical media and forcing them to rely on internet connections and storage space. Others have defended Bethesda’s choice as a logical and inevitable step towards the future of gaming, where digital distribution is more convenient, efficient, and environmentally friendly.
But why did Bethesda make this decision? And what does it mean for the gaming industry and the players? Here are some possible explanations and implications.
The Benefits of Digital Distribution
One of the main reasons why Bethesda might have opted for digital-only distribution is that it offers several benefits for both the developer and the consumer.
First of all, digital distribution eliminates the costs and risks associated with physical production, distribution, and inventory. By not having to manufacture, ship, store, and sell discs, Bethesda can save money and resources, as well as avoid potential issues such as delays, shortages, damages, thefts, or returns.
Secondly, digital distribution allows for more flexibility and control over the game’s content and updates. By not having to rely on discs, Bethesda can deliver patches, fixes, enhancements, and expansions more easily and quickly to the players. They can also adjust the game’s price and availability according to demand and feedback.
Thirdly, digital distribution can enhance the player’s experience and convenience. By not having to use discs, players can access the game faster and easier, without having to worry about losing or damaging them. They can also enjoy features such as pre-loading, cloud saving, cross-play, and cross-progression.
The Challenges of Digital Distribution
However, digital-only distribution also comes with some challenges and drawbacks that Bethesda and the players will have to face.
One of the main challenges is that digital distribution requires a reliable and fast internet connection. This can be a problem for players who live in areas with poor or limited internet access or who have data caps or bandwidth restrictions. Downloading a large game like Starfield could take hours or days depending on the connection speed and quality.
Another challenge is that digital distribution depends on online services and platforms. This means that players will have to create accounts, accept terms of service, and abide by rules and policies of third-party providers such as Microsoft or Steam. This also means that players will be subject to potential issues such as server outages, hacking attacks, or service shutdowns that could affect their access to the game.
A third challenge is that digital distribution reduces the player’s ownership and control over their games. By not having a physical disc, players will not be able to resell, trade, lend, or gift their games to others. They will also not be able to play their games offline or without authorization from the online service or platform.
The Future of Digital Gaming?
Starfield is not the first game to go digital-only. Many indie games and some AAA games have already adopted this model in recent years. However, Starfield is one of the biggest and most hyped games to do so, which could signal a trend for the future of gaming.
As technology advances and internet access improves, digital distribution will likely become more prevalent and dominant in the gaming industry. More developers will opt for digital-only releases to save costs and resources, while more consumers will prefer digital downloads for convenience and ease.
However, this does not mean that physical discs will disappear completely. There will still be a market and a demand for physical media among collectors, enthusiasts, or those who value ownership and control over their games. There will also be cases where physical discs are necessary or preferable due to technical or legal reasons.
Ultimately, the choice between digital-only or physical disc versions will depend on various factors such as personal preference, availability, affordability, accessibility, security, quality, etc. Each option has its pros and cons that gamers will have to weigh and decide for themselves.
Starfield is set to launch on September 6, 2023, for Xbox Series X|S and PC. It will be available on Game Pass on day one, as well as in various editions that include different bonuses and extras. Whether you choose to buy the physical edition with a code or the digital edition with a download, you will be able to enjoy one of the most ambitious and immersive games ever made by Bethesda.
No, Starfield will not have a physical disc version. All physical editions of Starfield will include a code for the chosen platform, but no disc. This means that players who buy the physical edition will still have to download the game digitally.