“Digital games killed the gaming store.” The idea that digital downloads of video games would obliterate physical games has been around for as long as the medium itself. “Just wait,” advocates of digital games would say, “a reckoning is coming for brick and mortar game stores and their boxes full of CD’s.” Well, I’m still waiting, as are several indie games, including Toby Fox and his game, Undertale.
Just before Sony’s disappointing E3 conference, Fox announced his surrealist RPG would be heading to the PS4 this summer. But not just in digital form. Fangamer will also be producing a physical collector’s edition of the game, complete with all sorts of tactile goodies, and pretty boxed copy of the game. What amazing times we live in!
The Return of the Physical Collector
The last console generation did almost feature the extinction of physical games. More and more games went digital download only, and trying to find copies of some games that did get a boxed version could be hard to track down. They were dark times for collectors, but the storm has passed.
Games that are traditionally download only, i.e. indie games, have enjoyed a boom of physical copies left, right, and center. Publishers like UIG Entertainment and Sodesco have been creating physical versions of indie games for years now, with titles such as Rouge Stormers, Earthlock, and Among the Sleep. Eagle-eyed readers may notice those are also all Kickstarted games, which themselves have seen a torrent of plastic boxes and CD’s in recent years.
There are also companies that specifically target collectors like Limited Run and Signature Edition. These companies sign up indie game darlings like Slain: Back from Hell, Octodad: Dadliest Catch, and Thomas Was Alone and release physical versions in limited quantities. Fangamer has done this in the past as well with Rez: Infinite and Hyper Light Drifter, giving them all kinds of exclusive items like maps or, in Undertale’s case, a locket that plays the game’s theme tune.
Does it Really Matter?
To most, these physical editions of games don’t matter. And as great as these copies are to collectors, they likely aren’t their most important market. These physical editions bring indie games to those who either don’t have an internet connection good enough to download games (or at all), or lack a PC altogether, where indie games have made home for the last decade.
You’ll notice all of these physical games are all for the PS4. That’s because each console manufacturer requires companies to print a certain number of copies of each game, and at a certain cost. Sony has the lowest minimum print run, and the cheapest cost to print. That makes the PS4 and even the Vita the obvious machines to release these games.
Undertale is a great game, and it deserves to reach as wide an audience as possible. I’ve been waiting for a physical copy for my PS4 ever since I found out about it. Be sure to grab your version of the collector’s edition fast, because it likely won’t stick around long.