Welcome back to another Community Soapbox article! If you’ve got something you’d like to say to our community, check here for more information about how to get your thoughts up in lights.
With the recent announcement that BioShock Infinite would require a 3 DVD install and 30GB of HDD space (along with previous titles having 20GB+ installs – RAGE, Max Payne 3 and Hitman Absolution to name a few), the time has come to ask the question: Should game companies be using Blu-ray for PC game installation media?
Before presenting my view on this, let’s look at the specs.
DVD vs Blu-ray – by the numbers
Dual-layer DVDs hold approximately 9GB of data. This causes certain games to have multiple discs for installation (three in the case of BioShock Infinite and Max Payne 3 – and that’s with heavy compression on disc). In contrast, Blu-ray discs can hold up to 50GB of data when using a dual layer disc (25GB for a single layer disc). This is up to about five times the amount of data that a dual layer DVD can hold.
The benefits of switching to Blu-ray
The first benefit of switching to Blu-ray is pretty obvious. The extra amount of space on a Blu-ray disc means less disc-swapping. This leads on to another benefit — less disc-swapping means less wear and tear on the eject mechanisms on Blu-ray drives, meaning the drives will, in theory, last longer.
Along with this, the extra space available on Blu-ray will make it easier to include high-resolution textures for PC games on the disc (and who doesn’t love high-resolution textures?). This will, in turn, make PC games look better.
Also, given that most PC games are also released on PS3 (which uses Blu-ray as the standard format), it wouldn’t be too hard to factor PC discs in Blu-ray disc production orders for when games get shipped.
The negatives of switching to Blu-ray
Blu-ray discs tend to cost more which could end up driving up prices of games at stores (which would have a flow-on effect to digital pricing). Along with this, it can be a bit of a hard sell for people who don’t have a Blu-ray drive in their PC to get one installed.
What if I don’t have a Blu-ray drive in my PC?
These can be had for as little as $54 for a DVD burner/Blu-ray reader combo drive (prices sourced from StaticIce) and they’re dead easy to install. Remember when you replaced that old CD drive with a DVD drive? The same process is used when replacing a DVD drive with a Blu-ray drive (it’s made even easier with the prevalance of drives using SATA instead of IDE).
Game companies should start using Blu-ray discs for PC game installation media going forward. However, this shouldn’t be done in a rush. It should be done in stages (start with games requiring three DVDs or more – preferably with a Blu-ray version sold in tandem with the DVD version for a while) and gradually work backwards from there when people start getting comfortable with the idea – with the ultimate outcome being Blu-ray discs becoming standard issue much like DVDs are now (and before that, CDs).
When people start getting comfortable with Blu-ray drives as a requirement going forward, developers can add in all the high-res textures packed onto the disc. It would also help save money in the long run on disc production and packaging costs as there would only be 1 disc to pack per retail unit instead of 2, 3 or more.
What are your thoughts? Sound off in the comments.