Community Soapbox: Should game companies use Blu-ray discs for PC game installation media?

Blu-Ray Drive

By on January 18, 2013 at 8:16 pm

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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).

My opinion

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.

51 comments (Leave your own)

Blu-ray sounds like a good idea, though I haven’t physically purchased a PC game in 4 years.

 

Eh. It doesn’t really matter.
Optical discs are really only used to install the game, then forgotten about.
Once you have the game installed it’s usually tied to a game distribution platform such as Steam, Origin, uPlay etc’.

From there you can download it again as many times as you want.

However, I do have a Blu-ray drive, never used a blu-ray in it, but if Developers rather span a game over Multiple DVD’s then sure, if they can save some money and lower the price of the games. (Not going to happen!)

Otherwise, Bring on the Blu Ray so that their price gauging can be for a bloody good reason.

 

hellboy1975:
I haven’t physically purchased a PC game in 4 years.

^this

But no they shouldn’t I hate blu-ray it’s painfully slow

 

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.

a very hard sell.

blu ray drives are not at all common in PCs, and have no reason to be. there is little drive for PCs to support them, unlike DVDs back when they were starting to be released. not everyone has the technical ability to install a drive, I don’t think you have a good grasp of the gaming population at large.

it would also be a short term measure for the majority of the gaming population. soon it will be likely that all distribution will be digital. speeds are increasing every 18 months, and AFAIK caps are following that trend. then you have cases where the ISPs cache the material themselves, like iinet group does with steam, eliminating the need for large caps.

looking into the future it just seems like a move to solid state memory for physical distribution will be better (alongside digital distribution). buy a game and receive a USB stick, or SD card, or whatever, with the game on there. the capacity is ever increasing in that form factor, and isn’t subject to the same amount of wear.

using blu ray for games distribution seems like such a short-term solution I doubt it’s economically viable.

 

I’m going with no. Broadband is only getting faster and the number of people without access to it is continually decreasing. Physical distribution networks are very expensive, they are probably adding $5 onto the cost of every game you buy, even digitally. The sooner they die, the sooner a company can start reducing prices, or making more profit which allows them to take risks on other games.

 

It’d be about friggin’ time.

hellboy1975: though I haven’t physically purchased a PC game in 4 years.

Must be nice to live in Fantasytown, but the mean Aussie Internet connection speed as at Q4 2012 was 4.4Mbps. There are many more people with <4.4Mbps connections than those with faster connections. Consider if you will those poor souls such as myself who are stuck with less than half that, and most of them won't see anything better for 10 years.

spooler: But no they shouldn’t I hate blu-ray it’s painfully slow

Of course Blu-Ray is painfully slow (in terms of local storage, at least). But compared to DVD, Blu-Ray has three times higher sustained transfer rate (which is what matters most when installing a game) at 36Mbps. Check your facts ;)

Physical media will be around for just a little bit longer yet.

 

My disc drive is only used to install windows.

 

I have a bluray drive in my PC and think the technology is cheap enough to warrant an upgrade to blurays for games that use more than two DVDs, for example Shogun 2 total war is one game I am no way going to download anytime soon and with it being spanned across 3 DVDs a single disc would be preferred.

 

Same argument I used for the DVD changeover still applies from back when you could buy the CD or DVD editions of games. If at this point in time your computer is good enough to run new release games, you will have a Blu-ray drive, they have been standard in pre-built systems for over 3 years, if you built it yourself and didn’t upgrade, it’s dirt cheap and easy enough to do it.

However having said that, I don’t really see much future in physical media, Digital Distribution is HUGE at the moment, it is fast, easy, and so far, reliable. If the rumours are true even the consoles are going digital distro next generation so publishers can cut out several middlemen in the distribution chain, and negate the ability to sell pre-owned titles, which will net them more profits. (not saying that as consumers we will see any of that extra money though)

 

BluRay is just another doomed media… I haven’t had a DVD drive in my PC for at least 5 years.

BD failed as a replacement for DVD due to the very simple fact that the quality wasn’t significantly better than up scaled DVD for the masses to buy into the hype. Nobody was going to re-buy all of their movies again on BDROM for a minor upgrade in pixel density which to the untrained eye looked like film grain.

BluRay has come too late for the games industry to use it as a sales pitch. Broadband has already filled in that hole that BDROM is to fill. No room at the inn so to speak.

I just bought a 3TB external HDD for $123 from JBHifi… why would I want another optical storage system when everything is a click of a button away at that price?

 

Forget Optical Media, I want to see USB Drives.

 

I agree. There’s no reason they can’t start producing titles in Blu-ray and DVD format. I remember when buying BF2 years ago you had the choice of CD or DVD versions. It will happen eventually but like all things change is driven by cost. If Blu-ray was so cheap to produce they would be using it already. Look at the cost of Blu-ray movies to DVD movies. Obliviously the cost of production for Blu-ray media is still considered too high by the publishing companies. In saying that I think the last time a purchased a physical copy of any game was 2008. Digital download for everything ever since. And with the NBN type projects getting gradually getting rolled out around the world it makes the production cost of physical media even less cost effective to publishers.

 

hellboy1975:
Blu-ray sounds like a good idea, though I haven’t physically purchased a PC game in 4 years.

Indeed. Does anyone actually still buy boxed PC games these days? Especially in this country of artificial price fixing by these greedy retailers. Heck I can do one better; I can’t even remember the last time I opened/needed my Bluray Drive.

Why pay 80-100 price gouged bucks at a store/wait 2 or 3 weeks shipping for an import; when I can buy a digital key for a fraction of that cost and be downloading and playing within hours.
Digital Distribution is, and has been the way to go for years now.

 

Hello there Mearehear, and thanks for sharing your time with us to answer a few questions.Firstly please tell us, does your current PC system have a Bluray drive?
No imaginary interview person, I don’t have a Bluray drive in my PC, nor does anyone I know at this time (in the “real” world).

But Mearehear, do you plan to get a Bluray drive?
..Nope, I’m afraid I don’t see myself getting one anytime soon

..And why would that be Mearehear?
Cause Internets..

Cause “internets”? Hmm, I see. Well I take it by that somewhat tongue in cheek answer you are actually referring to digital distribution services?”
You win some Internets, well done imaginary Sir!

So what is it exactly then Mearehear that doesn’t appeal enough to you to install a Bluray drive
The Floppy disk!

The Floppy disk is why you won’t use a Bluray drive?
You are correct again Sir, have some more Internets! Now let me ask you a question in turn. Do you still have a Floppy Disk drive in your PC?

Well no I don’t Mearehear. Not for quite some years now
But your PC still uses megabytes and gigabytes correct?

Chuckles! Well yes, last time I checked all the mb’s and gb’s were still in place in my PC, you may even find a few terabytes.I take it from that line of question you are inferring that physical media has a “used by date” whereas digital distribution will always be relevant
It’s like it’s Christmas, I am giving you so many Internets! Yes, you are correct. So long as we have am adequate internet system that accommodates those needs, which I believe we have now reached.

Well on that note, thanks for your time Mearehear, and for your somewhat vague, but relevant, answers.
I like turtles

Chuckles! Yes I am sure you do! …..
……..

 

Another issue with using Blu Ray for games is that standard PS3 blu ray drives read the disc about 40% slower than a DVD, which effects read data & performance of the games.

For the most part though, I just cant see any point in using BR discs. Every gaming entity out there is already moving to an online delivery system for games as it is.

 

As I noted in the article, most retail PC games are also released on PS3 which uses Blu-ray as the standard disc format. This means it would be easy to factor in PC retail units when making orders for Blu-ray discs as they can be combined with PS3 retail units.

 

i’m more for getting rid of CD’s altogether and moving forward with usb drives or somthing similar there are 64gb ones now?

 

I have a BR player in the PC.
I buy most of my favourite shows in BR because they look so much better but I don’t expect it to be wide spread enough to be used for games

 

adambjjoz:
Another issue with using Blu Ray for games is that standard PS3 blu ray drives read the disc about 40% slower than a DVD, which effects read data & performance of the games.

that was only on release. that’s no longer an issue, and as someone else has pointed out, they actually read faster than a DVD now.

PalZer0:
As I noted in the article, most retail PC games are also released on PS3 which uses Blu-ray as the standard disc format. This means it would be easy to factor in PC retail units when making orders for Blu-ray discs as they can be combined with PS3 retail units.

I don’t know about easy. you would need a lot more BD infrastructure to get the orders done, and as has been pointed out, BD is likely a short term solution. why invest in something that’s likely to be superseded by digital/solid state in a short amount of time?

and that’s not even the biggest issue. people just won’t go out and buy a BD player for their PC.

mercinarie:
i’m more for getting rid of CD’s altogether and moving forward with usb drives or somthing similar there are 64gb ones now?

yeah, they are getting ridiculously large. even the microsd cards are getting huge. problem with the higher capacity ones is cost. however, I can see a time where supplying solid state storage is cheaper than optical.

 

Unfortunately, PalZer0 , you missed the all important history of new technology adoption which would have aided in your point. I am talking floppy to CD; CD to DVD; and the failed attempts in between.

:)…

 
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