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Why you should collect physical media like it’s 1999.


Between Netflix, Steam, and Spotify, why should anyone collect physical media anymore?

Well, there’s a lot of reasons why you should, actually.

Every year, streaming services and digital distribution storefronts get bigger and better. For starters, a ~$10 monthly subscription can get you access to all the TV and movies you’d ever want these days. Plus, you can get any song or video game you desire without needing to leave the house! How convenient is that!? In truth, while digital distribution is super convenient in a lot of ways, you might want to think twice before tossing your physical collection altogether.

Below are 5 reasons why you might want to reconsider going all digital all the time.



1: You can share with friends.


In 2013, when the PlayStation 4 was still on the horizon, gamers were getting increasingly worried. After Microsoft seemed to be cutting the possibility of ever buying or reselling used games with the Xbox One, gamers wondered if Sony would kill any possibility of sharing games too. To calm these fears, Sony showed the cheeky video featured above at E3.

This may be a funny piece of gaming trivia, but it illustrates why physical media is so important. If you own a DVD, CD, cartridge, etc., you can share it with family and friends as much as you’d like. Even if you can technically share digital content or subscriptions, those always come with their own specific stipulations. With physical media, as long as you consent to let someone borrow it, no one’s going to stop you.



2: You’re not tied to an internet connection.


Internet

As great as streaming is, you know what isn’t great? Having to wait for your video to buffer because you’re on a weak internet connection.

While services like Netflix do offer ways to download movies and shows for offline viewing, these too come with specific stipulations. If you collect physical media, you can completely bypass this issue. Besides, if you download all your movies and TV shows, you’re going to eat up your storage space on your device before you know it.



3: You’re directly supporting the creators.


Money

On one hand, streaming services have been great for a lot of independent or underdog creators. Sequels to cult classics like Arrested Development and Wet Hot American Summer would probably never exist were it not for Netflix’s decision to fund them. On the other hand, if you really want to support your favorite creators, you should consider buying their products outright.

It’s hard to paint a specific picture of how much the original creators make via streaming services. Yet the numbers we do have appear to be pretty damning. Musicians make less than two cents per play of their songs on streaming services, and that’s one of the more generous examples. Even platforms like Steam take sizable cuts from each video game sale. Sure, we can’t tell you how much you’ll support creators by buying as directly from them as possible. But given what we know, we’d say they’d be grateful.



4: You get some cool extras.


Binding of Isaac Instruction Manual

You know what the best part of collecting vinyl is? Some may say the music, but I’d say the gorgeous cover art.

That’s just one example of the extra perks you can get when buying physical media. There are also awesome bonuses like the Legend of Zelda style instruction manual included with the Nintendo Switch version of The Binding of Isaac (pictured above). And heck, who could forget about the hours of special features included on the Lord of the Rings special edition DVDs? When you collect physical media, you get more than the movie, game, or song you paid for. Even if it’s not a lot more, you’ll be happy to have it anyway.



5: It’s yours to keep forever.


CDs

Even the biggest, most secure digital distribution platform isn’t guaranteed to last.

Look, we’re not saying that Hulu or Steam is shutting down anytime soon. But hey, times change, and who knows what might happen to your digital content in the future. Just recently, the servers for the Nintendo Wii’s online storefront shut down, and with that went all of its exclusive titles. In other words, if you ever wanted to play games like Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: My Life as a King or Contra: Rebirth, you’re out of luck. Maybe you downloaded the games you wanted before the servers went down, but even then, what happens if your hard drive fails or the game data gets corrupted? That product you paid money for will be gone without any recompense.

Physical media can get damaged or destroyed too. But at least in that scenario, it’s possibly your fault that your stuff is ruined. If you want the best odds of actually keeping your media in the long run, then you want to collect physical.

Besides, in a world where cheap comic books can become million dollar heirlooms, who wouldn’t want to see if their media someday becomes super valuable? The chances of that are unlikely, but hey, unlikely is a heck of a lot better than impossible.

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Written by TimM
Tim is a video game aficionado who is fascinated by pop culture. He built his first collection in 1999 by catching all 151 monsters in Pokemon Red, and he hasn't stopped collecting since. His work has been featured multiple times on Destructoid.com.