Why is the Gaming Industry Still Using Optical Media?

JDisturbed asks:

Why is the gaming industry still using optical media? With the current speeds and storage space of Flash drives and Flash media, why isn’t the industry getting back into cartridge-based gaming? With Flash media reaching storage capacities of 256 GB, and a read speed currently at 120 MB/s, one can only imagine the scale of games that could be created. It could potentially be a huge leap forward in gaming.

The only reasoning I can come up with is that the cost to stamp out a DVD/Blu-ray is much less than that of manufacturing a card/stick/cartridge/whatever. I would think if your console was that far ahead of your competitors, then the consumer wouldn’t mind paying an extra $10-$20 per game. I know I would pay it.

Just curious about what your thoughts on this may be…

Why is the Gaming Industry Still Using Optical Media?

Well, Sony and Nintendo have handhelds that utilize Flash media, and even that’s new for Sony. Sony was using UMDs, a small optical disc, for its PSP up until the Vita came out, but Nintendo had low graphic content contained on its Flash drives, and this is why nobody ever questioned if it could be done.

Think about it, though: optical discs are far cheaper to produce if you’re going to push content out. The average Vita download for a retail game like Uncharted or Assassin’s Creed is well over three gigs. Sony makes you pay for the storage (a 32 gigabyte storage SD will run you about $100), plus you pay for the game if you download it from the PSN. If you just buy its pre-loaded cartridges, it still runs you maybe 10 dollars cheaper than a PS3 or Xbox game would. Why? Because it comes down to space and production costs. Optics are cheaper, but they come at a cost to handheld speed and quality; while Sony realized this, it’s taking heavy losses monetarily.

Back in the day of Nintendo and Sega, the games were far less heavy-handed with the space and you were shocked if you saw something that even took up as much storage space as an MP3 would. Mass producing those cartridges was cheap! Check out that copy of Ninja Gaiden of mine in that picture. I want you to think about how much internal drive space that takes up. Go ahead, I’ll give you a minute. Ready? 136 kilobytes. That’s it. Just that. Can you even believe it? Our games are heavier now and could never be cheaply mass produced by that method anymore. Optics are always going to be less expensive, sadly, until gaming companies can sit still and not keep trying to outdo themselves with graphics and quality and let technology catch up. Otherwise, we’re going to keep hitting these walls.

What do you guys think? Should we give it a go with our bigger consoles? It’s costly, but is it worth it? Sound off below!

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Chris has consistently expressed his convictions and visions outright, supplying practical information to targeted audiences: media agencies, business owners, technology consumers, software and hardware professionals, et al. He remains a passionate personality in the tech community-at-large. He's a geek.

  • Fox Mulder

    I think it will eventually happen. Neo Geo sold a $600 game console with $200 to $400 games at one time…