My relationship with physical media soured last year. I finally realized that there was no reason for me to own a lot of movies and games, especially considering how rarely I return to rewatch and replay them. I sold and traded in a bunch of games and sold a bunch of Blu-rays and DVDs on eBay. I’ve only bought a handful of games since then, and just a couple movies that I probably should have just rented instead. Lego Dimensions aside, I’ve been doing a pretty good job of limiting the physical products I’ve brought into my apartment over the past year.
It’s not enough.
Planning a move across the country for the second time in a year has me wanting to own nothing. I know it’s not realistic to say I’m going to get rid of all of my movies and games, but the thought of packing them in boxes, loading boxes into shipping containers and reversing everything on the other side is overwhelming in the worst way. It’s reached a point at which I’m feeling suffocated by the things I own. Maybe it is time to cut ties with them. Or at least all but the most essential.
Even then, I’m not convinced I actually need to own things anymore.
We’re talking about a sizable collection here—a couple hundred games and maybe twice as many movies. It’s largely made up of unplayed games and unwatched movies, though only a few of each remain in their plastic wrap. The ones I have played or watched are unlikely to see any additional action. The ones I haven’t may remain that way forever. I’d feel overwhelmed by them no matter what, but the ever-increasing independence between media and physical objects makes it all the more appealing.
Games are a little complicated here thanks to console manufacturers’ hands being tied on digital pricing thanks to retail partners’ fears about their place in the digital future. I’d have to rebuy them, often at higher prices than I paid for the physical versions, so they’re probably not going anywhere. Movies don’t have those problems, though.
If I sell another chunk of my Blu-ray collection, I’m not saying goodbye to the content that’s on them. Many of these movies are available on Netflix, and the rest are easily found on digital store fronts for purchase or rental, so it’s still entirely possible to watch them if the desire ever strikes me. I could even digitize them and put them on a Plex server, but that’s about 1000 times more work than I care to do. Regardless, getting rid of the discs changes almost nothing about my ability to watch the content on them.
And it all comes down to a simple question: Is my life any better for owning these movies on Blu-ray? That answer is almost always ‘no.’ Or maybe it’s always ‘no,’ as even my favorite movies tend to just sit on shelves as I watch new movies or keep a constant stream of sitcoms flowing into my life through Netflix.
Digital is the future, whether we’re talking owning or streaming. It’s inevitable, as reluctant as some companies may be to face it. It’s largely here now. I’ve talked about making the shift before, but the thought of dealing with all of these discs for this move and the inevitable move to a hopefully more permanent place in another year or two has me ready to take the plunge. Whether I can actually get there remains to be seen, but I’m hopeful that I can clear up a lot of space in my life—which everything I know about New York City real estate tells me needs to happen.
What are your feelings on physical media? Do you still buy movies and games physically? Or have you moved on to the freeing nature of digital? Let me know in the comments.