In 2022, there are many ways that gamers can enjoy their favorite content. For those that prefer AAA blockbusters like Grand Theft Auto and FIFA, there are more ways to get access to your favorite titles. There’s the traditional route of visiting a store and handing over a wad of cash in exchange for a disc to insert into your console or computer, but you can also just type in your credit card details into a platform like Steam or the PlayStation Store and start downloading your new game.

It’s not just AAA titles, either. Those that enjoy playing casino games have a whole host of different sites and apps they can choose from, and can even use the lists of online casino bonuses compiled by sites like OddsChecker. Similarly, fans of casual games can simply load up their smartphone and instantly download hundreds of thousands of different titles.

That traditional route for video game distribution may be at risk of going extinct and more and more gamers opt for the digital option. Of course, there are some players who still prefer to own the physical disc either because they love to show it off in their collection, they want to be able to resell it, or because they’re worried that they may lose access to the content in the future.

However, these gamers are swimming against the tide and the current is very strong. The move to digital distribution is nearly complete, and it won’t be long before you won’t be able to buy physical discs ever again. Here are the main driving forces behind that.

The Disc Drive’s Days Are Numbers

Think back to the 1990s, and almost every computer came with a floppy drive and a CD tray. By the late 2000s, the floppy was gone, as it could no longer store enough data and took up too much space in machines.

CD drives were given a reprieve because they were combined with DVDs and then Blu-rays, but they too are on their way to retirement now.

Most laptops don’t come with an optical drive at all, and many desktops also lack any sort of tray or slot for these shiny doughnuts. The latest set of game consoles may also be the last to contain them, as both Microsoft and Sony have created cheaper versions of their machines that don’t contain a disc drive either.

Digital Distribution is Cheaper

It costs a lot of money to press a disc, burn it with a laser, print a label on top, produce a booklet, and packs it into a plastic case.

But the manufacturing element isn’t even the end as these cases then need to be placed into boxes, combined onto pallets, loaded into the back of a truck, and driven across the country or even shipped or flown to another part of the world. Once arriving at the other end, they need to be unpacked, counted, sorted, and then laid out on a shelf.

At every stage, wages, overheads, and fuel need to be paid for. Each separate business involved in this supply chain also needs to make a profit, eating into the profit margin of the publisher.

Digital distribution involves fewer (or even no) middlemen that need to take a cut. It involves no physical manufacturing or transport, removing some of the most expensive elements from the process.

Therefore, gaming companies are heavily incentivized to ditch discs in favor of digital distribution.

Gaming is Becoming Decentralized

In the past, you played games on one particular piece of hardware; if you had a PC game, it would only run on certain computers. Similarly, if you had a PlayStation 2, you couldn’t stick a disc into a GameCube or Xbox or vice versa.

Today, however, there is a concerted effort to free gamers from the shackles of their hardware and allow them to enjoy their favorite titles on whatever machine they choose.

Services like Xbox Cloud Gaming allow players to buy a game from its digital catalog and then download or stream it to multiple devices, including an Xbox console and a PC. Google Stadia does something similar, supporting computers, smart TVs, and some smartphones.

With this model, not only will there be no discs, but you may not even need to buy an expensive machine to enjoy your favorite AAA titles since the services offload the number crunching to the cloud.

For all these reasons, discs will soon become just another gaming relic. They’ll take an important place in the history books, alongside floppies, cartridges, and proprietary memory cards.