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Why Aren’t Digital Games Cheaper Than Physical Ones?

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Follow these suggestions to understand why digital games aren't cheaper than physical ones.

  • Digital Games Are Cost-saving
  • Digital Games Are Priced for Retail Parity
  • Digital Games Have Hidden Costs
  • Digital Games Benefit From Dynamic Sales

Digital Games Are Cost-saving

One of the benefits of digital games advertised in the early days was cost-saving.

After all, it costs money to put a packaged game on store shelves. Manufacturing and transportation are all factored into the ultimate amount you paid. As a result, it's only natural to assume that those cost savings will be passed on to gamers.


For a digital copy of a game, you may expect to pay the same price as you would in a physical store. A game may even be cheaper in-store during launch. Retailers reduce their profit margin to lure people and sell a few other goods besides the hot new game.

Digital Games Are Priced for Retail Parity

The main reason you pay the same for a digital edition as you do for a physical version is the same physical stores. For the time being, stores are an essential part of the video game. If Sony and Nintendo's stores undercut merchants by a significant margin, those retailers may not offer physical games. They may cease putting similar things on their shelves, such as gaming consoles.


Apart from the need to keep retailers pleased, there isn't much incentive to lower pricing. After all, digital games are more profitable when the platform owner can pocket money that would have gone to the retail supply chain.

Digital Games Have Hidden Costs

When you buy a physical game disc, the platform provider receives no compensation for it. New digital games help to support the maintenance of older games that aren't selling as well. If you want indefinite access to your digital games, you'll have to pay for the system to make it happen.


Of course, there are some more options. You can download a DRM-free copy of each digital game you buy from Good Old Games. Users can save an offline backup on Steam, albeit you must unlock it with an online check. 

Physical games, too, require this infrastructure in today's world to allow for patches. However, these upgrades are optional in most situations. Serving full games as a first-line sales channel still represents a lower cost.

Digital Games Benefit From Dynamic Sales

Although digital games may have regular retail costs, they benefit from early reductions. Developers and platform owners benefit from digital games' instant and thorough sales data. They can identify market saturation and respond to a title sales reduction. 

While the initial asking price may be the same, it's doubtful that you'll pay the total cost. On the other hand, physical games have clearance sales.

These are a few explanations to help you understand why digital games aren’t cheaper than physical ones. In the end, players will pay whatever amount they are prepared to pay for digital games. The only way to change this is to avoid purchasing games when they are more expensive than you expect. If a sufficient number of players do so, pricing will have no choice but to change.

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