If you’re in the market for a gaming PC, you may have noticed that moderns PCs don’t have optical drives.
That means you won’t be able to play CDs or DVDs on your system.
While you may never need to play media via CDs or DVDs, you may wonder if you need an optical drive for gaming.
Read on to see if having an optical drive on your gaming PC is necessary and in what cases you’ll need one.
Do You Need An Optical Drive For Gaming?
For most games today, you will not need an optical drive because you can play almost all your games by downloading digital copies or streaming.
You only need an optical drive if you prefer to play old games that don’t have a digital copy.
However, you may benefit from having one in some cases.
Here are the most important ones:
- You prefer to play old games that don’t have a digital copy.
- You like to have a tangible collection of games, both modern and vintage.
- You have ample physical storage and don’t mind the discs occupying space.
- You play on consoles because it’s easier to get physical games from friends and family.
- You have a slow internet connection that doesn’t allow you to stream games or download them conveniently.
Reasons For Using Optical Drives In Gaming
1. Old Games
Unless you’re playing an old game, you can get a soft copy of all modern games by purchasing them from Steam, Origin, GOG, or other services.
By old games, we mostly mean those developed before 2010 or when older operating systems, such as Windows XP or Vista, were in use.
Most of these games don’t have a digital version on Steam and other services, and you need to use their physical copies.
Even if your gaming rig doesn’t come with an optical drive, you could still use an external one.
Most gamers nowadays prefer to have a soft copy of their games because they take up less space and are easier to manage.
Another reason for leaning toward the physical copy of games is that you prefer to have a tangible product when you purchase something.
However, you may prefer to have a hard copy of the game for different reasons, including the following:
Although you may find different prices at different stores, physical games are more likely to be cheaper than digital games.
When a new game is released, the digital and physical copies cost the same.
However, after a few months, you can find the physical copies at a much lower price.
If you can get your hands on a good-quality second-hand physical game, you can purchase it at even a lower price.
This way, you can save a lot by purchasing all your games second-hand.
3. Permanent Ownership
Although purchasing the digital copy of a game may be easier, involving a few clips and downloading it to your hard drives, it doesn’t guarantee that you can have permanent ownership of that game.
This ownership is essentially renting the game’s license, which the company can revoke at any time they choose.
If they remove the game from online stores or the game’s digital stores close permanently, there’s nothing you can do about it.
If you’ve deleted the game from your library and it got delisted from the store, you can never download it again, despite already purchasing the license.
What’s more, if your accounts get hacked, you may lose everything you have on your account, including your purchased games.
If you have the physical version of the game, you can play it on your console after revoking your account.
4. Making Money
If you have a physical copy of a game that you don’t want to play, there’s no point in keeping it around collecting dust.
You can resell it and make money, which is not currently possible with digital games.
If you have a physical copy of a rare and old game, you can even sell it at a much higher price.
You may think that old games aren’t valuable enough because they may need older platforms to play.
However, many people want these games not to play them but to keep them as part of their valuable collections.
Even if you don’t want to make money from your physical game collection, you can share them with your friends and family and even swap them for better ones.
Although you can do the same with digital games, you may not be able to trust everyone because it requires sharing your account’s credentials.
Plus, you don’t need to have a working copy of the game for some game titles to make money.
They’re so valuable for their nostalgic properties that many people would be willing to pay money to have them.
5. Extra Perks
Purchasing the physical copy of a game comes with some perks that you may not pay attention to at first.
For example, you won’t need to worry about the internet speed when you want to download it.
Right after purchasing the game, you can play it.
In addition, most games come with merch or goodies that may include stickers, game maps, collectible art books, etc.
These goodies and games can be great items to show off your collections and become great conversation pieces at parties and gatherings.
Another perk is that you can give the game to your friends as a gift if they prefer tangible and physical things.
While you could send someone the game’s download code as a gift, it certainly feels better.
Why Aren’t Optical Drives Popular Today?
Optical drives are becoming obsolete parts of computer systems.
Most of the computers we purchase these days don’t even have an optical drive.
In the past, optical discs were precious storage tools that were more than enough for most of our computing needs.
In addition, some software programs needed a small disc to be inserted to install and run in the first place.
Optical discs are going out of style because of the general trend in the digital world: storage space is getting bigger and physical space is getting smaller.
That’s why everyone is looking for ultra-slim and lightweight laptops and cellphones with ever bigger storage space.
Suppose you want to back up all the contents of your PC.
You would need hundreds of DVDs to accommodate that amount of data.
The optical drives on older computers and laptops can’t satisfy the customers’ ever-growing needs for more and more space at a lower cost.
As a result, computer manufacturers decided to do away with their drives when they don’t use these storage options.
This trend is also present in the entertainment industry.
With more storage options available, users moved away from physical media and stopped using MP3 players, CDs, or DVDs to play music or films.
In addition, optical drives increase the size of laptops and reduce battery life because they have a high power consumption.
In fact, one of the factors that enabled laptop manufacturers to reduce their laptop size and weight was the removal of the CD/DVD drives.
Plus, some designers believe that adding optical drives can negatively affect the computers’ overall looks and aesthetics, preventing you from getting a sleek look on the front panel.
The only cases where you must have an optical drive in your computer are when you need to rip music for other music-playing devices that can’t stream music or burn CDs for rare purposes.
These are the general reasons people don’t use optical drives and disks anymore.
While the same principles apply in the gaming world, other reasons make digital games more popular.
Why Digital Games Are More Popular
Having an optical hard drive isn’t necessary as you can get most games online and in the shape of digital copies.
Most of the computers you purchase today don’t come with optical drives, which shows they are not as popular as they used to be.
Here are some reasons why:
1. Downloading Content
You can download just about anything without requiring physical copies of the software or media.
Even operating systems are downloadable, and you can install them using a USB drive.
You can purchase your games from many legitimate websites and services without worrying about licensing issues.
In addition, you can have the downloaded file as soon as you pay for it (provided you have a fast internet connection), and you don’t need to wait for the physical disk to arrive after a few days (if you choose not to go to a physical store).
Even if you go to a physical store, it’s not as convenient as purchasing your games online.
Downloading games also means you can have hundreds of titles on a small hard drive, while physical games can take up lots of real estate.
2. Environmental Impact
If you care about the environment, you’ll certainly consider the impact of physical games on the environment.
Not only do they take up lots of physical space, but they also consume physical resources.
Unlike ordering other goods online, which can have many environmental costs like logistics and shipping burdens, downloading games has minimal consequences for the environment (considering the servers or game developers aren’t 100% carbon neutral).
All you need is digital storage space to save your files.
If you want to buy a physical game, you need to find a store that has it in stock.
You may also be able to order it online, but it involves searching for the game on different platforms.
This isn’t an issue with digital titles because they’re always in stock.
Most digital stores and platforms have just about any title you want, even the most obscure ones, and you can download them from the convenience of your home.
Although, as mentioned above, it may take a long time to download the game, you can pre-download the game by pre-ordering or leaving it for download overnight.
As we mentioned about the permanent ownership with physical copies, if a company decides to delist its games, you will lose access to your digital games.
However, that is not the case with physical games.
That said, you have permanent ownership of the physical game in most cases as long as you don’t want to play it.
Most games come with updates that add extra features or erase bugs from the game.
If you don’t get these updates, you can’t play the game.
As a result, you can’t use the game if they remove it from digital platforms.
In addition, physical games are subject to damage and getting lost or stolen, which means both of them are vulnerable and can’t offer absolute, permanent ownership.
The materials these discs are made of can deteriorate with long-term exposure to light.
They’re also subject to oxidation, ultraviolet light damage, and even reactions between the disc’s layers, making them have a limited shelf life.
That’s why you may see that your CD or DVDs don’t work after several years although you’ve stored them in a perfect place.
As mentioned above, some gamers may prefer hard copies of games because they are cheaper.
However, the competition between digital and physical games’ prices may be a draw, meaning you can also buy digital games at lower prices.
Most online stores offer significant discounts for their games because they do not have physical places to pay rent or other bills.
Therefore, they can afford to sell their products at lower prices.
Another great advantage of digital games over physical versions is that they are highly portable.
If you want to play a game in a place other than your home, you do not need to worry about carrying your games.
Since all your games are stored in your console, all you need to take with you is the console.
However, physical games require discs or big cartridges that are difficult to carry around.
Although some games like the Nintendo Switch use small, portable cartridges, they can’t beat the portability of digital games.
7. Streaming Games
With the decreasing popularity of physical games, streaming services for games are on the rise.
You can play them over the Internet via browsers (Amazon Luna and Stadia) or a dedicated app (PlayStation Now and GeForce Now).
These services are a less expensive alternative to gaming consoles and PCs, which have the significant processing power required for gaming.
These game streaming services allow you to leverage their significant gaming power for a monthly fee.
You’ll play the game on your PC or smartphone, but it would be as if you had an advanced console or gaming PC.
You can access the hardware, which is on the service’s servers, no matter where you are.
You practically play on another PC’s hardware and receive a live game feed.
With these services, you don’t even need to worry about running out of storage, which might be an issue with downloaded digital games.
All of your purchased games are on their servers, and you can access them from any device.
These features have led some people to believe that game streaming is the future of gaming.
The only caveat is that you need a high-speed internet connection.
Otherwise, you won’t be able to play the game consistently, and you’ll experience lags and glitches.
In addition, even with the fastest connections, you may not have a pleasant gaming experience for multiplayer shooting games since even millisecond lags can make a difference.
However, the advantages of streaming gaming services far outweigh their disadvantages, making them one of the reasons that optical drives aren’t necessary for gaming.
All you need is a gamepad, which can be different depending on the service.
For example, you can use Bluetooth gamepads for Amazon Luna in addition to its dedicated controller.
Stadia supports a wide range of controllers, including the Google Stadia controller, the Xbox Wireless controller, and the Sony DualShock 4.
Another great advantage of these streaming services is that you don’t even need a PC or laptop to play your games.
Most of these services have Android or iOS apps that allow you to play any game on your smartphone.
Although the experience may not be the same, it’s a great way to overcome certain limitations, such as not having a PC.
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