Thursday, July 5, 2012
Is an all digital future really inevitable? What about cartridges?
You see back in my day during the golden age of gaming, we had this thing called a cartridge which evolved over time. It evolved into the memory card we used for save data when discs had the superior storage and what has it evolved into today? Well you see that thing sticking out of your PC that you plug in to save your resume? That USB drive is a cartridge! Yes, it is? Do you like that thing? I do! See that should be our future long before the cloud and work with digital distribution.
See MovieBob aka The Game Overthinker in one of my favourite episodes Putting The Cart Before The Cloud gives a fair few good reasons for it and I may repeat a few myself but it shows you that Bob's a smart cookie. He goes into the history of the cartridge and a few good points on how it could be tackled.
See I feel like a return to cartridges and even cartridge based consoles that aren't portable are a fantastic idea! The new console would be cheaper to make and the cartridge can store the game data, save data and DLC when available as well as lazy patching because game developers are now too lazy to finish and test there games before release. Well since you can get SD cards and flash drives in up to 32GB of storage and the average games is 8-10GB it's plausible to do so and Nintendo would love to have the control of chips once again.
Why should games return to cartridges? Well for one is loading times! HDD saved games take a while and disc games take a while to find the data and rarely load in the background. Then there's durability, my nephew has demolished EVERY Wii game he owns and they only work thanks to all the dirt and saliva stuck to the disc and it breaks my heart. Then there's the fact of storage space... on the shelf or in draws, I like being able to store a lot more games on a shelf and be able to find them without sifting through 100's of disc boxes double backed and stacked on their sides. Then there's the obvious... anti piracy! Seriously it will take more effort to pirate a proprietary cartridge then to rip a disc and toy with the files.
Now as for the design for the cartridges the game companies aren't strangers since they've all made memory cards so it shouldn't be a problem to make proprietary carts and they can make then as small as they want. The console they use it on, hell they can do it with what we've already. All the current console support USB drives and/or SD card slots and hell why not allow us to download directly to the USB drives and run it from there instead of the HDD in the console? Sure they can up to a point but not in the way that would actually benefit the user.
Could you imagine what a console made just for carts in the modern era would look like? I'd guess like Wii's with different logos or maybe Gamecube's since they need room for CPUs and graphics processors and what not. I just like the idea of them being affordable... and there's the problem right there! The companies don't like you saving money.
Look, I admit I want the carts back due to usability and to not have a heart attack when I buy a game and it's scratched before money changes hands(Since GAME Australia is dead and was the only game retailer that sold new games in shrink wrap even if you didn't preorder it). I think the return to carts before the Cloud comes and swallows up all ownership and the idiot masses embrace it is the best solution.