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Up For Debate - Are you playing fewer games because downloads are so huge?
By Neil Soutter on January 1st, 2020 at 10:12am - original article from game-debate

The massively increased size of game downloads these days has also opened up another one of those crackpot theories that’s always done the rounds but is rarely backed up by anything more than circumstantial evidence - that of the Battle for Storage Space.

This is probably an issue which is focused predominantly on console users rather than PC gamers, especially when we consider the number of PS4 or Xbox one owners who upgrade their hard drives is likely minuscule in the extreme. If you buy a console you’ve probably got either 500GB or 1TB of storage. There will also be PC users with limited storage space, particularly on SSDs, and only having total SSD storage of 500GB to 1TB isn’t unusually.

¬¬g_id:6039[Call of Duty: Modern Warfare]¬¬ alone is a 125GB+ download and growing, and each subsequent patch seems to require you have 65GB free, even if the patch itself is tiny. That’s getting on for damn near half the entire storage on a PS4 Slim which is monopolised by a single game. That is a lot and it really doesn’t leave much room for other games, particularly if you’ve got a giant such as ¬¬g_id:9339[Red Dead Redemption 2]¬¬ on there with it. 

Suddenly, you’re playing (and paying for) the games which are literally on your PS4. And, if you play these games semi-regularly, you aren’t going to want to delete them to make space for another, not knowing a 125GB download awaits should you want to play it again. That’s where we end up in conundrums such as - ‘ should I download ¬¬g_id:35645[Control]¬¬? But that will mean deleting ¬¬g_id:1308[GTA 5]¬¬, and there is that new Heist coming out soon, me and the mates are bound to want to play it.’ These are the sort of mental gymnastics which have to come into play when we can only fit a handful of AAA games on our systems at any one time.

Around about here, the theory starts to sound a whole lot less crackpot. It’s still a bit of a leap to go from here to ‘publishers are artificially inflating game sizes to monopolise your HDD space’ but it’s not wildly out of reach. As to whether they’d do it, that’s questionable, but there probably is indeed a net benefit to doing exactly this, aside from scaring away folks worried about that initial download.

I’ve even heard folks suggest that the size of patch downloads are perhaps ‘enhanced’ so it makes it look as if the development has been doing more work. I’m pretty sure the dev teams, with their dried up husks they call eyeballs, and caffeinated beverages slowly pooling out of their overflowing ears, have been doing plenty of crunching without having to justify it with falsified update sizes.

Who knows though, there are people out there who believe this. I’ve talked to them, they’re as real as your or I, and who I am to say what they believe is categorically wrong. It’s just another step onward from making the games have a huge install footprint in the first place, inching deeper down the conspiracy theory rabbit hole. Come down, this way madness lies, along with the throng of alt-right streamers gaming YouTube’s algorithms to hook in young men by massaging their fragile egos with expert precision. We all float down here.

Right, where was I. Yes, install sizes, are they a genuine problem for you and are you having to pick and choose which games you install? Do the bigger games get priority because they're huge downloads? And lastly, do you suspect games are purposefully large to monopolise your storage space? 

Get voting and be sure to let us know why below!