How I feel whenever I open my Steam library… #pileofshame

My gaming PC is outfitted with a 1 Terabyte hard drive. That’s a thousand gigabytes! (I said that in the nerdiest way possible, seemed way better in my head) In all seriousness though, people may think that’s almost too much storage space for games. A couple years ago, you would’ve thought my hard drive was over-compensation and that I wouldn’t need that much space for games as well as school work. Now it seems like even that’s not even enough, especially with my Steam “pile of shame” reaching the 60 games mark. Only 41 games are installed on my PC and it’s already close to capacity, to the point where my cluttered hard drive affects gameplay quality.

GTA 5 File Size

The problem starts with these AAA games taking up huge amounts of space. The most recent example being Grand Theft Auto 5 (Won multiple Game of the Year Awards, fastest-selling entertainment product in history, made $1 billion in its first three days on sale.) Grand Theft Auto 5 had just been released on PC (April 14th, months after the Xbox One & PS4 console releases and over a year after the original release on Xbox 360 & PS3.) I was so excited to finally get this game on PC after playing it on my old Xbox 360 a couple years ago. Only one problem arose: the game was going to be a near 60 GB download. I had to uninstall a few games just to make room for it, forcing me to back up my saves on a flash drive should I ever want to go back to those games. Not only that, but even on Hofstra’s High Speed Wi-Fi it took hours. Not to mention other consumers who have generic high speed internet probably had to wait overnight to play on PC, or even on console as well.

Final Fantasy 13 File Size

Even on a game like Final Fantasy XIII, which was released years ago towards the beginning of the Xbox 360 and PS3 lifespan, is ported to PC with a 60 GB download. It’s especially ridiculous for a game that was released in 2010, even if the PC version has “updated graphics.” According to an article by Daniel Sims on VentureBeat, 46 GB of FF XIII’s 60 GB download accounts for all the pre-rendered cut scenes, meaning only 14 GB of that download make up the actual gameplay. Pre-rendered cut scenes were used in past games to convey important parts of the game’s story that the in-game graphics were incapable of portraying. Nowadays, with in-game graphics coming close to CGI quality, the justification for pre-rendered cut scenes is becoming slimmer.

Unlike my previous blog post, there really aren’t many things we can do to fix this. Games increasing in size means that Internet Service Providers need to begin upgrading their infrastructures for faster download speeds. This is a lofty request that takes time. The average internet speed in the US is 35.16 MBps (Megabytes per second.) Only now are ISPs like Google Fiber and Comcast announcing 1GB/second internet connections in certain areas. Along with ISPs, there need to be advances in hard drive technology to allow for cheaper, more economic high capacity hard drives for gamers. So far, the highest capacity commercial hard drives for consumers are typically 2-3 TB. When some technologies thrive and advance, some lag behind, which is exactly the case with bigger and better games and old hard drive and internet technology. For now, those who buy games digitally just have to play the waiting game and buy expensive extra storage.

Further Reading

VentureBeat article in-depth opinion piece on game files being too large: http://venturebeat.com/community/2014/10/17/aaa-game-file-sizes-are-getting-out-of-hand/

Ars Technica article detailing how internet speeds aren’t keeping up with the times: http://arstechnica.com/gaming/2013/09/is-downloadable-game-size-increasing-faster-than-broadband-speeds/

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