Tobold's Blog
Tuesday, December 07, 2010
 
Box vs. Digital

As I needed two copies of Cataclysm, one for me and one for my wife, I had the opportunity to buy them in different formats, one in a box, the other as digital download. This is a short comparison of the two formats:

Price: I paid €34.99 for the digital copy of Cataclysm, but only €25.90 for the box from the shop. Considering that making the box with the DVD costs more money, and that the shop gets a part of what I paid, the digital download price is too expensive. Depending on your interpretation this is price gouging, or Blizzard trying to keep retail shops in business. Box wins on price.

Installation: The boxed copy of Cataclysm installed quickly enough, but as the digital copy had already downloaded invisibly in the background for a while, the digital version was still a lot faster. The digital version also didn't require me to enter a complicated key. Digital wins on installation.

Timing: Theoretically the digital version was playable from midnight, while the boxed version could be bought midnight, brought home, installed, and then played. Practically the login servers were overloaded at midnight, so this didn't matter. I played the digital copy early in the morning for 10 minutes, but had to go to work. The boxed copy I bought on my way back home after work. Digital wins on timing, but only barely.

Backup: One reason I wanted at least one box for was to have a backup on DVD. But that is probably old school thinking, as the DVD will not have the latest patch version anyway. I'm not sure how much faster or slower installing the game and all three expansions would be from DVD compared with having to download all again. And I don't really want to have to try it. So no winner in this category.

Overall the two ways have different advantages and disadvantages, and it is up to you how important these are to you. For price sensitive people wanting the joy of holding a physical copy in hand, the box is better. But for getting into the game quick and hassle-free the digital version is great.
Comments:
A minor technical note: It's possible to have configured your WoW installation that was going to be installed via the boxed copy to download the content beforehand as well, thus removing the "install" step from boxed version as well. However, you would still need to obtain the product key from the physical copy.
 
I agree that the price for the download appears very high.

Just to add a bit to what miked just said: I didn't do any particular configuration at all before yesterday. When I came home with the boxed copy today, I went into battle.net, upgraded my client and started the game. I got a percentage counter advising me that my upgrade was being "confirmed" or some such, and then I was good to go.

So either there's something wrong or the game was already installed as per 4.0.3a. Either way, no further installation needed.
 
Time is money. So is fuel for your car, bus-tickets and/or energy-bars to enable you to walk all the way to the store (depending on how far away it is). As such, the box-price might actually be more than for the digital copy.
 
The price issue is interesting in Europe!

Here in Australia, digital download cost $US40.00 .. which is something like $AUS41.00 at the moment.

Shop price at EB Games is $AUS58.00. There might be bargains around, but I'd be astonished if I could get a box cheaper than the download.

Of course, part of this is due to the fact that shops increase prices on imported goods when the Australian dollar is weak, but never reduce them when it's strong. They'd rather keep their prices high and whine to the government asking for internet mail orders to be charged sales tax
 
In North America (or at least Canada) it's actually cheaper:
Digital = $40
Boxed = $40+tax ($5)

I still prefer the comfort of having a disc but I suspect that's a function of age (being over 40). Installation time was quick and effortless as an upgrade though it might be more of toss up when implementing a full installation.
 
It does seem to depend on you location.

Probably because Europe went first this time, at least my realm had minor (<3 min) log in issues. So DD was faster.

And I do not expect boxed version to be cheaper.

The question is whether you want to pay extra for commemorative edition (& pet.) If so, box it is.
 
Yeah, I was going to comment that while your experience was that you couldn't get log in at midnight, my experience was that I was able to log in maybe around five minutes after midnight (in America, not in EU).

So, mileage may vary, etc. etc., but I thought this deserved some mention.
 
Yeah, YMMV on the price. Here in central Florida, the download cost was $10 cheaper than retail.
 
Blizzard actually warns against using the DVD if you had already installed WoW and let it update itself in the last few days.
 
I pre-ordered my copy in June from Amazon for £17.91. I received an email from them yesterday that delivery might be delayed, but it was waiting for me when I got home from work.

I would not have had the opportunity to play any earlier than after work yesterday (sleep, etc!), so I am very pleased indeed that I didn't opt for the digital version.

Amazon are now charging about £23 for Cata, so I am even more pleased!!!
 
I don't know if they meant it that way, but the digital version comes out better price-wise here in Canada.

Traditionally a game in Canada costs about $10 more than in the US - e.g. $60 Canadian dollars vs $50 US dollars. This was okay when exchange rates warranted it, however our dollar recently reached parity. Our big box electronics retailers up here were offering Cata pre-orders at $50, while the digital download was $39.99. So, I picked the download. Later, those retailers advertised the price at $39.99 as well to match, but the digital download is STILL better value. The problem comes down to sales taxes -> We have to pay a VAT of 13% on the retail box, making the all-in price $45.19. There's not VAT on a digital download from a US server though! $39.99 straight up!

So digital download is by far the best way in Canada (unless you wanted to "collect" the box cover).
 
€35 is the recommended retail price. It's what you'll pay retail in Gamemania. €26 is the price paid in Saturn (Kortijk) or Mediamarkt.

So you can just as well say that most retailers are too expensive.

As for backups. Just copy your entire WoW dir to a second harddisk. It's how i back it up. Just had to copy my old WoW game and apply 7 gigs of patches to get it working. Bonus: you still have your hotkeys & addons working.
 
It's nice to have a box. I have still have my original vanilla WoW box and all the expansions.
 
Yes, WoW is wonderfully portable. I've had the same installation bounced around from one HDD to an external and back to a new HDD and it works just fine (but without Start Menu entries, which I don't care about).
 
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