Have you wondered if you can get a digital copy of a game you already own on the PS4? I was intrigued, so I researched the internet trying to answer this question.
Having a physical game does not give you a free right to a digital copy, as this would be highly exploitable as you could buy a game, download it then immediately sell the game for a discount. But you can use the same save data from the physical game if you buy a digital version.
I know it’s annoying but it wouldn’t make sense for game publishers to give you a free digital version like with Blue-ray discs just because you bought physical, I will explain the reasons why below.
Why You Do Not Get A Free Digitial Copy Of Physical Games
I’ve spoken about the advantages and disadvantages of physical games and which one you should buy here, but for Sony free digital games included with the disc makes no business sense.
Game Companies Would Make A Lot Less Money
A physical game is not attached to any account so if every physical game resulted in a digital copy, all you need to do is purchase the game and then either give it to someone else or sell it/ get a refund on the game! Sony is not in the business of giving away their software for free!
There would be no incentive for anyone to buy Play Station Store games if you always got free games with a physical copy, as Sony would go out of business. In 2019 via the PlayStation Network which includes, digital games, DLC, and subscription services Sony made over $12 billion!
Remember that video game companies do not make money off hardware sales, most of their money comes from software like in the PlayStation network.
For every $60 game sold both Microsoft and Sony make only make around $7 in platform royalties and $27 in publishing fees for first-party games, way less than subscription services which is why Sony is focussing on services like PS Now.
Hardware is even more expensive with the PS5 being sold at a loss, this report from Bloomberg shows the PS5 current unit cost is roughly $450, almost $100 more expensive than the PS4! Nintendo Joy-cons price is more shocking with each joy-con costing 45$ each to produce!
Read more about why Joy-cons are so expensive here.
Why Blue-Ray And Video Games Are Different
With Blue-ray if you buy a physical copy of a disc you can get a digital code that allows you to get a digital copy, so why don’t video games get the same treatment?
The differences are Blue-Rays are not sold with specific hardware or platforms in mind like games, many different systems can play Blue-ray like the Xbox One, so movie companies have an incentive to get people to buy digital as it is more profitable.
With games what is new is hot, unlike movies not many people will play old games, as new games are the most expensive since they have the largest demand. Physical Switch games are still selling very well therefore Sony doesn’t have any incentive to change their business model like giving free digital games with physical purchases, unlike Movie companies.
The Physical Movie Market Is Very Weak
Unlike 20 years were even in 2005 95 million Americans still owned VHS VCRs the physical movie market is on its last legs. It is a lot easier to torrent or streams a movie/TV show online compared to torrenting games, so buying a game digitally doesn’t scream value.
The market exists for collectors who love owning physical discs of their favorite movies, so adding the free digital movie incentive makes sense as it seems like your getting more value.
Games are different as if Sony offered a digital download code whilst collectors would keep the game copies, everyone else would sell them on the used market. However, Nintendo’s first-party copies still hold amazing value used, if you want to know why please check my article here.
All game companies don’t like the used market and but if they take anti-consumer measures and tried to make games tied to one console like Microsoft tried to do with the Xbox one(read more here) this would be very anti-consumer which could cause people to stop buying their products altogether; very bad for business.
If Sony connected discs to accounts and allowed one free download with per disc purchased, this will devalue the used game market with tons of games, Sony would lose too much money with this model.
Can You Convert A Disc To A Digital Game On PS4?
You cannot convert a disc to a Digital game on the PS4, the only way would be buying the game digitally and then deleting all physical game data so you can play the game
Do PS4 discs games take up less space? Learn the truth in my article
Do PS4 discs games take up less space? Learn the truth in my article.
What would happen if you bought a digital game of a game you physically own,? Luckily for you, bobexr3 in the video above did exactly that!
When he downloaded a game he already owned he got the error of not being able to add the content to downloads as a ‘disc version of the same application has been used on the PS4‘ and in order to download the game he needed to ‘delete the disc version of the game‘
The only advantage of doing this is if a game is on a special deal and you can make more money selling the game than it’s a digital discounted price, otherwise it is not worth it.
Can you trade in Physical Games For Digital?
No, the only way to switch from physical to digital is buying the game again, as if there was a way without buying the game people could buy the disc, convert it to digital and then sell the disc getting it for free, which would hurt publishers and the used game market.
Look at what happened with CD’s is as easy to buy a CD burn it and distribute the MP3 files to everyone effectively destroying the music hardware market.
Game publishers don’t want this to happen to games, so putting security measures such as needing to delete your physical game data in order to download a digital copy of the same game makes sense.