As gamers, we’re seeing a growing increase in the file size required for games. It’s not just on PC, this trend has also started to plague the consoles that support Blu-Ray now as well. So does file size really translate into a better quality game..? Is there a wider issue of not enough storage on consoles to handle these larger games now that we’re moving towards a more digital model? Those are two questions I’d like to answer.
Ever since RAGE was released back in 2011 with the use of the id Tech 5 engine and it’s included “Megatexturing” feature, the amount of Hard Drive (HDD) space that most video games require today is typically upwards from 15GB. There are a few ways that developers can reduce the size of their titles. One way is to remove languages that aren’t selected upon during installation. Games bought on Steam or other DRM platforms will download all the language files supported for them rather than just the language selected. So if you had a choice to remove the languages you didn’t want, it could really cut down on the total file size.
A game like The Evil Within on PC was about 25GB at launch, today it’s 58GB with all the DLC downloaded. If you could delete all non English files (assuming you’re an English speaker) within the game you could save about 4GB if they weren’t downloaded. It’s not really that much of a difference. But just think about it this way, if you have 400+ games and about 345 of which are installed currently, saving that extra space may allow you to install another game of similar file size.
It all boils down to the fact that gamers seem to be okay with the idea of a large game but if games keep growing in size and console storage stays where it is or cloud storage doesn’t become more prevalent we could have a real storage crisis on our hands. The day of the CD or DVD medium is fast ending, but the console makers don’t seem to keen to help it die. Just look at the latest storage sizes on the Playstation 4 and the Xbox One. Is 500 GB to 1 TB their idea of mass storage? Most people I know aren’t buying CD’s in the store anymore but are going all digital and just downloading their games (sales numbers may still show large numbers of people buying in store though, so my experience may not be the norm yet). If games keep growing, we’ll have to change the model by either bumping up on storage or focusing more on cloud storage and making game streaming better.
Although cloud storage might seem like a great solution to this problem that idea might be handicapped by being marketed as a “paid” only option. Which means only PS+ or Xbox Live subscribers will be able to utilize it. There is also a possibility of having expandable storage, for an additional charge a player could get X or Y amounts of storage in the cloud. This too would probably be tethered to a PS + subscription, as it probably should be.
However, there shouldn’t be any additional charges and it should be part of the subscription. This, of course, isn’t the most ideal solution for users that may have less than perfect internet. If cloud storage is going to be a viable option to this file size and storage issue, they’re going to have to figure out a way to make it feasible and inexpensive and build it into their existing structure, like through the PS + subscription.
There is another issue here. What if console makers do decide to fix the file size and storage issue with the cloud and – together with developers – decided to make cloud storage a requirement to play games? This is great for people with high speed internet but what about people like me who live in a country that has poor quality internet (i.e. Australia, It’s okay I live there)? That could cut off a large section of the population.
I have over 400 games on Steam alone which takes up about 3TB (terabytes) of storage space and a total of 6TB of internal storage and 1TB worth of external storage on my PC. I have 100GB left due to recording media and games using other forms of DRM like Origin or Uplay. It adds up fast guys. With console gaming mimicking PC gaming every day and people building up their digital wheelhouse’s on their consoles, it’s not unrealistic for my PC requirements to become a reality on consoles someday.
Personally, I used to associate large file sizes with better quality textures and that sort of thing but in reality texture quality hasn’t really jumped that far yet as file sizes have. When I compared last year’s Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, a newer game with a file size of 53GB, to one of its four-year-old predecessors, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, it doesn’t look that much better. I’m not seeing the improvement.
Does this come down to compression of assets versus non-compressed assets? Are they simply not compressing the game files like they used to? That may be what it looks like to be fair. Maybe 53 GB is the actual “real” size of the game, uncompressed in all its glory. I’ve come across or played many games that have extremely large file sizes but the overall visual quality doesn’t seem to correspond. Mad Max for the PC is a prime example, you can see the specs below.
Most of the Mad Max footage I’ve seen has been in a desert with next to nothing on the horizon. So why on Earth is this game 32GB?
Mad Max on PC Requirements listed below.
OS: 64 bit: Win 7 SP1, Win 8.1
CPU: Intel Core i7-3770, 3.4 GHz or AMD FX-8350, 4.0 GHz
RAM: 8 GB RAM
Video: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 760 (3 GB Memory or higher) or AMD Radeon HD 7970 (3 GB Memory or higher)
HDD: 32 GB available space
Before I continue, I’d like to mention that listing a GTX 760 with parenthesis “3GB Memory or Higher” is a little counter productive seeing that GPU had a standard 2GB of VRAM. We seem to be in a continual upward spiral when it comes to both PC specs and file sizes required to store games on our HDD’s. I digress, though, as PC specs are a completely separate topic altogether.
What I’d like everyone who is reading this article to do is to the question the file sizes required for your games. Consoles may not have this issue as much because the majority of sales are on retail versions so you don’t have to store the entire game on the console just yet (correct me if I’m wrong). I suspect, as I mentioned earlier that the trend will be more towards digital and away from retail. So this will become a bigger problem as time goes on. Why should you question this as a major issue? Simply put I shouldn’t have to “waste” upwards of 20+GB on a game if it doesn’t really require it.
If the game’s size is being kept down by video clip resolution (bitrate plays a large factor in the file size) then there are ways to compress the footage to a reasonable size without losing video quality. If a game was photo-realistic, then I’d expect everything to still be compressed as far as possible to retain the quality, but that doesn’t mean I’d prefer a game that’s completely uncompressed.
I could talk about this subject all day, but at the end of the day, the larger games get the more space is required so in turn you need to “BUY” larger HDD’s to store the data and the cycle continues but instead of buying a game, installing it and playing it you may need to buy a new HDD first. This really puts the onus on console makers to either bump up the storage or consider their options rather than forcing us the consumer to just “deal with it.” The Cloud solution or streaming games might be an option to look at too. But until this is dealt with more seriously by the console makers or developers, we could have a looming storage crisis on our hands. Let’s hope someone makes a move to fix this.
Let us know what your thoughts are on large video games and how it might impact storage moving forward, I’m curious what other people think about this subject.