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What would a world without digital downloads look like? How many discs would be required to play your favourite games, such as Call of Duty: Modern Warfare or Red Dead Redemption 2? These are the big questions in gaming today, no doubt about that, and it's our prerogative to answer them for you as best we can.
It's not often you find a boxed version of a PC game nowadays—the platform's been almost entirely bereft of physical media for years. However, every so often there's an announcement so enveloped in dad energy that you can't help but stare, mouth agape, and marvel at its old-school splendour. Most recently, that was the announcement of Microsoft Flight Simulator as a 10 disc physical edition (opens in new tab).
What a beauty that 10-disc box set is too, fitting 85GB of actual game data and a manual that's practically the size of the Encyclopedia Britannica into its many fold-away sleeves. There's no game worthier of such treatment in my eyes. But it did also get me thinking: how many discs would you need for, say, famously colossal videogame Call of Duty: Modern Warfare?
Let's run the maths. One dual-layer DVD can store 8.5GB, which is the practical limit for us PC gamers—Blu Ray disc drives never really took off, and frankly every minute we waste here is another DVD disc drive in the scrapheap.
My current installation of COD: Modern Warfare requires 193GB of precious storage. So 193 divided by 8.5 equals 22.7. Let's round that up for a total of 23 dual-layer DVDs for Call of Duty: Modern Warfare.
And that's without any compression/decompression/updates added in for good measure.
Up above you'll find a crude image of what that might look like—double-sided sleeves, of course. I would hope for perhaps a little more attention to detail on any actual packaging, however.
We've run the maths for a few other games too, take a look.
- Red Dead Redemption 2 - 118GB - 14 DVDs
- Death Stranding - 63.5GB - 7.5 DVDs
- Half-Life: Alyx - 67.8GB - 8 DVDs
And that's just some of today's most famed titles. Imagine what the games of just a few years from now will demand in storage space? Super-high resolution textures, high bandwidth SSDs—it's clear that storage requirements are about to balloon to Brobdingnagian proportions in a matter of years.
Which will likely mean these occasional special disc sets are a fleeting part of PC gaming history, destined to slowly dwindle to just a distant memory, or worse, nothing more than a download code in a box. If you still have a collection of PC discs stacked up in some dusty cupboard, get in there with them, hold them close, read the printed manual like you've never read anything before. You'll never know how good you had it until it's gone.