Downloading Games Is Worse For The Environment Than Buying Physical Discs

09.04.14 4 years ago 15 Comments


Mother Nature likes a physical copy. 

Video game publishers would really like if you (legally) downloaded all your games from here on out, mainly because it saves them the cost of manufacturing physical discs and plastic boxes. Of course they can’t actually say that, so the video game industry has pushed downloading as an environmentally friendly option — no wasteful plastic and paper to worry about!

It’s sounds logical, but according to a new study by the Journal of Industrial Ecology, downloaded games actually have a larger carbon footprint than games on regular old Blu-Rays. The production, distribution and sale of a regular physical game creates around 20.82 kg of carbon emissions, while downloading an average-sized PS3 game of 8.8GB creates a whopping 27.53 kg of carbon.

In the end, it all comes down to the amount of energy needed to power the servers and your own console during the lengthy download process, and as the size of games balloons (your average PS4 or Xbox One game is now 25 – 50GB) downloading games is only going to get worse for the environment. So, what’s the most earth-friendly way to buy your games? Grab ’em on disc when you’re already out doing something…

“Use public transport to purchase games from stores, or purchase games during shopping trips for other additional items, then the carbon emissions for Blue-ray [sic] would fair even better compared to downloading.”

I’ve got a GameStop just a few blocks away from my house, so I’m going to walk to if for all my future video game purchases and feel super smug about it afterwards.

Via io9

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