Environmental Impact of Video Games [ article ]

So you’re saying I have to choose between video games and saving the environment…What the hell are we going to do without the environment?!

Seriously though, as the infographic explains this is a definitely strong argument as to why we should support downloadable games. You know, besides the obvious benefits of instant gratification and laziness.


  • Cormano

    So basically it’s a study on why physical games are evil, published by some online gaming portal? Way to remain objective and use the environmental cause as a pretext to kick the retail competition when they’re down.
    As a side note, does the air-quote-study-air-quote take into account the materials needed to manufacture the vast amounts of computers, hard drives, server farms, etc. needed to support a 100% dematerialized gaming economy? I don’t think so.

    • palle

      I’m sorry I don’t normally harp of these things because the English language is ever evolving, but why in the world would you write out “air-quote” instead of just using “”? I understand that you want to call into question the validity of the study, but written quotes would have done the same thing. Is this some new convention I don’t know about?

    • thewood

      You pick on computers, but you can download games on your X-Box or PS3 too. Steam just made a PS3 version so you can buy AAA titles on Steam and download straight to your PS3.

  • CoolDude

    That’s why I play pirated downloade… Why did I say that?
    (That’s a joke. Please don’t hurt me and my game consoles!)

  • Skorpeyon

    I recently discovered I have over 400GB of games from Steam. If I were to download every game I actually own on there, it would be well more than my computer has harddrive space. This means I would need to upgrade my harddrives and toss the old ones. If this keeps going, you’ll see harddrives being purchased at a rate around the same as consoles, and where do you think the old ones end up? Not to mention, as another poster pointed out, the server farms that host the games needing upgrading, etc. What happens to THOSE parts? Are they causing less impact on the environment? That would be a nice study to see.

    I’m all for downloading games, but frankly my PS3’s harddrive is full, my 360’s is too and would cost a redonkulous amount to upgrade, and my computer is on its way. I buy physical media now so that I don’t have to spend a lot of time re-downloading and burning up my brand-spanking new internet cap (jerks) re-installing games every time I want to play them.

    • Yue

      Many PC component are quite recyclable now. Especially hard drives.

      • thewood

        Not only this, but it’s kind of pointless to have your ENTIRE Steam library downloaded at once anyway. I only keep the ones I play regularly downloaded. With cloud saving you don’t even lose saved games if you delete the game from your hard-drive. That’s kind of the point of Steam anyway.

  • Sky Render

    You know, I bet the makers of these sorts of infographics would run screaming in terror at the term “opportunity cost”. They’d probably also be terrified by Newton’s Third Law, come to think of it… Long story short: it’s actually a scientific fact that there is no such thing as a “free lunch”, or even a discount one. One way or another, you’re going to have to give something up to get something else. The best you can do is choose what you’re giving up, and even that’s no guarantee.

  • Yue

    Yeah, but we won’t see a big push toward digital download for consoles, unless games retailers die off, because they are the main culprit behind stopping this from happening, by threatening to not stock up the games that are available on digital download, especially more so if they are slightly cheaper than their disk counterpart.

    • thewood

      They could just start selling the console digital downloads on their own sites, like Gamestop, Best Buy, and others already do for PC.

  • kvp

    It would be really interesting to compare the cost of making and shipping a game disk to the cost of making, installing and maintaining the online network required for a download only game. Then we can choose the more economical one.

    ps: The low amount of recycled games hardware can be accounted for if the hardware is still in use. Last time i checked the old nintendo game systems and old memory cards were one of the most durable pieces of computing hardware (compared to pc-s) and probably most of them is still in use or in storage. People don’t usually throw out perfectly working consoles just because they are old. Of course, if they do it would usually end up in landfill or get recycled (=burned for precious metals) in asia.

  • Davvolun

    I feel compelled to add–what will happen to all those games I’ve downloaded for the PS3 and the XBox 360 when I upgrade to PS4 and XBox 720? Nintendo seems perfectly fine charging as much as $10 for the same games they’ve already sold me. What happens when the servers for XBLA on XBox 360 get shut down or upgraded beyond the support of the 360?

    I’m probably completely alone here, but I currently prefer physical media still because I know where I stand with physical media. The company that owns the IP can’t force the argument that I only own a license, which they can revoke at any time, because they can’t “delete” the disk I own. And I’m sure this issue will get completely resolved the same day that Apple starts offering FLAC as a download option…

  • thewood

    Plus, most of those old systems will never get thrown away. Nostalgia is a powerful force to be reckoned with. I’ve also seen people take the shells of old NES’s and use them for homemade PC shells, things like that. I still own an Atari, it barely works but I keep it just so I can say I own an Atari. Ahhh, nostalgia.

  • L.

    If all the games nintendo made turned up in a landfill. … this will never happen.
    would take nintendo 1453 years to recycle….. not if they did it all at once,
    .4 galons of crude oil makes 1 lb of plastic. which kind of plastic?
    If all games were DL…. yeah, I don’t think you did the math for ALL games….
    more games than people. No shit, I own more than one game?!
    the plastic used in consoles doesnt decompose. Well, I’d friggen hope not, Im still using it.
    if C.O.D. were DL instead of manufactured….. then there’d be no midnight release lines…. wait, that one sounds ok.

  • Xphacter

    How can you compare 2.5 B to 1.72 M, you are supposed to compare them in the same units for an effective chart. 2,500 M to 1.72 M http://xkcd.com/558/