Yesterday, we got our best look yet at Remedy's upcoming Alan Wake sequel, Alan Wake 2, and boy did it set our tongues to waggin'. Fans of the original have been clamoring for a legit sequel ever since that game's 2010 release and here, at long last, was a big, fat, glossy trailer showing off that sequel's gorgeous graphics, new locations, and just a teensy bit of plot. It's a great trailer and we reported as much.
Today, we're surprised to learn a little something about Alan Wake 2 that somehow escaped our attention during yesterday's excitement: according to Kotaku, Alan Wake 2 will be a digital-only release. No physical copies of the game are being produced and, according to a FAQ about the game from Remedy. This same FAQ also explains the company's decision to go digital only, saying:
"There are many reasons for this. For one, a large number of have shifted to digital only. You can buy a Sony PlayStation 5 without a disc drive and Microsoft’s Xbox Series S is a digital only console. It is not uncommon to release modern games as digital-only.
Secondly, not releasing a disc helps keep the price of the game at $59.99 / €59.99 and the PC version at $49.99 / €49.99.
Finally, we did not want to ship a disc product and have it require a download for the game — we do not think this would make for a great experience either."
This is, quite frankly, not a terribly surprising development. As Remedy points out, digital-only versions of both the PS5 and the current-gen XBOX are available for purchase, and many gamers prefer this method for picking up new releases (in addition to the "buy a disc but still have to download it, anyway" issue Remedy mentions above, it's worth pointing out that buying digital sometimes allows for players to pre-download their purchases, which means they can be playing them even faster upon launch). That this also saves buyers $10 is also a nice little bonus.
And yet, there are pitfalls to going digital-only. Obviously, these games can't be traded in at your local GameStop towards whatever new title someone may want to purchase, and there exists the persistent, gnawing sensation that owning something on digital is something of a crapshoot in the long term (as Kotaku goes on to point out, the original Alan Wake was removed from both Steam and XBOX Live five years ago thanks to "some licensing over its soundtrack" having expired. These instances of digital media being yanked by various platforms and companies are relatively few and far between, yes, but a risk is a risk even when it's an infrequent one.
This writer's honestly not sure how to feel about the situation. On the one hand, I buy digitally just about as often as I buy physically, so I'm no purist. On the other hand, simply having the option seems like the best compromise for everyone.
At any rate, this all seemed worth mentioning to the Alan Wake fans in the crowd. When the time comes, nothing in the world will prevent me from buying that sucker, but I'd also feel a lot safer if I knew nothing could ever "happen" to, y'know, the thing I threw down $60 for. Stay tuned for more on Alan Wake 2 as further updates become available.