Physical VS Digital Games


Hey everyone, I have a weird set of questions for other PC users out there.

I haven’t really been into PC gaming since the early Windows XP days. Because of this, I have an appeal for owning a physical disc for the games I buy. I’ve downloaded a few through steam, and I like it thus far, but like a caveman defrosting from an iceberg, I have tons of questions on how things work in the modern PC gaming scene.

With the new digital editions of evolve announced, I have to ask:

  1. If I get the disc for evolve, is it just to download it, or will I need the disc in the drive to play?
  2. Will this effect whether I have to log in to steam to access the executable file? Even if I am offline?
  3. Is all the DLC steam based regardless of format, or is it downloaded from elsewhere?
  4. If I get it digitally, can I save it to a disc if I want?
  5. I guess my ultimate question is, are there any drawbacks to going Digital over Physical?

It doesn’t necessarily have to apply to Evolve, but any modern game in general. How does it work nowadays?


As far as I know even if you get a disc copy you’ll still have to have Steam running to play the game, and you’ll most likely have to download a day-0 patch at that. Steam will install a game from the disc though rather than downloading it, which is of interest to people with bad Internet.

Several games can be run via the executable without Steam running, and Evolve might well be one of them, but I don’t think that’s officially condoned.

All the DLC will come through Steam.

You can burn the steam files to a disc, but they might not necessarily run if you load it into another computer. There are lots of drivers and api dlls that are likely to be installed in common locations rather than in the location of the install.

The only physical games I’ve ever gotten on Steam were the ones that came with the Orange Box, and that’s how they worked. My last 2 PC builds didn’t even have disc drives. This is me, so you could say I have some experience with digital distribution via Steam, at least on the consumer end.


1 - It depends on the game. There are very few games now a days that require discs in the computer to play. That being said, almost ALL physical copies have some sort of a patch/update Day 1 it seems.
2 - You can always execute steam games offline. Some games will not launch unless you are connected to the internet, but those are usually the minority of games.
3- I’m not sure what you mean. Could you clarify please :smile:
4 - Yes, you can burn it to a disc, however, some files might be locked to the Steam Account. It’s not just a simple .exe file to install it. However, most games are usually good enough to copy paste from one terminal to another. My brother copies a lot of games from my computer over to his because he is too lazy to download (Pre Google Fiber)


Thanks for the updates @MaddCow and @zind ! That makes a lot of sense. I am so out of touch with the modern PC stuff, and I appreciate the help catching up.

As for steam locked stuff, would they be unlocked if downloaded by disc?

I had a game that I used to be able to run off of steam, but since I got my account, I have to log in to play it. So I am a little paranoid about that stuff.

and @MaddCow, the DLC thing was because the last time I updated DLC outside steam, I had to download files straight from the developer’s website. It’s been a while :stuck_out_tongue:

overall, I guess my ultimate question is, are there any drawbacks to going Digital over Physical?


Nope, even if you download by disc it’ll still be locked to Steam. Installing from a disc just means that you won’t be downloading those gigabytes. These days Steam is DRM, not just distribution. The only thing that makes it better than other DRM in my mind is that generally it’s unobtrusive and an overall value-add, rather than pointlessly punishing.

Not ALL games use the Steamworks DRM - I have a lot of little indie games that I can copy to and run off of a thumb drive if I want to. That said, I’m assuming that Evolve is going to take full advantage of Steamworks, which means it’ll be locked to your account.


Steam is a ton better then when it first came out. It was a heaping pile of shit when it came out but it’s a LOT better now. For the most part you don’t need to unlock many games. The biggest ones would most likely be Indie or Exclusive steam content I would think. Usually though you can just copy paste. (Don’t forget that steam has more folders on your computer in your /documents. Usually saves and config files)

One way to move games around, is just log into your steam account on a different computer and download there. Usually just having the game files copied is enough.


Awesome! Thank you both so much! one last question: can I still log into steam with no online access? I don’t want to be locked from single player evolve if my router goes to heck.


Yes, there is an ‘offline’ mode.


Steam has an offline mode, and it actually works now, as opposed to 5 or so years ago. As long as Evolve’s “offline mode” is truly and actually offline (unlike a couple of other recent clusterfucks), it’ll work.


Download speeds (screw your google fiber @MaddCow , I’m currently preloading at 3Mbps)

And the fact you have a cool box. I’m sad there are mostly no guides nowadays, but that is also a great thing to have.


Wonderful. You three rock. I really appreciate the fast answers!