For several years after I began to collect DVDs, I still saw my VHS collection as a decent alternative. Now the very thought of watching a film on VHS would bring most to laughter, or even tears. I never thought my DVDs would suffer the same fate as my vast collection of dust-covered VHS tapes. However, as I recently moved my DVDs from boxes after a move, I realized just how little I cared for them anymore. This is not only an issue of video quality, but also of the need for physical media.
I have never been one to buy into the idea of a world without physical films available for purchase. I’ve always loved collecting films, and showcased my large, alphabetically ordered DVD collection proudly. As I am slowly transitioning to Blu-ray, my interest in upgrading my collection once again is diminishing. For many of my favourite films, upgrading to Blu-ray is a no-brainer. And yet, owning something physically has less value to me than it ever has.
Similar to film, I loved collecting music and video-games. However, now I purchase both almost exclusively digitally. Services such as iTunes and Steam have made owning physical copies entirely pointless. That said, services as effective as iTunes and Steam do not exist for film. At least, not just yet.
One of the issues seems to be that watching films digitally is split between streaming and actually owning a specific title. Video stores are now a thing of the past, as most people subscribe to streaming services such as Netflix and Hulu. And yet, these streaming services do not satisfy the strict wants and needs of many film fans.
A major issue that is likely not to be solved for years, if ever, is the fact that most titles are exclusive to one service. This makes finding specific titles on a single streaming service difficult. Beyond that, the quality offered is just not as good as on Blu-ray. It seems like just a matter of time before a company gets it right, offering a huge library for purchase, at Blu-ray or higher quality. That said, many hurdles stand in the way of having a truly successful way of purchasing films digitally.
There is still a nostalgic pull towards owning something physically. Still, I know that once a service effective enough is available, I will have no problem starting my digital collection. The Criterion Collection is an exception to the rule, as they make owning a film physically absolutely worth it. However, it is a sad realization that owning something physically no longer has the same significance it had several years ago, and the cons of physical media are as apparent as ever.