Many of us were introduced to gaming at a tender age when the setup sizes of games were small enough to fit in a single 700MB CD-ROM.
It’s rational to assume the reason(s) behind increasing size of games, but there is more than what meets the eye. So, let us dive deep into it.
When Titanfall came out a few years back, it was a hefty 48GB game for just the setup files. And that does not even hold a candle to Call of Duty: Modern Warfare that pushes 183GB just for the setup.
Developers strive towards new compression methods to reduce the duplication of the files and enhance storage efficiency. But it could only be achieved when the game is installed. The main reason for games being this huge is obvious; the humongous texture which results in buffed up files and storage shortages. Gamers try to solve this and resort to an external storage or limit the number of games installed.
Strike One: We Saw it Coming
The growing performance leaps of PCs, consoles and making them more capable of handling higher resolutions has brought us this far. Remember Crysis from 2007?
The boom in size is more than expected. Forza 7 is approximately 100GB, which is twice as much as Titanfall which weighs at 50GB. Turn10, claims that the game is highly compressed, and it is still of 100GB.
Strike Two: Advancements in Audiovisual Quality.
It says a lot about enhancements and innovations that go under the hood. The virtual world’s geographical size is one such asset. Another such asset is an audio library. Starting from improved audio engines and hardware. Developers decided to provide a rich audio experience to match the visual experience. With time, lossless and uncompressed audio assets have been included in games to provide the right level of detail when being used in a surround sound environment.
Reduction and compression algorithms, if used in these assets not only reduces the quality of audio but also adds overhead on the hardware to decompress the files whenever needed. One solution would be the inclusion of audio quality slider but that again would only reduce the installed size, having little to no effect on setup sizes. Add 4K and higher resolution gaming into the mix and these textures multiply even further in terms of size.
Strike Three: Developers and Digitization of Distribution Media.
But there is another critical factor to account for the increased setup sizes and this might come to surprise for many gamers out there. The Extinction of Physical media.
With the advent of online gaming stores and libraries, the physical trend has died. Game developers and publishers don’t have to worry about losing money in adding more discs to the retail packaging rather they leave this burden on the customer’s back and their Internet Service Providers. Trends where EA never included a disc version of Titanfall 2 for the PC version and Microsoft’s Xbox exclusive Forza 7 only having a disc media in ultimate edition speaks volumes of the economics.
A little off-topic side note. The abolition of physical media was welcomed by most gamers. The digital acquisition of a game has made update sizes substantially small.
Higher-resolution gaming and advancements in hardware potential have led to a higher quality of textures and assets.
Audio quality has also improved and has been a very underrated enhancement in immersion. The lossless high-fidelity audio assets also give rise to higher sizes of audio libraries.
But the real culprits are the game developers and their practices to ignore size reduction as they ain’t spending on physical storage anymore.