I admit I stopped buying DVDs and Blu-rays when Crunchyroll entered the scene.
I recall back in the 90s, spending HUNDREDS of dollars on VHS boxsets of anime. Does anyone remember Suncoast Video? I’d go there all the time on birthdays with money from my grandparents or friends and family and buy anime box sets. I also would get catalogs in the mail from a company… I think it was called Funco? They sold anime by mail. I can’t remember if that was their name – but yep I’d order a TON of anime – VHS – through them.
You couldn’t fit many episodes on VHS – which is why it got expensive fast.
Then along came DVD and an entire 26 episode anime could fit on one or two discs. And so instead of spending $200 on an entire series, I spent maybe $40.
But of course, then came Crunchyroll in late 90s / early 2000s and everything changed. You could watch some stuff for free with commercials, or sign up for premium – I’ve been a premium subscriber pretty much since day one over there. To have simulcast access and no commercials. And it was what? like $10 bucks a month – and had – and has THOUSANDS of series to watch – like more anime than I could ever watch in my whole life.
I spent about 20 years not buying a single DVD or Blu-Ray. I streamed everything. I still have so many streaming subscription services that I use regularly. These services include Crunchyroll, Amazon Prime, Hulu, Funimation, Viki, Disney+, and Netflix. There’s always something to watch. I have more things on my “Want to Watch” list than I could probably even watch in my entire lifetime.
So why did I decide to start buying DVDs and Blu-Rays again in 2020?
I’m a “re-watcher”.
Not everyone is – and for them, streaming services are fine.
What’s a “re-watcher?” It’s someone who likes to watch movies or series they’ve already seen. Not constantly of course, but from time to time. I might suddenly “remember that movie I saw ten years ago” and want to watch it either by myself, or to share my love of the movie with someone else.
If you’re like me, when you really love something, you want to share that hobby with other people. That’s why I started a local geek club in my city. To have people to watch anime and KDramas with.
For many films in my collection, yes they’re probably on one or more streaming services… but not true of all films in my collection.
This is especially the case with Korean Dramas.
Does anyone reading this remember a subscription service DramaFever.com?
It had many many exclusive Korean Dramas, and then without any warning one day, it was gone.
It was not a pirate site, NO, it was a paid subscription, and I think (correct me if I’m wrong) It was owned by Warner Brothers.
There was some speculation that they were killing DramaFever to be able to offer those titles as part of Warner Brother’s own streaming service. I can’t remember what ever happened to their plans for their own streaming service. They may still be working on something, but it’s been at least 2 years already since they killed DramaFever.
The problem was that they still held the license for MANY popular Korean Dramas, so other streaming services, like lets say Netflix or Hulu, could not just pick them up and add them to their digital lineup.
This left fans in a frenzy and a panic wanting to know how their favorite Korean Dramas ended.
Drama Fever was a small company sure. You might think, well I don’t watch Korean Dramas I just watch American programs… But here’s the thing… Shows come and GO all the time on services like Netflix. They constantly add AND REMOVE shows from their platform.
The only way to be sure that you can watch your favorite programs any time you want is to buy the DVD or the Blu-Ray.
And DVDs and Blu-Rays are DIRT CHEAP these days. I find most of my collection at the dollar store lol. ONE DOLLAR.
Of course, that’s not the case for anime or Korean Drama… I find Korean Drama on sites like Play Asia or even sometimes on Ebay – but you have to be careful on Ebay because a lot of those are pirated versions. Even if you don’t care about piracy – I don’t really care myself for example – but you should be careful because the pirated versions have HORRIBLE subtitles – like the subtitles don’t even make sense most of the time, or some parts of the film might not have subtitles, etc.
I bought a “region free” DVD and Blu-Ray player for myself – not so I could pirate things, but because sometimes I find LEGIT Korean Dramas with English subtitles that are intended for other regions such as some asian regions or european regions, australia, or other areas. With my Region Free DVD and Blu-Ray player, I can find the best deals/prices on legitimate copies of my favorite KDramas with nice clean subtitles. NICE.
And it’s not just movies that should matter. It’s true of Games too! There have been digital games – and/or gaming services – that have later pulled the plug and either removed specific games – or just shuttered their services.
If you love a game, and know you want to replay it again and again and again – buy the physical version.
I’m largely a digital person still when it comes to games. My laptop doesn’t even have a CD drive. Half of my switch games are physical, because at the time I didn’t have the memory card and space for my switch. My PS4 with it’s 1TB hard drive, almost all digital. I own only handful of games, some steelbook series, etc that I wanted just for my collection so to speak. My steam library over 1000 games and growing.
You know, what would happen if Steam went under – not likely to ever happen in a million years I know – It’s like the king of digital gaming – but what if it did happen?
Over 1,000 games lost forever. GONE. Like that. When you think that many games cost me over $60 a piece… that “in theory” is $60,000 gone. But not really because to be honest, most of my games come from sites like Humble Bundle, or Green Man Gaming, or Indie Gala, or I wait until Steam has their summer or christmas sales.
But still… Probably a couple thousand dollars would just POOF disappear.
That my friends is the problem with digital technology.
It’s here today – but could be gone tomorrow.
If I love a DVD, I’ll buy it. In 2020 alone I grew my DVD collection from ALMOST 0 – to well over 300 DVDs, a lot of which are Korean Dramas and Anime, but also some of my favorite American movies and TV series.
Now I can watch them any time I want. 15 years from now if I have kids, I can show them “mommy’s favorite” movie or whatever. It’s nice to have them and know they’ll always be there, unless there’s a flood or a fire, etc.
You can’t say the same about digital media. Who knows if Hulu, Steam, Netflix, Amazon, Youtube, etc will still be here in 20 years, who knows what new streaming services may come and go in the next 20 years, or what shows Netflix will add next month and which shows will leave next month.
That’s the problem. We can’t be sure. That’s why Physical Discs are still important.
That’s why I paid that extra $100 for the physical version of PS5 when I preordered it.
That’s why I’ll keep buying physical discs. I still buy digital too. It just depends. If I love something and know I will want to watch it or play it again in the future, I’m buying the physical copy. If I’m just killing time watching or playing something and not really that into it, streaming or digital game keys are fine.
Physical discs can get scratches or get broken. But if you take care of them, they’ll be there for a lifetime. I still have games from the 90s that still work fine – and some of them are worth a pretty penny now too I might add.
There’s many games that I own that have never been offered digitally. Hirameki International’s titles come to my mind first. This includes games like Ever17 the Out of Infinity which is one of my all time favorite games. Other wonderful games by Hirameki included Piece of Wonder and Anima Mundi Dark Alchemist. Also, a different company called Mixx (Used to publish manga too back in the day), released an English version of Graduation on the PC, another one of my favorite games that I still play to this day like 30 years or whatever after its release. Another example is PETZ Dogz and Catz – there are some versions floating around out there, but my favorites were 3, 4, and I think 5? I think there’s a 5th one – anyways they have never been available digitally and they are awesome for their breeding and genetics which a lot of the “current” PETZ games don’t have that genetics system or breeding any more. I’m sure I can think of many more titles like this that have yet to come to a streaming service. I’m so grateful to have them in my collection! Love them so much. As I mentioned I don’t have a physical disc drive on my current laptop. But I could buy a portable drive hook it up via USB and play these classic games any time I want. I’ve been asking GOG to bring these games for years, but they still haven’t put them on their site.
In the end it’s your choice. I love the ease and convenience of a digital library such as Steam for my Games or Netflix for binge watching movies. But I love the comfort of knowing I can take out my favorite games or movies and watch them whenever I want no matter what happens with decisions out of my control made by the big streaming corporations.