Why Are Modern Video Games So Large in Size?
Ever wondered why your new video game download takes up so much space on your console or PC? You're not alone.
The exponential growth in video game sizes has become a hot topic among gamers and developers alike. This article delves into why modern video games are so large and what factors have contributed to this trend.
Understanding the Basics
The Growth of Game Sizes Over the Years
In the early days of gaming, games were small in size, often measured in kilobytes or megabytes. However, as technology advanced and gaming evolved, so did the size of games. By the 1990s, the introduction of home consoles and PCs coupled with technological improvements in graphics cards led to an exponential increase in game sizes.
The Current Scenario: AAA Titles and Their Massive Sizes
Today, it's not uncommon for AAA titles, the blockbuster games with the highest development budgets and levels of promotion, to require over 100 gigabytes of storage space.
The reality of such massive games can pose a problem, especially for those with limited storage space or bandwidth allowances.
Factors Contributing to Larger Game Sizes
The Role of Game Art
Models, Lighting, and Textures
One of the main factors contributing to the large size of modern games is the art involved. High- quality models, lighting, and textures can take up significant storage space. For instance, in games like Forza Motorsport 7, the improvement in materials, textures, and lighting quality contributes to a large portion of the game's total size
The Impact of Audio Files
Moreover, audio files can consume a lot of storage space, especially when they are stored uncompressed. For example, Titanfall's PC installation required 48 GB, out of which 35 GB was just the game's audio files.
In-game cinematics, or cutscenes, are another big factor. These sequences, which often contain high-definition video and audio, can take up a lot of space.
The Influence of Texture Size
The size of textures, a kind of digital image used in 3D graphics, also has a substantial impact on game size. For instance, a 4K texture could be as much as 64MB, which can quickly add up in a game with complex graphics.
The Role of Game Development Practices
Often, developmental practices within large studios contribute to the size of games. In many instances, the majority of the team developing content may not even be aware of how large the final file size is, and as a result, little attention is paid to optimizing file sizes during the development process.
The Impact of Generational and Locational Factors
Interestingly, generational and locational factors also play a role. Developers who have grown up with large hard drives may not be familiar with the need to limit assets, leading to larger game sizes. Moreover, games are often developed in tech-hubs where the idea of download size mattering is laughable due to the widespread availability of high-speed internet.
The Impact of Technological Advancements on Game Size
The Evolution of Gaming Technology
The growth of video game sizes is closely linked to technological advancements. As technology continues to evolve, so too does the complexity and capabilities of video games. This evolution has led to games that are more immersive and realistic, but also larger in size.
Even Esports games tripled in size during the last 5 years. Games like CS:GO and Dota 2 are constantly getting updates, new features, skins, and heroes. Each update increases the total size of the game. For instance, Dota 2 was 20GB upon release, and it now takes more than 60GB of storage space.
The Rise of 3D Graphics and Powerful Processors
The introduction of 3D graphics in the 90s significantly increased the potential size of video games. Games started to incorporate 3D-rendering polygons instead of 2D sprites, using more powerful processors to enable this new technology. This shift opened the door for more complex and larger games.
The Consequences of Larger Game Sizes
The large size of modern video games can lead to a host of challenges. For players, the massive sizes can quickly fill up storage space, especially on consoles with limited capacity. Additionally, large game sizes can pose a problem for those with download limits or slow internet speeds.
For developers, the push to create larger and more detailed games can lead to higher development costs and longer development times. It can also potentially limit their audience, as not all players have the resources to download and store these large games.
The Future of Game Sizes
Looking ahead, it's likely that game sizes will continue to grow as technology advances and player expectations rise. However, strategies such as better compression techniques and more efficient use of assets may help mitigate some of the challenges associated with larger game sizes.
In conclusion, the increase in video game sizes is a complex issue with many contributing factors. From the evolution of game art and the rise of 3D graphics to developmental practices and generational shifts, a host of elements play a part in the size of modern games. As we look to the future, understanding these factors and finding ways to address the challenges they present will be crucial for both developers and players alike.