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The Carbon Footprint of Games Distribution

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Part of the Palgrave Studies in Media and Environmental Communication book series (PSMEC)

Abstract

In this chapter the emissions of the two most prevalent distribution methods for games are compared, looking at traditional disc-based distribution and digital downloads. Existing lifecycle assessments of physical disc-based games distribution are discussed for their implications for a carbon neutral games industry, however these studies only estimate figures for European locations. To this the chapter adds an estimate of the emissions of shipping discs to a country like Australia, completely on the other side of the planet from where PlayStation discs are manufactured. The chapter then considers the main alternative distribution method, looking at the emissions of digital distribution and the complexities introduced by estimation and variability based on regional emissions factors. Given the difficulty in achieving carbon neutrality in transport emissions, I argue that the current disc-based distribution system may ultimately prove untenable and the industry will likely need to transition to fully digital distribution. This only makes sense, however, if the global transition to renewables accelerates to make this a completely carbon-neutral method of distribution. When considered from the perspective of the ultimate goal of a carbon neutral games industry, the future of distribution will almost certainly be digital.

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  • DOI: 10.1007/978-3-030-91705-0_5
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References

Games

  • FromSoftware, Inc. (2016). Dark Souls 3. FromSoftware and Bandai Namco Entertainment.

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  • Square Enix Business Division 1. (2020). Final Fantasy VII Remake. Square Enix.

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Correspondence to Benjamin J. Abraham .

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Abraham, B.J. (2022). The Carbon Footprint of Games Distribution. In: Digital Games After Climate Change. Palgrave Studies in Media and Environmental Communication. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-91705-0_5

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