Why do video game console discs now require installation, when we could just put them in and play instantly before? Why did PC discs always require installation



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Reading from an SSD is much faster than from disc. It also has to unpack textures and other features required to run the game. Things that would not fit on a single 50GB blu-ray. Many games are now 100GB+. Gone are the days when the game was essentially installed on the disc and read.

There are two reasons.

The first reason, which is probably the biggest reason, is that optical disc drives are much slower than hard drives installed in modern consoles — at least about 10 times slower and maybe even worse than that. The data on the disc *may* (see reason 2) actually be all of the data that is needed to play the game. However, it’s on the disc, probably in a substantially compressed form, and the amount of data that needs to be loaded per second to provide modern graphics and interactivity is more data than can be read from the optical disc in real time. So that data has to be copied to the much faster hard drive, and perhaps decompressed, for you to be able to play the game.

The second reason is that the disc itself might not actually contain all of the data required for the game. It’s not unusual for new consoles to basically just use the disc as a tool to distribute a unique license key that lets the console know you’re authorized to download and play a game. You still have to download it and install it, because the only data on the disc is a small amount of data that proves you have the right to do that.

All of the above answers are correct, it is MUCH faster, when running something, to copy it to the local high speed SSD, or even hard drive, than running off of an optical drive.

But, back in the day, when cartridges were used, they were very fast, because they mapped themselves right into the processor bus.

And for PC’s, from VIC-20, up to the original IBM clones, almost all software that could fit on a floppy did, indeed, just run off the floppy.

I had a few games back in the day on PC that could just be played from the disc.
Freddie Fish, baby!