With technology like Digital HD and Blu-Ray discs, it seems like DVDs would have died off by now. For people like me, I am actually quite glad DVDs have not gone the way of the dinosaur, and very often, DVDs are still the cheapest option, especially if you find them online, or used in a good condition. And there's something about having a physical copy of your film in your hand and on your shelf. If your computer crashes or your Wi-Fi is on the blink, you can't watch those movies you were hoping to see.
You can't really say that nobody buys DVDs. Even when it seems like that is the case, DVDs have pretty much stayed at a constant price of $19.99 or right around that ballpark, at least for many, many years now. If sales were really awful, the price should in effect go down, like the VHS did when DVDs came along. Many people, who do want their film to look good when they watch it, don't necessarily need it to look pristine or be a holographic heavenly experience for the eyes. There was a bigger difference between VHS and DVD appearance than there is between Bllu-Ray and DVD. Sure, a Blu-Ray might be an improvement on a DVD, but if you are satisfied with good, clear cut picture, a DVD will suffice and will not disappoint.
Originally, I felt called to write an article about why DVDs should keep coming, and how they should not go away. However, it came to me that one possible reason people do not buy DVDs as much anymore is just that... they're not quite as cool anymore. And unfortunately, that seems like that's way things are going to stay.
Let's talk about the design of the discs themselves first. For a long, long time when DVDs first hit those store shelves, the design of the discs was really pleasant to look at. The disc said the obvious name of the film on it, but there was usually some color or imagery design imprinted on the disc. Over the last five or six years or so however, the disc itself has really become quite boring looking. The title is thankfully still imprinted on the disc, but it's usually small, and even if it's large, the disc is usually a dull gray color, occasionally with an exception of all black or all white. Just look at the difference between a later released DVD copy of Transformers (2007) vs. a 2004 later released DVD copy of Disney's Mulan (1999).
Some could care less about the disc itself, as long as the movie plays, which is understandable. But think about the price you are paying for it. Don't you want it to look nice? Plus, those plain gray discs once you acquire enough of them are quite easy to mix up. It looked nice before, why not now? It seems like while technology is getting better and better, the design of a product like a DVD is getting kicked to the curb. Even the Blu-Ray is usually a plain blue disc with the title of the film on it.
Now let's address the topic of special features. I was at Target the other day and thought I would pick up a copy of the recent release of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016). I picked up a copy of the DVD and noticed to my dismay that there were ZERO features on the DVD. What kind of bogus is that? I noticed the same thing when I picked up a copy of Star Trek Beyond (2016) last Christmas. Now you might be saying, well that's because the Blu-Rays have all of the features now. While that is true, DVDs used to have many features included on the set. We used to get 2-Disc DVDs! Remember those days? Very, very rarely, we will still get these, maybe once a year if that (films like Sully (2016) and The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (2014) had these packages). DVD collectors and movie fans loved the special edition versions of the DVDs. We eventually said goodbye to these special editions, and that was at least tolerable, because even when the DVD just included one disc, you usually had a fair number of features to choose from. Over the past couple of years the size of the bonus material started dwindling. There is usually just one solitary feature now, occasionally two. But with these recent releases of Star Wars and Star Trek, we apparently are lucky if we get ANY anymore! Is that the new trend?
Finally, the overall DVD package. Remember those inserts we used to get inside the DVD? What happened to those? For many years DVDs contained a little booklet or page that showed the movie title, and usually listed the scenes or special features on the back as well. Those haven't been seen in ages; now in place of those, we just get little ads (which we had gotten before). Now it is an achievement if we even get those; usually now it is just the disc and nothing else. We don't need a thirty-page insert, just a page to show us what we're dealing with. The compact, secure case that contained these things has drastically declined in quality as well. The case is very flimsy now, with huge recycling signs inside that allow dents to puncture the front and back, emphasizing that these cases were made out of recycled materials. Why not use more of those recycled materials to make a sturdy case? In the DVD manufacturing attempt to save money, they again are sacrificing quality.
Even if you are not the biggest DVD fan, you can appreciate some of the issues here. We all want a good product, don't we? DVD and movie fans miss those special features, and the quality of the DVD and case itself. It stands to reason that now you have to pay more for the Blu-Ray to actually get those special features; that's the way the economy works. Yes, times are changing, but things should be improving if the technology is. Quality should not diminish. We're paying the same amount we used to for far less content and quality. If we can't have the special features or the disc design or the booklet, can we at least have a compact case to keep the scratch-susceptible disc that we paid twenty dollars for safe? For those who miss the good old days of older special edition or two-disc DVDs, some of those movies of the past can thankfully be found used and new on sites like Amazon and Ebay. For DVD releases now and in the future however, those DVD conditions and designs and special features are sadly all but reality. Just look at the Rogue One DVD next time you go to your local movie store.
Thank goodness DVDs say "DVD" at the top now. Nobody had a clue what they were called before...
Can we bring the old DVD back, please?