Is there still a need for paperback strategy guides for games?
The internet has seemingly made printed guides irrelevant. Are there any benefits to actually paying the cash for a physical book?
Depends on the game. If it's a particularly complex game, like Diablo2, WoW, Morrowind, etc. Then it might be worth it. Also, keep in mind that some of them might one day be considered collectors items, and you could sell them decades later on ebay for hundreds, maybe thousands of times more than when you first bought them.
When you buy a strategy book, you're not paying for the information so much as the presentation and convenience. You might be able to find all of the same information online, but it will take you a lot longer and will lack the aesthetic appeal of the book. You also don't have to worry so much about the accuracy of the information if it's an official guide.
I think strategy guides are, like Khal Blogo said, primarily collector's items. They fall into the same category as t-shirts, and collectible figurines. Most people don't need them, but there is still a small market for them.
It's been a few years since I've bought a paper guide to a game. Sites like IGN, and individual game wikis have improved the quality of online info for these games, to the point were buying the book would just be for looks really. Often, online searches are faster than flipping through those big books anyway.
As a journalist, I'm sad to see them fall by the wayside though. Growing up, I harbored dreams of growing up to write those things, spending countless hours with advanced copies of the latest game, figuring out every little nook and cranny. It takes real dedication to crank out one of those things.
Paying cash for the hard copies of the books offers more than just the guides. You sometimes get a poster or map with it and if you purchase the same guide online through the publisher you are paying the same price for something you have downloaded and don't get any other extras with it. Also if you are playing a game like Skyrim and need to find out something fast you have to open your laptop (Turn it on) or start up your computer and bring up the guide which will take a few minutes.
If you own the hard copy of the guide you can flip through the pages quickly to find what you are looking for. Plus some of the online guides that you download have a chance to be lost if something happens to your computer and than you would have to go and re-download it. Also if you are playing a game on your PC you aren't going to want to minimize it to load up a guide that might freeze your current game and cause you to lose stuff or start over.
So personally for me I prefer the hard copies for the reasons listed above and
1. You can read the if the power goes out
2. You can skim them fast and easy
3. You don't have to worry about losing any information
4. You own a hard copy!
I've never bought a guide for any game, but you are right that the internet has seemingly made printed guides irrelevant. You can usually find the information you need on any game on the internet, the same information that an expensive guide offers.
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