The Era of 100GB Games: Get your SSDs Ready

Games are our friends. In the catalog of life’s numerous stressors—financial matters, health concerns, societal inequalities, and the anxiety of not knowing whether you still have eggs left at home before grocery shopping—the available space on my SSD holds an unexpected prominence. The advent of a new, sizable game installation feels like a punch in the gut. Each passing week brings me a few dozen gigabytes closer to the inevitable purge. Do I really plan on playing Ready or Not with my buddy again? That’s 92GB that could be reserved for Diablo 4 next month.

It’s striking how the size of a download can directly influence my decision to play a game. I’ve contemplated giving Atomic Heart on Game Pass a shot since February. I’ve initiated the 90GB download thrice, only to cancel it each time and opt for another activity.

This is a behavior I can’t recall ever indulging in a decade ago. Even with a slower internet connection back then, high-profile games were on average, 5-10 times smaller.

Therefore, the desire to maintain a game installation for as long as feasible is understandable. Uninstalling a massive game feels like packing it away in a box, wrapping it up, and storing it in the attic—accessible, but will you really reach for it? The ballooning game file sizes, growing number of ever-updating free-to-play games, and stagnant download speeds only amplify this inconvenience. Judging by the first half of 2023, game downloads are not going to get any smaller soon.

New 100GB Games

This year, 2023, has already started to stretch our SSDs to their limits. Titles like Star Wars Jedi: Survivor, Forspoken, Redfall, The Last of Us Part 1, Atomic Heart, Diablo 4, Wild Hearts, Hogwarts Legacy, RE4 Remake, and Dead Island 2 range from 45GB to 130GB.

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It’s evident that we’ve entered an era where 100GB games are the norm. Not long ago, it was breaking news when a game hit the 100GB mark, but in 2023, six of the ten biggest PC games so far are in the 90-130GB range. Coincidentally, almost all of these are expansive sandbox games. With these sizes, impromptu gaming sessions have practically become a thing of the past. According to Steam, the average American downloads games at about 12MB per second, which equates to over a 3-hour download for Star Wars Jedi: Survivor, the current biggest game of 2023. And it’s even worse for those at the lower end of this average.

Not forgetting those who have to contend with data caps. My Windows data usage report states that I’ve consumed 255GB on Steam alone this month. Add in weekly hours of TV, movie streaming, or watching friends stream their gameplay on Discord, and the gigabytes accumulate quickly.

Despite games being larger than ever, we’ve adapted to managing our storage. I’m fortunate to have a generous 2TB SSD, with Star Wars taking up a mere 6% of it. A recent Steam hardware survey reveals that just over half of Steam users have 1TB of storage or less.

In perspective: for an average PC gamer who recently purchased Jedi: Survivor, tried out Redfall on Game Pass the following week and plans to play Diablo 4 Server Slam beta over the weekend, that’s about one-third of your entire PC storage consumed (or even more considering the gigabytes your boot drive reserves).

Though the numbers may seem daunting, we’ve become proficient at navigating our colossal gaming future. The same Steam survey also indicated that about 30% of users had between 250-750GB of free storage on their computers at the time. It’s also beneficial that Steam has facilitated mass deletion with the introduction of the storage manager in 2021.

Thankfully, the growth of multiplayer games appears to be at a standstill for the moment. I’m not overly concerned about the increasing size of games I’ve finished, as they’ll inevitably be uninstalled. However, the storage footprint of multiplayer games, which I rarely delete, is a different story.

There was a time when the file sizes of multiplayer games seemed to be spiraling out of control. I recall raising a red flag in 2020 when Call of Duty, which had also evolved into Warzone, bloated into an alarming 200GB monster. Fortunately, Activision intervened, later that year, introducing the option to uninstall specific sections of Call of Duty that you’re no longer playing.

A few popular shooters, like Destiny 2, CoD, and Rainbow Six, still have uncomfortably large sizes, but it’s reassuring to see that they’ve actually been larger in the past and have since been reduced:

  • Destiny 2 – 105GB
  • Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 + Warzone 2 – 98GB
  • Final Fantasy 14 – 80GB
  • Rainbow Six Siege – 80GB
  • Battlefield 2042 – 75GB
  • Apex Legends – 60GB
  • Dota 2 – 46GB
  • Hunt: Showdown – 45GB
  • Halo Infinite – 45GB
  • PUBG – 32.5GB
  • Valorant – 32GB
  • Fortnite – 32GB
  • CS:GO – 30GB
  • League of Legends – 22GB

These figures are manageable. The bottom four games on that list equate to less than a single Forspoken download. It’s encouraging to see developers prioritizing game size, likely because they’ve recognized how an inconveniently large download can deter new players.

However, keep a lookout for potential data hog games in the latter half of 2023. Assassin’s Creed Mirage is expected to be hefty, even though it’s reported to have a smaller world than its predecessors, Valhalla and Odyssey. Stalker 2, with its visually impressive trailers, could be an unexpected triple-digit file size, although we might have to wait longer for that one. I’m intrigued to see the size of Starfield; Bethesda Game Studios’ last release was Fallout 4 in 2015, a reasonably light 27GB download today (without expansions), so it might surprise us.

Baldur’s Gate 3 is another one to watch. The current early access build already occupies 103GB, and the official system requirements suggest the final game will be 150GB. That’s a bit daunting.

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