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Once I've bought a physical copy of a game and activated it on Steam, is there any way I can return/recycle/whatever it? I realise that should I want to re-install the game later the dvd would make it much easier/faster, but I don't think that potential gain balances the pain of having to carry around 20-30 game boxes every time I move (about once a year).

I don't expect there's a lot I can do, as I don't want to give away the games (i.e., I want to keep it on Steam), but just throwing them away seems wasteful, and I don't think anybody would actually pay for a dvd, even dirt cheap, just to make their own installation faster (if that would even work).

Any bright ideas? Anything I can do?

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1  
Grind them into a fine powder. Inhale. –  LessPop_MoreFizz Sep 1 '11 at 5:34

3 Answers 3

up vote 19 down vote accepted
  1. Some people point out that if Steam is ever disbanded, you lose access to all the games you bought from them. If you will still have the physical copies of the games, it wouldn't be an issue. Note that some games require Steam anyway, so with those games the physical media won't help.

  2. If you aren't sentimental about the box, manuals etc., you can throw those away and just keep the DVDs in some designated disk holder - those are very efficiently packed together, I don't really see an issue with space or weight.

  3. If you ever find yourself without Internet access for a prolonged period of time (for instance, if you join a shipping company), single-player games can still be installed from their boxes.

  4. If you trust Steam, have permanent Internet and don't care about your game boxes, then no, there isn't anything good to do with them. If you already have an eBay account you can offer the game boxes there (just don't provide the serial numbers), other than that I wouldn't bother.

  5. If you feel your game will become a classic later on you can hold on to the manuals and sell them again in 15 years for collectors :)

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somehow I don't think the most recent AvP will ever be considered a classic. +1 for the shipping company comment, that made me laugh (oh, and also the helpful comments) –  Alex Aug 31 '11 at 21:21
    
@Alex I'm glad it made you laugh but it actually wasn't a joke - for instance I vaguely remember an old question here from a soldier serving on a ship, who wanted to play Steam games when off-duty :) –  Oak Aug 31 '11 at 21:25
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Regarding your first item: if the game truely requires Steam (as opposed to being available on physical media and Steam separately), then having the physical media won't help with installing (unless you also grab a crack), because those usually require registration on Steam before they can be run. –  Joachim Sauer Sep 1 '11 at 5:54
    
@Joachim this is correct, edited my answer accordingly. –  Oak Sep 1 '11 at 6:16
    
A reasoned approach with advantages and disadvantages, so you get the +15 :) –  Alex Sep 1 '11 at 13:26

The CDs are useless to anyone else from a software installation perspective. If none of Oak's reasons for keeping them are compelling enough, I suggest you dive into the world of recycled materials craft projects. If you do a search or two on Google, you'll see a multitude of ideas ranging from:

Let your imagination run wild!

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those are awesome weights! :) –  Alex Aug 31 '11 at 21:42

Coasters. Miniature cutting boards. Microwave-based light shows.

Really, other than maybe being asked for a picture of it as a proof of purchase, there's no reason to keep your game boxes and physical media once you've added the product key to your Steam account. The product key can only be used once, so it's of no use to anyone else.

If you think about it, the whole concept of distributing digital information by physically shipping around boxes of air containing thin plastic discs is kind of silly.

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...but I already have several dvd coasters <:( –  Alex Aug 31 '11 at 21:22

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