Once upon a time, it took months upon months after a season of Game of Thrones aired for it to arrive on DVD and Blu-ray. Season 1, for instance, aired in April of 2011 but didn't come out for purchase until March of 2012. It wasn't until HBO began taking measures to combat piracy with Season 5 that the early release "Digital Downloads" began, though in 2015 it was still three months between the June finale and the Aug. 31 release. Nowadays, fans don't even have to wait two weeks. The Game Of Thrones Digital Download is already here, as well as the first special features.
One should note, this is not the DVD or the Blu-ray box set for the final season, both of which HBO has taken to releasing far closer to the holidays for purchase. Those are the ones with the commentaries, the deleted scenes, the bloopers, and so forth. Meanwhile, the "History and Lore" pieces that deep dive into parts of George R.R. Martin's novels are usually the exclusive domain of the Blu-ray versions of the show.
Also, this is not the Seasons 1-8 mega box set, which has a promised "cast reunion" including everyone from Season 1's Sean Bean to those who survived Season 8.
But the Digital Download does have some special features, ones that give a taste of what's to come on the more expansive versions to come. Here's a synopsis:
- Game of Thrones: The Last Watch The documentary that closed out the final Game of Thrones season is included with the Digital Download purchase.
- Game of Thrones: The Final Season: Join the cast and crew of Game of Thrones as they reflect on the final season of HBO’s epic, Emmy(R)-winning series. Interviews include showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, along with stars Peter Dinklage, Emilia Clarke, Lena Headey, Kit Harington, and many others.
- The Long Night: “The Long Night” indeed. Join Game of Thrones showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss along with many of the major stars and behind-the-scenes players as they look back at the colossal filming that was the Battle of Winterfell in Season 8, Episode 3. This special spotlights the weaponry, lighting, special effects, and more that went into the making of this unforgettable episode.
Big deep dives into the series finale may be missing from this first run of special features. Unlike the other five episodes this season, neither the showrunners nor the cast did a sit down with HBO for an Inside the Episode or a Game Revealed look at the choices the characters made, or tidbits about what went into making those final scenes.
At the time, that's seemed like a deliberate "let the audience sit with the ending" choice, one the home releases would eventually rectify. But no such luck here, unless the interviews as part of The Final Season will cover those. Otherwise, it looks like fans will have to settle for the Digital Download mostly acting as a way to watch the final season over and over again, and wait to see what the DVD and Blu-rays hold.