Digital Sales Now Represent 74% of the US Game Market

Discussion in '[H]ard|OCP Front Page News' started by Megalith, Apr 20, 2017.

  1. Megalith

    Megalith 24-bit/48kHz Staff Member

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    The latest figures from NPD and the ESA reveal that digital game sales are crushing boxed game sales in the US. Included are full-game digital downloads, subscriptions to services (e.g., Xbox Live and PSN), DLC, and mobile app downloads. I don’t think digital-only consoles are coming any time soon, but these statistics certainly make a case for them. Now, if only publishers weren’t so anal about the prices of downloadable games…

    While physical format sales are steadily declining, the total picture for the US games industry is actually quite positive, with overall sales climbing each year since 2010, when the industry totaled $17.5 billion. In 2016, the total spend on games content was $24.5 billion and if you factor in hardware, accessories and VR, that figure rises to $30.4 billion. Digital has been accounting for a bigger and bigger portion of the sales total each year, and in 2016 that portion was 74%, including full game digital downloads, subscriptions, DLC, mobile and social.
     
  2. NickJames

    NickJames Viagra Required

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    Aside from being tax free, most of the time I can get a digital copy of the game for 20% off or more at launch thanks to places like GreenManGaming or Nvidia keys. There's just no incentive to buying retail other than collectors edition crap.
     
  3. Shagittarius

    Shagittarius n00bie

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    This is what happens when you stop selling software in a box. I'm speaking from the PC side. If most games still came in boxes, contained a physical product, and were not worthless without an additional download from a DRM service I believe many more people would still prefer a physical copy.
     
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  4. Pusher of Buttons

    Pusher of Buttons [H]ard|Gawd

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    Once the massive Day 1 updates started being norm just to be playable the benefit of having a physical copy became irrelevant. I haven't personally bought a physical copy of anything since Mass Effect 2....really the only time I have them anymore is a gift from family.
     
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  5. plupien79

    plupien79 Limp Gawd

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    On consoles. I buy digital. I hate having to change disks, ESP since all the games need to be installed on the HDD anyway.
     
  6. Merc1138

    Merc1138 [H]ard|Gawd

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    Even if we ignore the DRM and the 5GB day 1 patches that are required sometimes for the games to even be playable, attempting to switch back to software in a box just wouldn't work at this point.

    That 50+GB game? Publishers aren't going to want to ship games on 5 or 6 DVDs, and most customers aren't going to want to be juggling discs for an installation either.

    They could use blu-ray at 50GB a disc but... how many people actually bought a blu-ray drive for their PC? And sure even up to quad layer blu-ray at 128GB a disc exists, but that requires a BDXL drive, even less people bought those. You'd have a hard time even convincing 10% of the market to go run out and buy a $50 blu-ray drive, let alone a $100 BDXL drive for quad layer blu-ray media. By that point the publishers might as well just use a 64GB or larger flash drive instead, and if they're going to go that far to have a read only flash drive... why bother?
     
  7. Hypergreatthing

    Hypergreatthing [H]ard|Gawd

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    a year ago i got a game in a physical box that was basically just a steam installer.
    Most recently, i bought a game (andromeda) that didn't even have a dvd. It was just a card with a origin code.

    Why the hell buy physical things it's it's just going to come as a digital format anyways?

    I just look for the best deals. If amazon will give me a 20% discount in a physical format (which is just a card with a code) then i'll get that. Who cares if there's a plastic box or not?
     
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  8. Armenius

    Armenius [H]ardForum Junkie

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    Microsoft is distributing retail Windows on USB drives, now. What is the difference between a read-only disc and a read-only flash drive? Why would you want to overwrite the product you paid for, anyway? USB drives are the logical progression for distributing software on physical media.
     
  9. Merc1138

    Merc1138 [H]ard|Gawd

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    For $30-$60 games? Not really. Windows OS images are not 30+ GB either, in addition to the cost for the consumer making the purchase generally being higher. As it is, the $60 retail price for a "AAA" game purchase hasn't changed since the early 90s(there were a couple SNES era games that hit stores at $70, and I'm not talking about things like the superscope) against inflation that would otherwise drive that north of $100, while development and marketing budgets have gone through the roof by comparison(this is part of the reason so many publishers jumped on the bandwagon for microtransactions and such, not the only reason but part of it). Yes, total game sales have also shot way up over time along with inflation but... the development and marketing budgets are an investment meaning the whole thing as it is, is a risk and that's why AAA titles are generally "safe" like hollywood movies, because they'll only throw that money at something with a much higher chance of making a return on that investment.

    You're also forgetting that I said even getting to that point requires ignoring the DRM and the massive day 1 patches that have effectively made installing from physical media on day 1 utterly pointless.

    Furthermore(back to the OS bit), unlike a game, you are not installing the thing required to allow you to download it. As in, you've already got your OS installed so a digital only copy of Windows with no media to install it from means a consumer will either need to make that media on another PC(which isn't always an option for some home users) or would need something to get the PC to boot, and then be able to download and install the digitally distributed installer. Most people are not going to want to screw around with PXE booting to do that.
     
  10. katanaD

    katanaD [H]Lite

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    one of the biggest issues preventing me from buying a boxed PC game is where would i go to find them? I kinda miss being able to go into a store and browse games. sometimes i would come across something i would have never looked at before. since now all PC game buying is online, might as well as download it online as well. and so I use steam, which is great. but i would love to be able to walk into a store again and browse. now any game store is nothing but consoles
     
  11. Wizard220

    Wizard220 Limp Gawd

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    Last physical game I bought was Call of Duty 5 World at War and the last Crysis game. I have almost completed the conversion to all digital format, aka, re-buying on steam. I only have left to do is the first 5 Call of Duty games. I am not a box collector, I just prefer a digital copy.
     
  12. otherweeb

    otherweeb Limp Gawd

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    Poor little whippersnappers will never know the glory when EVERY game was a deluxe edition because it came with a full color printed manual, poster size maps and/or artwork and bonus content.

    I've got an original of 'Star Control' where the DRM was a cardstock decoder wheel!
     
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  13. jeremyshaw

    jeremyshaw [H]ardForum Junkie

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    Yeah, I only keep around a couple of physical copies somewhere in storage, simply because it was once useful to verify my Steam account after it was stolen. That was years ago, though.
     
  14. Sovereign

    Sovereign 2[H]4U

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    BUT PIRACY!

    What killed physical game sales was easy, legal digital (all hail Steam--then immediately flip off Valve's customer service).
     
  15. tetris42

    tetris42 2[H]4U

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    You to go to Europe. In many stores, PC gaming is as big as console titles combined, they have lots of boxed copies. Of course there's no guarantee you won't ALSO need a steam account to play it. Steam really took over almost the whole market since nobody else was doing a damn thing on that front for years on end.
     
  16. Danny Dawg

    Danny Dawg [H]ard|Gawd

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    Yep . . .and if the damn game worked right on day one .. . .there would be many happy campers.
     
  17. Krab

    Krab Limp Gawd

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    There's no point buying a physical copy if you have to immediately connect to the internet and download/unlock several gigs worth of crap.

    Yeah isn't it amazing what happens when you actually give the market what it wants?

    Music, Movie and TV Industry? Are you there?
     
  18. rudy

    rudy [H]ardness Supreme

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    This isn't even about PC games, we moved to digital years ago, the same is true with phone applications all digital from the start. What we are seeing is the mass shift of console players to accepting online purchases. All that is left is for kids who buy from retailers to finally be able to buy their own games online somehow and its over for retail gaming.

    I personally always by digital if all things are equal, in some cases I buy digital even when it cost more just to have it faster. off the top of my head the only time I buy boxed stuff now is when it is cheaper. I actually paid for an office 365 1 years subscription on amazon prime, had it shipped to me 2 day and then entered it into my computer lol. I was thinking what a waste of time, gas, and so on just because for some reason someone could sell that cheaper than MS would sell online.

    The only reason packaging still exists is to catch luddites or people who are browsing in stores. The companies need to make the product to give best buy something to push and make money off of.
     
  19. chenw

    chenw 2[H]4U

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    Physical media made sense on consoles since they were often traded in as second hand games. PC games never had a history of second hand market like consoles, and transfer of ownership is harder due to the numerous number of activations of the game per CD-key or what have you. So without being able to resell your game, there isn't any benefit for a physical copy other than for collection purposes, literally, since even if you lose access to the CDs data due to bitrot or whatever, there is probably a CD image hidden somewhere on the net and you can download it. By doing that, you effectively digitised your game.

    Also, with people moving around the world these days, it might not be as easy to buy physical games in your native language, digital becomes your primary platform in that case as, due to its nature, they tend to offer multiple language as options right off the bat, something not always guaranteed for physicals, or if it does, you will have to download it, which is again, digitised.

    Our distribution methods have become extremely reliant on the net in general that the only thing that keeps physical copies surviving are the publisher's own choices.

    One can argue that Digital platforms will only last as long as the service is in tact, but physical copies also only last as long as your physical access to the copy is intact. A major house fire would not automatically lose your access to your steam account if you have it memorized, but you will no longer play from a burnt physical media for example.
     
  20. tetris42

    tetris42 2[H]4U

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    I'd say that's a little unfair, there are plenty of regions globally (especially in more rural areas in the US) where the internet is garbage and the thought of downloading a 25GB game due to speeds, bandwidth caps, or both is unthinkable. You're only being a luddite if you refuse to use newer technology. If internet providers decide you're not cost effective to them, then the technology refuses to come to you. This is the one of the few legitimate reasons left for having physical copies, for some people, that's the only way they can get a game.
     
  21. rudy

    rudy [H]ardness Supreme

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    I would agree with you if it were not so common for disks to come incomplete, with huge day one downloads, the need to be connected, or sometimes nothing but a key in the packaging. If the point was to serve people with slow or non existent internet they wouldn't be doing these things.
     
  22. Comixbooks

    Comixbooks Ignore Me

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    It's become obsolete because you can overhaul a game easier by patching and scraping a previous build.