Home Gaming As digital revenue continues to rise, could we see consoles go disc-less?

As digital revenue continues to rise, could we see consoles go disc-less?

3 min read
28

=PlayDisc

Remember a few years back when the Xbox One was announced, but it had to “check in” each day online, making us think the console would be purely online oriented? Geez we were all outraged. However, just a few years later, infrastructure continues to improve and purely online multiplayer games can be incredibly popular, not just on PC but also on console. In fact, digital revenue just keeps climbing, but PwC has made some interesting predictions about what we’ll see by 2020, and I’m wondering if maybe Microsoft was just a bit ahead of their times.

According to PwC, digital revenue will continue to rise, but that doesn’t mean we’ll see discs disappear from the market.

he largest component is physical console games sell-through revenue, which was already in decline in 2015, and that decline is accelerating as viable subscription and digital offerings become more compelling.

Revenues declined from US$7.60bn in 2015 to US$6.23bn in 2020 (at a -3.9% CAGR). In some ways it’s surprising that physical game disks will continue to be a major force by 2020, but the US has one of the most mature console markets globally, supported by a good retail presence (including Gamestop and Best Buy), pre-order offers and – most importantly – a vibrant second-hand trading market. While this last element does not directly contribute to revenue, it makes new games appear more affordable if consumers can count on getting some money back on trade-in.

So physical game sales are declining, but retail is still so important? I wonder how long that will last, especially if subscription plans are becoming the new norm. Essentially, a season pass is like a subscription to a game that you enjoy. You like Call of Duty, so you subscribe for future DLC. Imagine if publishers actually just let you subscribe for all their games?

The shift towards games as services has been going on for a while now, and I’m not sure I would be totally averse to paying a monthly or annual fee to have access to a wide selections of old and new games. Imagine an Ubisoft subscription that let you play as many Assassin’s Creed games (with all DLC), The Division, Rainbow Six, and Ghost Recon? As new games get released, they could be simply added to your online library? Sure, then you might get games you’ll never play, or you might be paying for a subscription for a year when there are months without new releases, but it’s a compelling model and one I wouldn’t be surprised to see in the coming years.

Yes, retail is important, particularly for more casual gamers who only buy one or two games a year, but I’m sure publishers prefer to have direct access to their consumers. As digital downloads continue to increase, I wonder if we’ll see discs fall by the wayside. Already, most people I know only buy physical copies if there’s something extra involved – Collector’s Editions, etc. Does this mean that the new generation of consoles might even have disc-less options? My computer already doesn’t have a disc drive anymore, so could consoles be next?

Then again, my consoles are also my Blu Ray players, so I’d be sad to see that go. Maybe Darryn is right and what was old will be new again, with consoles coming with automatic disc changers so you can switch between titles without having to get up, but while still using physical discs. Or maybe he just still has a CD changer in the back of his scooter.

Last Updated: June 9, 2016

28 Comments

  1. Ottokie

    June 9, 2016 at 10:03

    The only disk I have for my PS4 is the Uncharted collection that came with it. All other games are digital. just much more cheaper.

    And on a side note, both my PS2 and PS3 disk readers died. So going digital on my PS4 will hopefully circumvent that curse πŸ˜›

    Reply

    • Frik van der Hewerskink

      June 9, 2016 at 10:06

      the last couple of years, I just add said game to my steam library with the cd key, and never look at the disc again.

      Reply

    • Captain JJ or is it I&J?

      June 9, 2016 at 10:17

      My drive in my pc is pretty much dead. It doesn’t want to open.

      Reply

      • Ottokie

        June 9, 2016 at 10:18

        Same I need to give it a few flicks with my finger xD

        But it’s the same drive that came with my first PC so its super old since I don’t use it apart from formatting

        Reply

        • Captain JJ or is it I&J?

          June 9, 2016 at 10:19

          Yes, mine has been with me through an upgrade or two. So it’s quite old.

          Reply

      • BakedBagel

        June 9, 2016 at 14:16

        I disconnected my drive for more Harddrive sata cables πŸ˜€

        Reply

        • Captain JJ or is it I&J?

          June 9, 2016 at 14:17

          I should do the same.

          Reply

          • BakedBagel

            June 9, 2016 at 14:18

            It sucks when i buy a physical album.

            Heh got bittorrent tho πŸ˜›

  2. iusedtobe(a)regular

    June 9, 2016 at 10:08

    Will never happen, not everyone is connected and not everyone is uncapped and then of course as mentioned there is the trade in value.

    Reply

  3. Hammersteyn_hates_Raid0

    June 9, 2016 at 10:09

    I’m too lazy to swap discs

    Reply

    • Darren Peach

      June 9, 2016 at 10:10

      You download all your games ?

      Reply

      • Ottokie

        June 9, 2016 at 10:11

        Download the whole internet in 5 seconds πŸ˜›
        https://i.ytimg.com/vi/kTiRKY7pAwg/hqdefault.jpg

        Reply

        • Greylingad[He Charges!]

          June 9, 2016 at 10:13

          I love how that DL rate is that high, with only 36.1MB DL’ed, that is the exact same way they measure P.M.P.O. hi fis…

          Reply

          • Captain JJ or is it I&J?

            June 9, 2016 at 10:17

            Haha. Exactly.

      • Hammersteyn_hates_Raid0

        June 9, 2016 at 10:14

        These days yes, mostly because Indie games don’t come on discs and also because I’ve been using game sharing on PS4

        Reply

        • Darren Peach

          June 9, 2016 at 10:18

          Thats cool. The future is digital. Hear that Telkom ?

          Reply

          • Hammersteyn_hates_Raid0

            June 9, 2016 at 10:18

            XD

  4. Alien Emperor Trevor

    June 9, 2016 at 10:09

    Maybe before they decide, maybe they should figure out just how people use their consoles. Taking away the option for a disc drive isn’t smart.

    Reply

  5. Darren Peach

    June 9, 2016 at 10:11

    This makes my brain hurt. No Fibre.

    Reply

  6. Captain JJ or is it I&J?

    June 9, 2016 at 10:16

    Digital is great, I really do enjoy it, given you have the line and the ability to use it.
    I think discs will one day go the route of vinyl. It’ll become a nice to have, something you buy the CE’s for, when the rest of the games are all digital.

    Reply

  7. Greylingad[He Charges!]

    June 9, 2016 at 10:18

    When you only have 100GB p/m to do DLs, you reserve that data for patches and the occasional end of the month buy or all your indies….

    Reply

    • Captain JJ or is it I&J?

      June 9, 2016 at 10:20

      That’s the thing. Not everyone has uncapped, and even some who do have a “cap” of around 100GB. Games aren’t getting any smaller, so they can’t just take away discs. At least not yet.

      Reply

  8. Milesh Bhana

    June 9, 2016 at 10:26

    i still have a sneaking suspicion that the XBox Slim they’re going to announce at E3 will not have a disc drive.

    Easiest way to know if they market is ready. Have 2 consoles, with a smaller, sleeker and cheaper one without a BR Drive. Then watch the sales numbers.

    Reply

    • Captain JJ or is it I&J?

      June 9, 2016 at 10:28

      I think you’re right

      Reply

  9. HairyEwok

    June 9, 2016 at 10:34

    Remember way back in the day when people said Floppies will never die….

    Reply

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