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Digital to overtake physical sales within two years

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Hackers hacking

Digital Distribution – love it or hate it, it’s here to stay. I think I’d like it a lot more if the prices were more competitive, and my internet was faster and more stable. Man, I miss my fiber internet from the Netherlands. The NPD has studied American spending habits, showing huge growth in digital, and EA has something to say about it, too.

According to the NPD report, digital distribution has become more common, with 16% of Americans completely ditching physical media. 36% of the population plays downloaded games on PC, console or handheld. As for preference, respondents were rather split. When physical and digital versions of games are available for the same price, a quarter of respondents said they’d go digital, compared to 30% who would prefer a physical copy – 45% didn’t have a clear preference. I particularly like the fact that digital consumption tends to be impulse purchases:

Most digital players, regardless of device, don’t plan their purchases. They purchase simply when they find something they like. But primary console players do have a greater tendency to purchase at or before the time of release relative to PC players. As more consumers purchase the new consoles (Xbox One, PlayStation 4), we expect to see greater digital spending from digital console gamers as consumers indicated that purchasing these consoles will most likely increase their digital spending.

I know my digital purchases usually go that way. I see something cool on the App store, iTunes or Steam and the funds magically disappear from my account. With console purchases, though, I generally know what I want and pre-order where necessary.

Meanwhile, EA’s COO Peter Moore says that the surge in mobile gaming means that digital revenues should surpass physical game sales within two years. However, Moore believe that the games industry should learn from the music industry and not make the same mistakes during the transition.

[…] The games industry must embrace “creative destruction” – there’s nothing an industry can do to stop a shift in consumer tastes and habits. The most important thing for EA – and much of the industry is headed this way with the digital transition – is that games are becoming live operations. That means they require a massive infrastructure with customer service and global billing.

So, whether individually we like it or not, the reality is that the industry is shifting towards digital. Maybe Microsoft was right – maybe we are all just behind the times and digital is the future. Meanwhile, I’ll just keep fighting the good fight to one day get decent internet so that digital distribution isn’t such a pain.

Last Updated: February 21, 2014

65 Comments

  1. El Capitan del Blade

    February 21, 2014 at 09:24

    And On That note… I’mg Going To Steam To buy that Might and Magic Pack thing…http://store.steampowered.com/sub/38904/

    Ubisoft weekend…

    Reply

    • Alien Emperor Trevor

      February 21, 2014 at 09:31

      That’s a nice pack. The combat in Dark Messiah is what I hoped they’d bring to Skyrim, but no :/

      Reply

      • El Capitan del Blade

        February 21, 2014 at 09:36

        Yeah…. But If I recall Dark Messiah was built in Source Engine… Zeno Clash as well, Now that Also had some SATISFYING melee combat!

        Reply

  2. RinceandLeSIGH

    February 21, 2014 at 09:26

    Hate to say it, but I agree. It is going this way. It’s good for the environment blah blah but not so much for the friendly okies at places like BT games and the like. I want a croissant with my coffee dammit.

    Reply

    • General JJ the ashamed

      February 21, 2014 at 09:28

      Only times when I think I’d still buy physical copies is for LE’s and cool useless stuff you get with it.

      Reply

      • Alien Emperor Trevor

        February 21, 2014 at 09:37

        I’ve noticed you’re starting to get less in those too, or else they’re some crazy price.

        Reply

        • General JJ the ashamed

          February 21, 2014 at 09:39

          I’ve also noticed. They’re costing so damn much these days and then you get a keyring instead of a figurine.

          Reply

    • Alien Emperor Trevor

      February 21, 2014 at 09:28

      Here you go – enjoy πŸ™‚ Nom nom nom.

      Reply

      • RinceandLeSIGH

        February 21, 2014 at 09:29

        Nice! I managed to con a colleague into buying me one at 1030. WINNER! πŸ™‚

        Reply

        • Alien Emperor Trevor

          February 21, 2014 at 09:33

          You’d be a winner if you conned them into buying it NOW.

          Reply

          • RinceandLeSIGH

            February 21, 2014 at 09:37

            There is just no pleasing you! NEVA! *sobs

          • Alien Emperor Trevor

            February 21, 2014 at 09:38

            Welcome to the real world kiddo πŸ˜›

          • RinceandLeSIGH

            February 21, 2014 at 09:43

            The real world is a lie!

          • Alien Emperor Trevor

            February 21, 2014 at 09:47

            Your face is a lie!

          • RinceandLeSIGH

            February 21, 2014 at 09:49

            What do you mean? 0O

          • Alien Emperor Trevor

            February 21, 2014 at 10:11

            Sies. This is a family site.

          • RinceandLeSIGH

            February 21, 2014 at 10:13

            That is from the ending of FF8!

          • Alien Emperor Trevor

            February 21, 2014 at 10:22

            I fell asleep 30 minutes into the ending ;P

      • jac7

        February 21, 2014 at 09:58

        Sweet, that’s the Bone ship from Alien and Prometheus πŸ™‚

        Reply

        • Alien Emperor Trevor

          February 21, 2014 at 10:02

          lol

          Reply

  3. Alien Emperor Trevor

    February 21, 2014 at 09:27

    You know what’s not a “live operation”? An SP game.

    Reply

  4. General JJ the ashamed

    February 21, 2014 at 09:27

    I can’t remember the last time I bought a physical game.

    Reply

    • Alien Emperor Trevor

      February 21, 2014 at 09:29

      Borderlands 2. The last game I preordered as well.

      Reply

      • Her Highness the Hipster

        February 21, 2014 at 09:50

        i’ve pre-ordered the collector’s edition of Dark Souls 2 for a present. if i’m gonna buy physical, it has to be extra pretty

        Reply

        • RinceandLeSIGH

          February 21, 2014 at 10:06

          It’s frigging R1399 though!

          Reply

          • Alien Emperor Trevor

            February 21, 2014 at 10:10

            Exactly. No thanks. That’s my petrol for the month, for now anyway.

          • General JJ the ashamed

            February 21, 2014 at 10:16

            *bows*
            Glad to see some people can still afford petrol.

          • Alien Emperor Trevor

            February 21, 2014 at 10:18

            It’s either that or walk, and I game on a PC so self-propelled walking is out of the question.

          • General JJ the ashamed

            February 21, 2014 at 10:19

            Oh. Self propelled traveling is for hippies!

          • Her Highness the Hipster

            February 21, 2014 at 10:45

            i know, but it’s not for me – it’s a bday present for the love of my life. not sure if that’s good or bad wifing, though πŸ˜›

          • General JJ the ashamed

            February 21, 2014 at 10:53

            Sounds like a win to me.

    • Uberutang

      February 21, 2014 at 09:39

      BF4. Was cheaper (being EA) than on Origin.

      Reply

      • General JJ the ashamed

        February 21, 2014 at 09:40

        BF4 will not be bought by me (being EA). πŸ™‚

        Reply

        • Uberutang

          February 21, 2014 at 09:41

          LOL. I have had surprisingly few issues with the game so far. πŸ˜› One of the lucky ones.

          Reply

  5. Laby

    February 21, 2014 at 09:30

    This is just a act so people can stop from piracy and selling second hand games. If they make proper games they won’t loose so much money.

    Reply

    • Uberutang

      February 21, 2014 at 09:39

      Stop 2nd hand games yes. Piracy? Nope.

      Reply

      • Laby

        February 21, 2014 at 11:05

        and I love my physical copy, how does one show off your games when it’s digital having a rack full of games actually makes some fine art in my room.

        Reply

  6. Uberutang

    February 21, 2014 at 09:42

    Other than console games, I suspect all other gaming is all ready digital? PC is mostly digital. Mobile is all digital. Just the consoles still hanging on to physical media (probably due to silly digital prices and resale factor).

    Reply

    • coip

      February 21, 2014 at 10:34

      Microsoft tried to change that, which would’ve been awesome, but people freaked the eff out and now digital console gamers are getting screwed over.

      Reply

  7. RinceandLeSIGH

    February 21, 2014 at 09:43

    Still prefer the ol brick and mortar. Nice to see the games on ones shelf.

    Reply

    • Uberutang

      February 21, 2014 at 09:44

      • RinceandLeSIGH

        February 21, 2014 at 09:50

        I still like cracking open the case, and smelling that fresh Korean sweatshop air escape 0_O

        Reply

      • Alien Emperor Trevor

        February 21, 2014 at 09:58

        Nice. I’ve finished 17 of those πŸ˜€

        Reply

        • General JJ the ashamed

          February 21, 2014 at 10:22

          11

          Reply

        • Admiral Chief in Vegas

          February 21, 2014 at 10:34

          Liar, you cannot FINISH Dota πŸ˜›

          Reply

          • Alien Emperor Trevor

            February 21, 2014 at 10:40

            I haven’t played DOTA. πŸ˜›

  8. Umar Reborn

    February 21, 2014 at 09:44

    A while ago I would’ve protested to this…but in all honesty, digital games have really made my life easier , especially for games you can’t find on the shelve anymore not to mention the price of some of these games are much cheaper

    Reply

    • Uberutang

      February 21, 2014 at 09:45

      Try and find a physical copy of Crysis 3 for PC. Not possible.

      Reply

      • Umar Reborn

        February 21, 2014 at 09:46

        Which is why, I don’t mind this. I do however protest to games being online all the time

        Reply

        • Uberutang

          February 21, 2014 at 09:47

          Most systems can be set to go offline. And if not there are always ways to make it work. πŸ™‚

          Reply

  9. Ottokie

    February 21, 2014 at 09:45

    As South Africa moves to faster and faster ADSL lines, digital has really become my “go to” option but I really start to miss that feeling you get when you lean back and check out all the games boxes on your shelf and have a nostalgia overload πŸ™‚

    Reply

  10. Admiral Chief in Vegas

    February 21, 2014 at 09:59

    I recently picked up my first physical copy in over a year (dmc and resi4 combopack for R20)

    STEEEEEEEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAMMMMMMMMMMMM for the rest

    Reply

    • General JJ the ashamed

      February 21, 2014 at 10:17

      I didn’t quite catch what it was for the rest?

      Reply

  11. Ryanza

    February 21, 2014 at 10:00

    There is no way that digital downloads of video games will be my preferred option. Well if i had a really cheap 100MBps line but that will never happen, in my life time at least.

    I buy the game, I install the game, I play the game or I buy the game, I put game into console, I play the game. Why would I give that up for waiting days for a game to download.

    The only time I buy digital games is when a game is old and really cheap.

    Do not push for digital only media.

    Reply

    • Uberutang

      February 21, 2014 at 10:03

      Does not take ‘days’. Even 50 gig games only take a day at most on 10mb. And 99% of the time you can pre-load a few days in advance, so by the time the game ‘releases’ it is waiting on your HDD for you, ready to play, fully patched.

      Reply

      • Admiral Chief in Vegas

        February 21, 2014 at 10:11

        Hear hear!

        Reply

      • Ryanza

        February 21, 2014 at 10:18

        1st of all the whole South Africa is not connected to cheap 10mbps lines
        2nd you mentioned 1 day of downloading
        3rd every1 doesn’t pre order games or buy on release day.
        4th new digital games are still expensive for no reason.

        Reply

  12. coip

    February 21, 2014 at 10:19

    With the ability to hot swap between apps and games on the Xbox One (“Xbox, go to Dead Rising 3. Xbox, go to Killer Instinct”), I’ll never buy another disc-based game again. It’s just too convenient not to have to fuddle around with discs.

    Reply

    • General JJ the ashamed

      February 21, 2014 at 10:20

      Don’t know why someone hasn’t come up with something so cool earlier.
      *presses alt-tab*

      Reply

      • coip

        February 21, 2014 at 10:25

        Clearly I’m talking about console gaming, but regardless, the Kinect 2’s voice commands are still faster in many situations than any version of “alt-tab”. Say I’m in the middle of a game and need to call my mom. I can simply say, “Xbox, Skype Mom” and instantly it is dialing my mom. In contrast, without that voice command, one would have to exit or minimize the game, locate Skype, open it up, locate the contacts list, open it up, locate Mom, click on her, select video call, select dial. That’s a lot of extra work and time. I’ll take voice commands instead. Much more convenient.

        Reply

        • General JJ the ashamed

          February 21, 2014 at 10:29

          I’m having my first good day in two weeks. Just joking around. The functions of the Xbone do seem really cool though, I must admit.

          And here I thought most console gamers would just call out to their mom who’s sitting in the other room. πŸ˜‰

          Reply

  13. Unavengedavo

    February 21, 2014 at 10:25

    Hackers was an awesome movie back in the day… Watched it again the other day and was like, what is this shit? Strange how your view changes after a couple of years :/

    Reply

    • Her Highness the Hipster

      February 21, 2014 at 17:04

      don’t tell me that! hackers and gia were the movies that gave me SUCH a crush on angelina jolie

      Reply

  14. Devon Stanton

    February 21, 2014 at 13:03

    This might be true for international sales, but I think South Africa is a little further behind in this regard. I still believe that the majority of game purchases are done on impulse by mainstream/casual players who notice a game in a store while at the mall. Also with our current broadband limitations it makes it difficult to warrant downloading 20gb of a game.

    I do believe a more prominent day of digital purchasing will come but I think it’ll be a few more years for South Africa and many other emerging markets. Digital cost on games will always be more-or-less the same to keep in-line with brick and mortar stores as they’re still needed. It’s going to be an interesting time I think the world is needing to change strategies for online (not just the gaming industry)

    Reply

  15. UltimateNinjaPandaDudeGuy

    February 21, 2014 at 13:11

    Physical will be for limited/collectors editions really. It still feels awesome to hold the box, but with 245 Steam games I am pretty much switched over to digital.

    Reply

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