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US digital games market surpasses $1 Billion in April

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Digital games are the future of the industry. While I don’t think retail will ever totally disappear, digital will continue to grow and the industry will have to change if retailers and distributors are going to survive. South Africa still has a while before this shift is as powerful as it is in America, where apparently digital sales are breaking records all the time.

According to the people at Super Data, US digital sales grew from $0.96B to $1.1B in April. This represents a 15% growth compared to the same month last year.

In line with earlier expectations, the social games market further declined as the average spending per paying user dropped below $40 for the first time in over six months. Mobile broke a new record with more than 147 million Americans playing games on their smartphones or tablets in April, allowing monthly revenue to reach $380 million, up 13% from the same month last year. Pay-to-play MMO games showed a decline, too, as the overall US subscriber base dropped 18% since its peak late last year. Finally, the long-awaited release of the PC version for Grand Theft Whale Auto V (NASDAQ: TTWO) improved the overall PC DLC market, selling 441k copies in the United States.

While social games aren’t raking in as much money, mobile users just keep on rising. What I’m amazed by is the fact that even with an 18% drop in MMO gaming since the peak last year, digital games are still climbing. It’s not just about WoW subscriptions – GTA V on PC sold ridiculously well and helped make a ton of digital monies. It makes sense that this would have a particular impact on digital; it seems pretty common and predictable that PC gamers would get their new titles through Steam or other digital platforms rather than buy discs at retail. That’s been the status quo for a long time, but when a title of that size gets released, it’s bound to send digital sales to record highs.

Having been in the US of A for a bit lately, I’m struck by just how omni-present high speed internet is. Even in the supermarket or other free wifi areas, there’s high speed internet for all. South Africa is slowly catching up, but not fast enough for everyone to go fully digital just yet. Besides, some games are better physical, especially if you buy a Collector’s Edition.

Last Updated: May 14, 2015

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