Will digital distribution change E3?

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Welcome to e3

Going to E3 is something of a rite of passage, particularly for gaming journalists. It’s an incredible opportunity to find out all the cool things about upcoming games and get hands on with titles that may only release months down the line. However, it’s not really an event for us – it’s meant to be a trade show, an opportunity for distributors and retailers to figure out what they will need to order in the coming year. But that may be changing.

According to Super Data:

With $979M in May sales, US digital games revenue is up 11% YoY. Overall, US digital games revenues grew 11% compared to the same month last year, with all segments experiencing year-over-year revenue growth. Historically, May tends to be a slower month in the year as the summer season begins and the industry prepares its major releases for the holiday season. Across the market we observed an improvement in conversion rates, indicating a greater willingness among consumers to spend on digital games. Notably, despite stable player numbers, both digital console and digital PC market saw impressive year-over-year growth in revenues: 17% and 12%, respectively.

Those are some impressive growth figures and point to an increasingly digital market for games. PC has moved in that direction steadily, and consoles are catching up. But as questioned in their briefing, this does raise questions about how E3 will stay relevant.

Traditional retail is based around a high volume of holiday shopping. However, digital games purchases are much less seasonal as gamers rely on sales or other factors to determine when is best to buy the games of their choice. E3 has typically been the ideal time to begin building excitement for titles releasing during the holiday period. Now, with gamers happy to purchase games all year long, it’s hard to imagine that this model will continue in the same way.

Already, E3 has become more oriented towards the press and consumers, with tons of events for YouTubers and other online personalities to show consumers why they should care about the latest releases. Distributors and retailers still attend the event; they need to know order quantities and try to estimate demand for the various games on show. However, their importance is diminishing and I’m curious to see if this translates into higher level meetings with other players in the industry as publishers need to find new ways to reach gamers that don’t necessarily include brick and mortar retailers.

Last Updated: June 11, 2015

Zoe Hawkins

Wielding my lasso of truth, I am the combination of nerd passion and grammar nazi. I delve into all things awesome and geek-tastic. You can read more of my words over at www.borngeek.co.za, or just follow me on all the social networks to get the true range of my sarcasm and wit.

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