Digital Games Make 3x As Much As Physical In US, Says Report

Downloads reportedly made up 74% of the US gaming market in 2016.


Digital sales made nearly three times as much money as physical sales in the US during 2016, according to a new report by the Entertainment Software Association.

More precisely, NPD figures say 74% of sales in the US came via "subscriptions, digital full games, digital add-on content, mobile apps, and social network games," while 26% came from traditional boxed titles. Together, the categories generated a total of $24.5 billion, with an extra $3.7 billion coming from hardware and $2.2 billion from VR.

Digital is making up a larger proportion of video game sales each year; its share has risen every year since 2010, when the digital:physical split sat at 31:69. Total spend has also increased every year over the same period.

By comparison, physical makes up "almost 50% of all the revenue generated from games and games-related items" in the UK, according to GamesIndustry.

In November 2016, EA's CFO, Blake Jorgensen, said he believes buying physical games from a bricks-and-mortar store might soon be a thing of the past.

"Like everything else, the consumer is ultimately going to default to convenience," he said. "If it's a choice of getting in the car and driving to the store and the weather is bad outside, if you want to download it, I think you'll see more people do that."

For its part, GameStop--one of the biggest video game retailers in the world--is preparing for a more digital world. The retailer predicted last year that 50 percent of its total revenue will come from items other than physical video games by 2019.

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Elsewhere in the report, the ESA states that "67% of US households own a device that is used to play video games," while the average age of a US gamer is apparently 35. Graphics continue to play a huge part in deciding whether to buy a game, meanwhile: 67% of respondents cited it as a factor, making it the single biggest consideration, before even price (65%) or "an interesting story/premise" (59%).

The survey, which was carried out by market research firm Ipsos, gathered data from "over 4000 households," though the number of individual respondents is not disclosed.

Check out the ESA's full report for yourself here.

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