Well, here it is: an astronomical 80 per cent of video game sales in the UK were made through digital outlets like the PlayStation Store in 2018. According to the Entertainment Retailers Association, of the £3.86 billion (~$4.8 billion) that the sector generated last year, £3.09 billion (~$3.9 billion) was spent on digital items. The remaining £770 million (~$972 million) was generated by physical sales.
The digital number includes everything from microtransactions, subscriptions, and downloadable content to full-game downloads and pay-to-play products. The figure is up 12.5 per cent year-over-year, compared to retail sales being down 2.8 per cent. Overall the industry was up 9.1 per cent year-over-year.
According to the ERA, the split between digital and physical purchases very much depends on the title. FIFA 19, for example, sold 75 per cent of its copies at retail – although its digital share of 25 per cent is increasing annually. It’s perhaps worth noting that the organisation does not track hardware sales, so any revenue generated by consoles is excluded.
Still, it’s pretty clear that we’re seeing a shift to digital now. There’ll be a tipping point, as there was for music, where downloads take over – almost certainly within the next five years, we’d suspect. Specialist retailers like GAME are trying to explore areas like e-sports to remain relevant, but whether that will have any impact remains to be seen.
i'm not surprised with retail prices not being competitive enough compared to digital sales, they hardly go down in price and there is limited quantities available for people to buy on some releases, it also doesn't help that a lot of games in the UK now come in digital only and the US region gets physical copies instead, these are the things that are pushing digital sales the most.
Can't wait for the era when the platform holders and publishers dictate the prices of video games instead of a competing retail market.
Game platforms will be next when the publishers cut out the last middle man; Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo by forcing streaming up us.
As a vinyl collector, I know that physical music still exists, so that's the best I can hope for...
@huyi One of the most important reasons I buy physical is price. Digital games are €70 day one, whereas physical games can be found for as low as €50-52 on release. And I even get them a day or two earlier occasionally.
Well it's not dominant as that figure is including microtransactions and DLC and most games still sell more physically, it's a good way for them to spin the numbers to their own ends though. What is does show is that microtransactions are widely out of control and that certain games perhaps should be free in the first place, as FIFA for example with its child friendly gambling makes more money through microtransactions than sales of the game
A future with games being subscription services, F2P titles and online only focused on e-sports.
Can’t wait. /s
@Octane and then the digital version gets 70% off and the retail version stays at 52 euros....
Well there it is, folks. This perfectly illustrates why when I see a 'sale' on physical video games here in Barbados, with prices still higher than launch retail and digital prices overseas, I chuckle to myself and wonder "um, these retailers do know the PS Store and Xbox store exist, right?"
I have always loved having a physical game cartridge or disc brand new or even used because I can see or feel that, and I know I own it and can sell it if I choose to. I loved the physical box art and, when they were still being offered, the game instruction manual. But even I must admit that most of the games on my PS4's hard drive now are digital downloads. The last physical game I bought was Ratchet and Clank back in 2016. So even though I still love physical media and have plans on getting God of War and Spider-Man on disc sometime this year, if a sale comes up for either of these titles that is just too good to resist, well, you know the rest...
They don't take into account important factors such as the huge, huge second hand market etc. Skewed figures, but digital is no doubt slowly taking over.
@PS_Nation streaming is what will kill it off the most.
@Octane On the flipside, digital deals are starting to be more competitive than retail ones.
It's only improving digitally because people are sharing accounts. No other excuse for paying those ridiculous prices.
It's because there are lots of foreigners buying with UK or US accounts. Shipping costs alone to those countries are like half the price of a new game. And people don't wanna risk delivery problems on day one, they wanna play their highly anticipated game at 0:00 midnight.
As much as I like having physical copies of games, I've been trying to keep my VR collection digital only. Mainly because it's easier to switch between games with a few button presses compared to removing the headset to swap discs.
But, I had to break that rule when I got Doom VFR brand new on ebay for $10 last year. What a steal.
Also we upgraded our internet last summer so now it takes me roughly a half hour to download 2gb opposed to almost two and a half hours before. 👍
@get2sammyb Well, let me know when I can buy a new AAA game on release for less than €60
In the end, the difference is dozens of competing retailers or one single digital storefront with no competition. Now, if digital storefront like GOG and Steam could sell on consoles, it would be a different story, but I don't see that happening anytime soon.
I only bought two games physical last year GOW and Far Cry 5 and it was because I had a gift card. I might go 100% digital with PS5.
@Octane - pretty much any UK store will be less than €60 at launch.
this article takes a report and spins hyperbole that's just not true. a significant chunk of the total is from mobile, and does the hundreds of millions spent on ps+, xbl, ea access/origin count as "video game sales"? FIFA's 25% digital includes probably 98% of PC units, so would be lower for consoles. plus it sold more last year, so if it sold 2.1m physical and 0.6m digital last year, and 1.9m and 0.6m respectively this year, as % share it's up, but in unit terms not really.
there are ldamned lies and statistics.
Of course there are SO many more options that are 'digital' only and a relatively small percentage are available physically. Generally, only AAA games are available Physically so it stands to reason that Digital will generate much more income when the only way to get some games, season passes, all DLC, all micro-transactions etc must be purchased Digitally. Just look at how much micro-transaction content is worth to Activision (CoD/Destiny) and EA (Fifa in particular) - let alone Season Passes, DLC etc.
In like for like (ie Physical vs Digital where its an option), Physical is still the most popular choice - ranging from 80:20 to 60:40 in favour of Physical - at least on console. Do PC games actually get Physical releases nowadays? However, its all the Indie games, DLC, Season Passes, Micro transactions etc that swings this result - also this does include mobile/tablets which don't get Physical releases anyway so have to buy digitally.
That 80% digital figure looks high, but but it's not a particularly good comparison since it includes DLC and microtransactions. I'd be much more interested in seeing how digital and physical compares with new game sales excluding the microtransactions.
@leucocyte Definitely, the stats are heavily skewed. Plenty of PC games are digital only, I mean, are physical PC games still a thing? And with digital-only games, it's hardly fair to compare them 1-to-1.
OK now take the DLC and Microtransactions out and see what the sales are on the GAMES only and also NOT counting digital only games but games that have both a physical and digital release
I can only take 3 things from this, any combination of which may be true:
1. People are idiots.
2. People are lazy.
3. People have more money than sense.
Otherwise, why on earth would you willingly pay - on average - 20-25% more for a game?
Seriously, ignoring special editions, a new game (usually) launches at a minimum £55 on the PSN store, but you can get it from places like Amazon or The Game Collection for £40 to £45. And more often than not, even PSN sales still have higher prices than retail - especially on games more than a few months old.
Ordinarily, I wouldn't be at all bothered about how someone else spends their money, but the fact is that they're enabling the industry to force the rest of us towards something we don't really want.
I've nothing against digital, generally speaking. I buy PC games through Steam. But then PC games are more reasonably priced anyway, and Steam sales genuinely and regularly slash a small fortune off the prices. On consoles with the closed ecosystem, it's just going to push us towards higher publisher-defined prices, with little incentive to discount at all if retail sales aren't providing competition.
@huyi if you want to get a game day one physical is always cheaper if there is a physical release in your region.
If you want a particular game now physically is usually cheaper.
If you keep an eye on the prices over the course of a year then the lowest price will almost certainly be digital but that price will probably only be available for a limited time.
@Octane It's worth noting that in the US they're already there. Games are $60 either physically or digitally at launch.
@get2sammyb Well, we were there. Two or three years ago any AAA game was either €60 digitally or €60 physically (often cheaper as 60 is just the MSRP). Nowadays a lot of digital games are €70; BOTW, FIFA, COD, etc. And with the usual discounts on physical games, that means you're saving up to €20. That's even more than it was a couple of years ago.
Take RE2 for example. I can pre-order a physical copy for €45 right now. On the PS store it's €60, and I don't think it'll get a price cut before launch.
A majority of my games are digital, almost exclusively a result of the many PS store sales! I'll only buy a physical copy if it's a game that I absolutely loved, if a game is more heavily discounted than it has ever been on the PS store (which isn't all that often), or if it's something I really want on release, and even then I use an online only store, as UK's Game is usually nowhere near as competitive!
Half an hour to download 2gb?
That sounds slow to me?
Maybe you meant 20gb?
I got Rdr2 for Chrimbo and I can't get into it. If that was digital it's worth nothing. As a retail game it's £40 trade in.
That's why I predominantly buy physical.
@JJ2 Hey now, half an hour for 2gb is still a hell of a lot better than my old internet.
I live out in the country, give me a break 😂
@huyi Streaming games doesn't actually scare me because it demands too much of a good internet connection to really be viable for most people and thus viable financially for companies. What scares me more is the possibility of extremely restrictive DRM on all platforms. PS4 already has some DRM in place that I find rather annoying...Like how my brother can't download my games and play them on his profile. He has to sign in to mine, and if I sign in it kicks him off. If I recall, on PS3, you could download a game to a couple of separate consoles and different users could play without restriction.
I only buy digital when they do huge discounts like 70 to 80% or more not when they are full price if that's the case I go physical
@get2sammyb This is skewed so badly narrow this down to New AAA games ONLY and you can flip the figures the other direction! Red Dead 2 shipped 17 million copies to retail stores world wide**.Digital only is very bad for gaming!!! Look what Digital only has done to PC Games. How many news channels do you see on PC. What is PC games presence at E3. All Digital means that the PlayStation store captures the whole of the gaming audience.
I only use the PS store for sub $10 games. I have a game book case it's full of around 100 PS4 physical retail games. That is about half day one new and the other half Black Friday sale $15.99 games. I buy most games online, new physical games are delivered to my door on release day. New Retail is where Physical games dominate. Don't be fooled Digital has a high total market only because of micro transaction, DLC, small Indie, and old low cost games are digital only. Heck they may even include the value of free digital plus games LOL
source for RDR2 sales ** :http://fortune.com/2018/11/07/red-dead-redemption-2-sales/
I use games I've bought as trade in for other games or credit to buy psn vouchers for dlc's or digital games. For me in UK, physical for AAA games always makes sense. Having said that, I don't understand who buys fifa on physical, you'll get about 50 p for it by may and there's always a decent black Friday digital sale. What I really wonder is how much of that digital spend is on in game purchases rather than digital games. I bet there's a scary amount of fortnite season passes, cod skins and FUTs in there.
@huyi in UK but not in United States playa word up son
@Octane preach on dawg.physical copies are here to stay.word up son
i wonder if the decline in retail sales is due to people like me who are just sick of the same old s*** year after year. i bought three physical games and 0 digital in 2018. the 40 quid i spent on ps+ sub was about a third of my spend. in 2017, i bought 7 physical games and 1 digital (telltale batman season 2) + 1 DLC (horizon). not sure for 2016, but it was definitely more than 7.
the top 20 this year accounts for 50% of all games sold, and 3 of those were in the 2017 list, and another 6 are franchise entries that were in it last year.. i don't know how that's sustainable long term.
I buy a lot of digital games because sale discounts make for great impulse buys. I really don't care about taking a punt on a £10-£20 game that I might only play two or three times.
Most new releases are physical since it's either a game I know I'll love and want to hold onto as a keepsake (such as Resi 2), even though I know in the scheme of things it's a bit of a silly notion, or it's a game I'm not sure about and would like to be able to sell - such as God of War, Uncharted and probably soon to be Red Dead 2 😂
@Giygas_95 yeah the psn account sharing did take a nosedive on ps4.
@GKO900 yes that is obviously the case, digital is only good for the sales but this is where they are noticing the increase in digital and the flash sales are a part of that.
@Ryall yes day one always retail if it's available to buy that is, but anything else digital sales because it works out cheaper.
Yep even with slow Internet im basically digital only
The end of the physical era is peaking over the horizon... The numbers don't lie, even if I don't like this new digital future.
Digital purchases are a worse deal all around. You don't get a physical copy to share/trade with friends/collect, and what I think a lot of people don't realize is this: any digital game will cease to exist and be rendered unplayable over a long enough timeline. Sure PSN will be around for awhile, but what about 20 years out? Will your digital purchase of Shadow of the Colossus be playable in 30 years? I know the disc would still work, with the proper care.
The biggest problem I have, though, are the digital games are priced the same as physical copies, despite the fact publishers dont have to pay manufacturing and distribution costs. This is a bold-faced rip-off any way you look at it. I buy physical on principle at this point. Really needs to change. What's the big deal of offering a physical copy for $60 and an equivalent digital copy for like $55?
This is kind of obvious. Of course things that can only distributed digitally such as DLC, digital only games and subscriptions will be brought digitally.
These stats don't say anything significant about physical going down, -2.8% in an age where digital consistently pushed and favoured by publishers. Just because the above mentioned items are more ubiquitous, it doesn't mean people want to stop buying physical copies.
Like single player games, physical copies are still in demand even if publishers don't like it.
@get2sammyb Agreed. I've picked up some phenomenal bargains digitally. PS Store can be highly competitive.
@get2sammyb What’s your take on PS5 Sammy? I was November 2019 for the longest time, but I really believe it’s March 2020 now.
@huyi I wonder if they truly expect people to go full digital and pay full 60 price and how many will actually do it or are doing it now
@Badboyfx86 November 2020.
I don't think this is news worth celebrating. I'll always prefer physical over digital. But as I've commented in the past too, I know where the industry is headed. I can deal with it, but if we're forced to go all digital then I better not see day one prices above $40 for a standard edition of a game.
@huyi In with world do you live? Stores have more then enough discounts and you sell your secondhand games. 🤓
You know what happens when you remove options they will own you. 😉
Subscription to Sony, Square-Enix, EA or whatever. Will be good for competition all the cookycutter Ubisoft formula games you can get with microtransactions to the brim. 🤢🤢🤮
Yeah happy times well i have a backlog lets start saving up the games so i atleast can play classics. 😁
@FullbringIchigo Its a really bad comparison thats for sure.
@leucocyte 60 plus games. 😃
Do mobile game/mtx count in this context? Since all of mobile games sales are digital.
@Flaming_Kaiser not in the UK no, there is no difference buying used or brand new here, they are the same or similar price, you won't be saving much, trading in games in the UK is not even worth your time unless you sell on ebay or locally, places like GAME always rip you off.
prices at retail stay the same price for months on end and hardly go down in price compared to digital sales, digital is in my favour for me, the flash sales benefit me, i don't gain any benefits buying retail most of the time unless it's a game i really want to buy day one then yes i will buy physical otherwise no i will buy in a flash sale.
on top of that my backlog keeps on going, there is no need to buy everything day one anyway.
@GKO900 if the retail shops honestly want things to change for the better and physical is intent on staying, the prices need to be better honestly, it has a lot to compete with.
I buy all my games digitally because it's futuristic and radical.
@Flaming_Kaiser - just in 2018!? where do you find the time to finish them?.
@huyi - i don't know where you're shopping in the uk, but prices generally don't stay the same for months on end. assassin's creed odyssey was £24 in tesco before xmas, only two months after it was out. black ops 4 was £29, tomb of the shadow raider £25, even battlefield v was just over £30.. none of these have been that cheap on PS store sales yet. spiderman was sub-30, at the time the PS store sale price was £35.
Full price games(and pre-order games) on PSN are to expensive :-/ That is why I stick to buying disc versions. If ever disc versions go then I fear gamers will get ripped off I bet :-/ Oh well.
I can't wait until we have a all digital gaming future and then we can watch some decent licensed games get lost to time forever when the license changes hands or expires, or when the soundtracks get changed because the license expires. Ahh the glorious digital age.
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