Earlier in the year, it was reported that the United Kingdom is spending more and more on digital stores instead of physical shops, with 67 per cent of 2020's total expenditure being digital. Now, new data reveals that percentage is actually much higher. According to a new breakdown from Entertainment Retailers Association, the UK's total games spending last year was 85.4 per cent digital.
It's not the only impressive number. Looking at entertainment as a whole, video games accounted for 48 per cent of aggregate sales. That means gaming is comfortably the UK's largest entertainment sector, generating almost as much money as video and music combined. Spending on games is up by 17.7 per cent year-on-year.
While the coronavirus pandemic has undeniably been a driving factor of these figures, this trend away from physical sales has been evident for years. UK gamers have been moving to the likes of PlayStation Store and Steam for software, with the percentage of physical retail spending decreasing over time. Having said that, physical sales were also up in 2020; sales of boxed games increased by 7.2 per cent versus 2019, while the arrival of new consoles to the market driving a 7.7 per cent boost to hardware.
Did you buy most of your games digitally in 2020? What do you think of these statistics? Discuss in the comments section below.
[source eraltd.org, via gamesindustry.biz, vg247.com]
I have ps5 physical version, I haven't put bluray disc in it yet
Still playing my digital games like ghost, jedi fo, the divisions 2, genshin impact, a lot of indies games, and a couple of psplus games. After I'm done with a couple of my digital games then I'll start playing my (steelbook) disc games, like persona 5 royal and death stranding.
Hmm I suppose the fact no shops were open for most of last year played some part in this
Those statistics mean nothing since most games are digital only. Any similar statistic only taking into account games that have physical releases on day one?
I don't mind buying digital games if they are on a decent sale, otherwise I can pay £40-£50 for a new game and then sell it for £30 when I've completed it, something I can't do with digital.
I have always had physical games.
You can resell them and buy them cheap of other people.
Plus the disc or cart will always be yours and you don't have to worry about servers shutting down once the console gets too old and you lose your purchases.
I think the next Gen console will just be digital though which will affect a lot of game retailers.
Interesting number you would expect it to have increased due to COVID but I didn't think it would be by 85%. I am a collector so I like to buy physical and will continue to do so.
The thing I don't get is why it is the same price or sometimes more on the PS store compared to physical???? Surely there are savings to be had for digital but if people are buying them at that volume then why would they lower prices!?!?
@Rhaoulos This would a far more interesting (and telling) statistic 👍
That's a lot but I guess that includes PC which is all-digital at this point? Does it include mobile too?
Hardly surprising. Plus there were plenty of sales on too.
Even during the lockdowns I opted for physical releases (obviously online purchases)
If there is a physical release of a title 9/10 it will be the version I opt for.
Dont get me wrong I still buy titles digitally but they tend to be smaller indie titles (or PSVR titles)
I'm still buying my games from amazon uk and gamestop ie.
I'll always goes for the physical release first.
@Burntbreadman Exact same for me. I'll get something like Blasphemous as a digital title when there's no physical option at launch. Then I'll probably get physical on Limited Run a year later. I'll do the same with Kena.
I have a physical ps5 and only have 2 discs, most of them are Digital, think it's nice to have a choice, but with all the sales on store it's hard not to buy digital and also no shops open and working from home so not going out as much atm
All of my purchases have been digital as its not been possible to buy physical games. However, I only buy them when on heavy sale, as I refuse to pay 4 times more than I would were the shops open. As such, my (all digital) spend so far this year has been very small:
FF7 - £6.49
FF8 - £7.99
Yakuza Kiwami 2 - £9.59
Yakuza Remastered Collection (3,4,5) £24.99
Yakuza 0 - £3.99
Running Total = £53.05
If I had been able to buy games physically I would have experienced more games, but I’m not willing to submit to inflated digital pricing and have enough of a backlog of old games I want to play that I don’t have to.
I’ve always been someone who buys physical because I don’t keep many games and like to trade them in for something now. The pandemic has changed that and most of my purchases this year have been digital, partly because there’s been some really good sales. I’ve found myself enjoying the ability to switch between games without having to change disks.
I wouldn’t pay full price for a digital copy of a game. Demon Souls is the only disk game I have on PS5
@thefourfoldroot I got the same as you for even less using Turkish account 😂
Lol, I heard about that option, but financial prudence fought with laziness, and laziness won!
Its well worth remembering that these statistics take into account PC games as well. So with storefronts like Steam, Epic, GOG taking the lions share of PC Sales it definitely skews the data somewhat.
Would much prefer to see the data on Console Physical & Digital sales with the PC ones excluded. This data may even include mobile gaming for all we know. It doesn't give a clear picture.
I want physical games to exist because they keep the playstation store a bit more honest and help drive down the digital price of old games.
But personally I'd prefer to buy a game digitally than on a disc. It's less of a pain to store and use, and I pay a little more for a digital version than I would for a disc.
I never sell on games, so I don't benefit from that part of physical discs.
To be honest I earn a shed load of Amazon gift cards that i transfer into Playstation store credit..........My Games library is on overload My only costs for over £2000 of Games is keeping my internet provider topped up in juice.........................................IF this option was not available Then my 1st choice would be physical purchases but when the Gaming section is taped up or blocked off it is little wonder Digital sales are at 85%.............We are being forced into it......and that is very worrying 🤔
Like others have said, mobile/dlc purchases could be a large factor. And subscription payments, its not clear if they are included but that would be huge.
There's no denying digital is on the rise, but taking away physical for full price games could be very negative, there are many people who wouldn't consider paying 50+ in one go on a digital purchase.
@wiiware "I have ps5 physical version, I haven't put bluray disc in yet"
I have a PS5 physical version, I HAVE put a bluray disc in.... BUT immediately took the bluray disc out as it occasionally randomly spins up and I can hear it.
(To be clear it isn't noisy per se, but it always seems to do it during silent moments in games... I can hear it... it's low-key annoying!)
@Total_Weirdo They've been predicting the death of physical games for over 2 generations. It's not going anywhere.
Microsoft tried and lost a whole generation because of it as they struggled to revert.
@Rhaoulos that would be a much better comparison, its a rather meaningless stat saying 85% of games sold were digital if many of those games were only available digitally in the first place
I bought PS4 games almost exclusively digitally in the past year, partly due to the situation we're in it seemed easier and there were some great sales. For full price games I still bought some physical discs. However, I also bought an Evercade and about 6 cartridges just this year!
@themightyant The landscape was very, very different in 2013 when MS tried it compared to today. And to take that changing market forward another gen to, what, 2027ish in all likelihood?
Simply cannot see a future for discs when we all get there. Even today, I haven't used one for years for any form of media and I miss them not one iota.
That's sad. I always be a fan of physical editions . You can collect them, resell them after completing then buy again when price drops down. Or if you don't like the game you can just sell it so you don't lose money on games you never play. Also i like to own the games and have different editions of games i like. Companies like Sony obviously want to push people towards digital as there are no second hand market on digital games.
Hope we'll keep getting physicals in the future
In the words of former Glam-Rock one-hit-wonders Cinderella, "don't know what you've got, 'till it's gone"
I've taken to the habit of buying more games digitally, even though it goes against my better judgement, just for the convenience of it.
Yet, I'd be sad if I could no longer find Physical copies of games on storeshelves. If we don't buy physical, we remove the incentive to MAKE physical. So when they disappear, we'll have to point the finger at ourselves.
Few years ago I had interesting conversation on PS Blog EU about digital vs physical. Some lad tried to convince me that going full digital means that that prices of games will vastly drop as you will cut out the production cost, transportation, storage, 3rd shop profits etc. Meanwhile, I argued that full digital means that only SONY will dictate prices of games, and that means that in the end the prices will grow higher. And colour me surprised, I am not surprised at all. Not to mention there is also issue that you do not have full ownership of games you digitaly "own", according to EU law you should be able to re-sell those games. In most cases sales in physical shop are much better than those in PS store, unless we are talking about really niche games. Also being owner of PS Vita having over 50-60 physical copies of various games including some of the games never released in my own region (eg. Trails in the Sky series, Nobunaga Ambition, Oreshika, Dragon Quest Heroes etc.) I really cannot care less about digital games. I know perfectly well what SONY will do as soon as they will think there is no profit. There are more games on Vita right now released physical-only than those digitally, simply because PS Store is a mess (and requires to translate description of Eng-ONLY games to all languages in the world because of no reason)
90% Physical, 10% Digital if found in scrap bin
@Rhaoulos But WHY are most games digital only? It's the beginning of the end of physical games. Which is sad, because when you buy digital, you really own nothing and are at the mercy of Sony or whoever sold it to you to decide how long they want to support it.
@shiningstar a bit off topic, but I suspect the next gen is going to take a lot longer to come around than we are used to. Technology isn't improving/getting cheaper as quickly as it used to. Unless some big breakthrough is made, it's hit a bit of a peak for the time being I think.
@ShiningStar I agree MANY don't use discs.
But those of us that do are numerous enough and VERY vocal! Many of the online voices with channels and websites are collectors who will scream bloody murder (again) if/when it is attempted.
It will be a very negative narrative and a very tough sell when a large proportion of the news spreading media is dead set against it.
For what it's worth some of Microsoft's suggestions for XBox One e.g. digital game sharing were very progressive and potentially good, but that wasn't the message that was conveyed or the narrative around it... I wonder why
It would be interesting to see the sales by platform only really.
For example PC is pretty much digital only now, Steam, GOG, Epic games etc.
I hope Smartphones weren't included in this data either.
Funny though how the Disc version of the PS5 outsells the digital version though, even at £100 more if we're all going digital.
I am a happy owner of a full digital ps5.
Several factors went into my decision of dropping the disc: I missed last gen completely and ps store prices on old titles are stupid low, I rarely buy day ones maybe once a year or so and I don't mind waiting for digital sales, lots of games I play are digital only, ps+ is the best thing ever, I like the idea of reselling but I never do, the digital looks so much better than the lumpy disc version, that eject button is SO FAR from the sofa!!!
Having the choice is good, but it wasn't worth 100£ for me.
Also, I don't buy into the argument that you don't actually own the title. If sony entertainment goes bust and they shut the servers A) I'll still have the titles on a hard drive, B) kiss goodbye your loved ones, because the world is about to end.
Im about 97% digital but i hardly pre-order games or buy day-one most of my games are brought on sale.
@Phelan 100% agreed. Do NOT want to get to a point where Sony is the ONLY one setting the cost of games both at launch and crucially how quickly they devalue. The recent price hike should be ample warning of their intent.
That said I buy MORE games digitally than physically, thought almost exclusively in Sales. For new titles I only buy physical where prices are often £5-20 less at launch with the option to sell if not happy.
What rights and prices does Sony give digital users on day 1?
I’m so used to digital games from Game Pass, I’m all-digital now. Less clutter and for brand-new releases there’s very little price difference between the PS Store and Amazon. Sony also run very regular sales with good discounts, so I’m happy not ever having to get up to change discs! I never sold my games anyway so I’m not losing out.
It's been a few years since I've purchased a physical game. I appreciate theyre often cheaper on disc after the initial release window but I just prefer digital and being able to go back without having rows and rows of discs in my house.
@themightyant Lol I don't even know if my ps5 disc is loud or not, I don't have drift and coil whine problems so I hope the disc doesn't have problems too
@wiiware I don't have coil whine or drift either.
I'm just getting fussy and cantankerous in my old age
@Balosi don't count on it. First, PS5 is already few years behind current newly build PC. That's something natural, PS5 price compared to high end PC is not that expensive. Secondly, new console means new profit and creating buzz around your own brand.
@Futureshark That's only natural, PC biggest problem was piracy. People pirated games to hell and back. You can say that pirates are actual precursors of digital era. People got used to owning digital copy of the game even before Steam came to live. Heck I still remember period of various DRMs, those times were brutal. Take for example King's Bounty which had Starforce DRM, for many gamers who owned physical copy of the game (which was the only version of game back than) the only way to play the game... was download pirate version of the game they had. So yeah, moving to digital only Steam for PC gamers seemed as the natural step in evolution from pirate games. Btw. since Starforce I hate all DRMs, that's why i try to go GOG all the way.
@themightyant I am pretty sure the only right from having day 1 digital version of the game is "Just smile and wave boys... smile and wave..."
@Mostik From my understanding they can't undersell the shops, don't know the full reason but i guess its because the likes of Game/Gamestop wouldn't be happy if the brand new release is going for $30 on PSN while they're having to sell it for $60.
@Salt_AU Weeeellllll.... technically speaking you can't lose them. In reality if SONY will want to make it harder for you to find those game they will. Searching for something you bought on PSP or PS VITA few years ago, scrolling to hell and back downside, going through jungle of DLCs... it's like leaving all your game collection at the attic of your old house's, which you already rented to someone else so going there is a massive pain in the donkey.
I still buy mostly physical games but i been buying a lot of digital also.theres always a sale on psn.word up son
I think we can all agree..........The P.S. Store has games you can not buy in any shop anymore.....New or Used.
That's hardly surprising... pretty much every shop has been shut!
But how many sales were of full-price new games, and how many were cheap older games in the numerous sales?
I still buy physical where possible, and will continue to do so until it's not an option. Full-price for digital at launch is a mug's game, and doubly so with PS5 and the price hike.
@themightyant "I'm just getting fussy and cantankerous in my old age"...Welcome to the club. 🤝
@Number09 While that's true I am kinda inclined to think that there are more games that were pulled from PS Store and can be bought only in physical shop. There are dozens of games constantly being removed from PS Store due to licensing issues, take for example some of the games from Naruto series.
@WallyWest That does make sense to be fair. I will always buy physical given the option but it has to be cheaper (and greener) to sell something digitally as opposed to making a disc, box and shipping etc just seems a shame the gamer doesn't save in this situation but if it is to protect the high street then I am all for it as there are so few left these days
For people asking about PlayStation specific data, Sony actually release that data in their quarterly and annual reports.
They only count full games that have both physical and digital release and the data is:
Financial Year 2018(up to March 2019): 43% digital
FY 2019: 55%
In FY 2020 the first three quarters are 79%, 59%, 52%(Q1&Q4 are always significantly higher interestingly), the full year will likely be significantly over 60%.
The really interesting stat, and which illustrates how profitable digital is relative to physical, is that physical software represents only 5.76% of the games division total revenue!
I bought one physical game last year and that was Demon’s Souls.
About 25-30 games for me last year were from PS NOW / PLUS and then I bought about 10 digitally some in sales some full price.
Stats like this will hurt the physical industry, take it down!
As others have said not surprising, given the past year.
Since the PS store came online with PS3 i have i believe bought 2 games digitally.
I do however subcribe to PS plus so have effectively have around 9 or so years of games on tap, so well over 200 games just on my PS4.
For the rest i usually buy used when they get below the £15 mark, however if i were rich i'm sure i would throw more money at games early.
This includes games you can't even find in the shops right?
@Paranoimia With you on that last point. Whilst I'm totally digital on all types of media, I wouldn't even consider buying a game day one on digital. Look at the discounts already available by waiting a few months (and getting a better performing and feature complete game too via patches into the bargain)
All the rest of my digital media, from music, to TV shows, movies and phone apps, comes gratis anyway so I don't begrudge spending a little on gaming.
@Phelan Very good point there 👍 I know old P.E.S. games are wiped.
Not sure how accurate this data is but apparently online multiplayer and service games are more likely to be bought digitally (70% of Call of Duty sales) while single player story-based games do better on discs (32% digital for Miles Morales), which makes sense to me.
@LordSteev all indie games are digital only, unless they become big enough to have a special physical version. Printing physical games costs a lot of money, and I hate this kind of article that says physical games are dying because manufacturers might take this as a hint to stop making physical games. Sadly, it has started with the ps5 digital edition and Xbox series S, and I hope it won't sell much compared to the physical edition in the long run so physical games will live on.
Edit: also barely anybody buys physical pc games anymore. Even if you do, you still need to link it to a steam account or equivalent, so you can't lend it to a friend or sell it, making it pointless. And pc games are still available a decade later, unlike console eshops.
@Rhaoulos Agree with you 100%
I guess digital makes great sense for smaller unknown developers, and at least they can offer us something this way. I'm just going to be so sad one day to see Gamestop go the way of Blockbuster.
considering most retail stores were closed for at least 7 months of 2020 (and for all but 2 weeks of the busiest period), and large supermarkets (at least that i saw) seem to stopped stocking up on games, it's surprising that physical games went up 7%, especially with the likes of CEX closed where most trade-ins seem to end up.
i bought 3 PS4 games in 2020 — all on disc - 2 at launch, significantly cheaper than PSN. i bought 3 PS5 games, also all on disc (savings weren't as big as PS4 games, but still about five quid per game). i did renew my PS+ (which i wouldn't subscribe to if it wasn't needed for online) and i thought i bought a destiny 2 dlc pack cheap during one of the lockdowns - which presumably counts as a "digital purchase" — but since there's literally no other options for those, it's daft to compare them with physical purchases.
@Rhaoulos While the logic might sugest that you are right, it's actually the other way. For most of indie devs releasing physical version of the game is THE cheaper option.
Believe it or not, releasing on PS Store is HUGE hassle. First of all, you need to provide ratings for your game for all corresponding regions (ESRB, PEGI, CERO, GSRR, USK, ACB, JSO etc) and platforms. In case of PEGI when game is relatively small it's around 400 USD for each of the platform, so PS4, PS5, PS Vita, PS3 that's already 1600 USD alone for ratings for JUST ONE region.
Now provided that you have ratings for your games, you still need to translate the description of your product to all languages of countries where you want to sell your game. Sometimes devs use google translate, but that might get sometimes refused by SONY.
This is why most of Vita games are released now as a Physical only. There are companies like Strictly Limited Game, Limited Run Games, East Asia Soft etc. Just check what games they released you will be surprised as many of them were either never relased digitally or released just in one region.
Tldr: It's actualy cheaper to release a physical edition.
I buy both but usually I find more often the physical games are still cheaper.
@AndyWK digital games need to check with the server that you are still allowed to play them I think. It's unclear if they'd still remain playable if the server ever did go permanently offline.
I think these numbers are skewed, heavily, towards the final push for developers and publishers to finally not even have to make physical copies anymore. After all, it's what gives them a boner.
My guess is the numbers quoted are for total revenue physical Vs digital and little Tommy's pocket money to buy a Fortnite skin soon adds up to '87% of all games sold are digital'.
I really really really don't want things to go all digital :-/ I like collecting Discs + hopefully it was because people couldn't really go to the shops(because of the Virus) to buy stuff that digital sales were high. Oh well.
@Phelan Following your explanation, I'm not sure cheaper is the right word. You still need a Pegi rating for a physical version, and once it's on an eshop, you make ~70% of what you sell without requiring to pay ahead the manufacturing cost. In the end, digital is a much safer bet for indie games, and if a physical version is released afterwards, collectors will gladly double dip. Translation aside, I suppose you can always extend the number of countries in which you want to sell a game later.
@Rhaoulos If you are going for physical you pay for one rating instead of all or just release it in country which doesn't even require rating. You just sell physical copies via online shop.
Let's say average indie game is like 15 USD. 70% of it is 10,5 USD. That means you need to sell around 400 copies of a game to even start earning any money. Now let's remember that some niche games are released with limited run of 1000-2000 copies and that's for global demand. Sure that's not valid if someone thinks Persona 5 is "niche" game, but if we are talking about true niche games than again digital rarely is the answer.
And you really overestimate how expensive is manufacturing. Again lately a lot of games are released as physical only, which means it's valid option.
I’ve gone digital because it gets me two copies for the price of one. Both my son and I can play together. If I did physical, I’d have to buy 2 copies.
Well I'm not in that 85 percent, I have a ps5, loads of ps4 physical games. So always using the drive to play various games, as well as the ps5 games I have on disc also
@Lightning13 20 minutes,lol
A year where game shops were deemed non essential and forved to close, and people were told to stay home. Hardly surprising since Hermes lobbing your parcel over next doors fence, is enough to put off people from buying disc copies online. Although we still do.
I'm interested to know if the PS plus monthly games are included in this digital count, this will skrew the reality if they are
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