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Physical Game Sales Percentage Saw Steep Decline In 2010
Physical Game Sales Percentage Saw Steep Decline In 2010
August 11, 2011 | By Frank Cifaldi

August 11, 2011 | By Frank Cifaldi
More: Console/PC, Business/Marketing

The percentage of home video games purchased on physical media in the United States saw a steep decline in 2010, according to a new study.

The Entertainment Merchants Association's annual D2 Report on physical media suggests that 71 percent of video games purchased in the United States in 2010 were on disc. By comparison, last year's edition of the report said that between 80 and 90 percent of games purchased in 2009 were physical.

According to the EMA, 44 percent of home console households have purchased downloadable game content. That number is expected to grow to 58 percent by 2013.

Despite the drop, the EMA says the numbers are encouraging for the retail market, given that physical game sales still represent the majority of purchases.

"The home entertainment industry should be encouraged by the strong consumer support for packaged media demonstrating that discs and digital content will coexist in the foreseeable future," said EMA president and CEO Bo Andersen.

The study also showed that 40 percent of the usage for both the Xbox 360 and the PlayStation 3 was for non-gaming purposes. For the PlayStation 3 specifically, 27 percent of that was used to play DVDs and Blu-rays, and 13 percent was spent downloading or streaming movies.

The EMA's annual D2 Report compiles data from Adams Media Rsearch, Digital Entertainment Group, The NPD Group, and others. The full study can be purchased here.

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Alex Leighton
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Long live dinosaur discs! When publishers are ready to pay me 100 bucks a month to cover an internet upgrade, I'll consider buying digital copies of AAA games.

Steven Sei
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Yeah, i hope that disc based media stays around for a long long time. I like to collect games, so i want physical copy of the games :)

Cody Scott
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me too... also if a company goes under and everything is digital, it makes things a little difficult to put games on new consoles or pcs.

Joe McGinn
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Get ready to be disappointed. Five years you will no more be able to find a physical-media game store than you will be able to find a record store or a DVD-rental store.

Physical media is rapidly on the way out, as this article is evidence of.

Ujn Hunter
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The day that games are Digital Only is the day that I stop buying games.

Stephen Fletcher
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I'm not so sure about that. Yes, I do buy digital games since its hard to find PC games where I am, but I'm more 'picky' where I buy games. Granted, by being 'picky' with my online game purchases, it means I tend to buy most of my digital games from places that let me download the full installer and doesn't need to call home to install (Humble Indie Bundle and for most of my games, but not all, I admit to having some Steam games). This lets me purchase digital games but I can also store them on a backup drive and if these places go belly up, my games are still mine (as long as I still have a good copy of the media, same issues with cds and such).

Joe McGinn
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The data is interesting but the conclusion is absurd: packaged-good game companies should be encouraged by their decline in the market, because they are not dead yet? O RLY. How this could possibly by spun as anything but imminent disaster for the boxed-product crowd is a point that eludes me.

Glenn Sturgeon
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"The home entertainment industry should be encouraged by the strong consumer support for packaged media demonstrating that discs and digital content will coexist in the foreseeable future,"

Thats true.

The console market is as always is wating for the PC to pave the way. But theres still along way to go before digital can beat box sales of big AAA titles on pc, since no one realy wants to DL a 6-10gb file from a server running slow due to mass demand becouse its launch day for a game. Add to that, theres basicly "no chance" the next gen of consoles will be all digital distribution, "so theres at least another decade of disc format media comming". You can bet on that.

If either Plants vs Zombies or Dead Rising zero was a 6 gig game, neither would be digital only and both would have sold better on disc, that factor will not change untill BB tech is upgraded beyond what the vast majority of the world has now.

Eric Geer
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Some things could come into play here---

-The economy is shit and it has only gotten worse over the last year ie people aren't buying as many games

-There has been a strong push on the developer side that has pushed the digital games ie lots of games are NOT available on disc(if they were, I would buy them on disc)

-$60 game on disc is much more expensive than the $5-25 digital game ie you the customer can buy more of the digital games for the same price as the disc games.

But the thing that concerns me about digital is for those that don't have the internet--no access to DLC/Digital games/Firmware updates/etc. An example would be Brink that came out in May---since the game was released there has been 2 MAJOR updates and 1 DLC that have greatly improved the playability of the game(Bethesda can you please QA/QC the games you publish so they aren't F-ed up upon release) This bother's me because if I were an individual that didn't have access to the internet--how would I get these updates---Firmware you can download of the internet and USB them into a PS3--but what about the patches and DLC--there is no way to do that---

also this digital content can cut out a segment(younger segment) of gamers---many people purchase digital games via credit card--there are alternatives to this--PSN points or whatever they are called--but they are not at hand and some parents don't trust the internet shopping aspect of it---

The last thing that disturbs me about digital media is that a publisher can remove the accessibility to those games over a period of time. If I download it once and my system crashes later on and the publisher removes accessability to that game--Will I ever be able to play it again?? If I had a disc of it I could.

I will never be a TRUE fan of online/digital content--but it kind of scares me that everything seems to be moving in that direction. It allows for some great things..but it also hinders us in other ways.

Joe McGinn
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Eric, as a developer I couldn't care less about users who don't have the internet. That's such a rapidly vanishing breed, I might as well worry about selling to gamers who don't have electricity.

One other point I disagree with is your worry it cuts out a younger market. On the contrary, they are leading the way playing subscription and free games on the Internet. That's why the licensed-game market (from movies and TV shows) has utterly disappeared on consoles.