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The number of new titles appearing on store shelves each year has been on a steady decline since 2010, but one industry analyst says more and more indie games going physical could be the key to reversing the trend.
In a post for the NPD Group blog, NPD industry analyst Mat Piscatella explains that a significant decrease in physical game releases over the past five years has created an opportunity for developers to physically release smaller games and diversify both the genres and prices offered on store shelves.
2010 saw a total of 742 physical games released in the US on both portables and consoles. By 2015, this number had dropped significantly to a mere 230 titles.
Piscatella notes that the growing popularity of digital sales, along with the declining number of active game publishers, have created store shelves that are mostly filled with $60, triple-A action and shooter games.
This, he claims, created an opportunity for smaller games to step forward and offer in-store purchasing options that were more diverse, both in terms of genre and price. Games like Rocket League and Terraria that were previously digital-only releases started showing up at major game retailers.
GameStop’s own publishing efforts represent one example of this, as does the company’s partnership with IndieBox to physically release games like Nuclear Throne and Awesomenauts. Piscatella says efforts such as this have led to an increase in physical game releases during 2016 as 271 new cases hit store shelves.
It’s worth noting that one year of growth alone doesn’t necessarily indicate any sort of upward swing in physical game sales but Piscatella believes that more digital-only games showing up on store shelves could ultimately benefit sales of both indies and triple-A titles. For more from Piscatella on this topic, check out his full post for the NPD Group.