36% of Gamers Now Playing Downloads

Some data from the NPD has come out this week regarding the success of “going digital” for games. An increasing number of us are turning to the download option for our gaming fancy, as platforms like the eShop become more and more important for companies selling their software.

It’s a tough situation to really gauge right now, despite the growth, because companies like Nintendo are still tying software to their hardware, which makes choosing downloads a little risky—and then there’s the case of Nintendo removing less-than-legally-obtained 3DS retail software through remote access to their hardware systems (and the debate is ongoing as to whether they should be able to do that or not).

Nintendo can’t take away a box, but they could take away a digital file… but having a physical copy means extra “stuff” lying around and dealing with boxes, papers, and other plastic waste. With these pros and cons in mind, a survey of 6,000+ people surveyed (13 years old and up) showed that 36% of gamers say they’re playing downloaded games on consoles, PCs, or handheld consoles. Of these, 16% said they play only downloaded games, and no longer buy retail copies at all.

With all this in mind, PC gamers were the dominant market for downloading, with only 14% of console owners saying they download games monthly. And if gamers were presented with the option of buying the same game at the same price, either physical or download copy, 45% were unsure of what their solution would be, with 25% going for the download copy.

According to Liam Callahan, an NPD analyst, many of the download purchases are more spontaneous than physical copy purchases, which could make a large difference for gaming companies in the future.

Will the games industry ever become “download only”? Never say never, and we wouldn’t say “absolutely!” just yet, but the trend is certainly swinging that way with each passing year.


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Author: Faith View all posts by
Faith likes games and books and cake and writing and Lara Croft, not necessarily in that order. She also thinks a Skylanders cartoon show is a really, REALLY good idea...

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