Close
Are you sure? Are you sure you want to report this comment? I understand, report it. Cancel

36% of US plays downloaded games - NPD

36% of US plays downloaded games - NPD

Thu 20 Feb 2014 6:08pm GMT / 1:08pm EST / 10:08am PST
OnlinePublishing

Digital distribution becoming more common, 16% of population has ditched physical media for games entirely

Digital distribution is increasingly becoming an accepted, and in some cases demanded, way for Americans to get their games, according to NPD Group data released today from its Exploring Digital Gaming report.

Based on a recent survey of more than 6,000 people in the US ages 13 and older, the group reported that 36 percent of the US population plays downloaded games on either a computer, console, or dedicated handheld gaming device like a 3DS or PlayStation Vita. A little less than half of that group has abandoned physical media entirely, as 16 percent said they only play digitally distributed games.

As for preferences, gamers were generally split. When both physical and digital versions of a game are available for the same price, 25 percent of respondents said they would take the digital version, compared to 30 percent who would opt for the physical copy. The remaining 45 percent were unsure of their preference.

The PC is far and away the most popular platform for digital distribution, with 90 percent of the NPD's "digital gamers" reporting that they downloaded games for the computer. On the other hand, only 28 percent of digital gamers download games for consoles. And while two-thirds of console gamers said they download titles multiple times a year, only 14 percent do so on a monthly basis.

NPD analyst Liam Callahan said the digital movement has also driven more impulse purchases.

"Most digital players, regardless of device, don't plan their purchases," said Callahan. "They purchase simply when they find something they like. But primary console players do have a greater tendency to purchase at or before the time of release relative to PC players. As more consumers purchase the new consoles (Xbox One, PlayStation 4), we expect to see greater digital spending from digital console gamers as consumers indicated that purchasing these consoles will most likely increase their digital spending."

10 Comments

Alan Resnin
Journalist

19 15 0.8
Increasingly accepted? yes

Most popular or even most desired? no

Posted:5 months ago

#1

Morville O'Driscoll
Games Blogger & Journalist

1,491 1,257 0.8
Most popular or even most desired? no
Ah, it's never black and white. Most popular or even most desired? On PC? Yes. Complete Might and Magic 6 for a little over 5? Sure. On PS3, say, where the price used to be higher, and the selection not so great? No.

It's all perspective.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Morville O'Driscoll on 20th February 2014 9:41pm

Posted:5 months ago

#2

Greg Wilcox
Creator, Destroy All Fanboys!

2,133 1,039 0.5
@Morville: It's funny because PC gamers seem to prefer downloads thanks to most being online who can get those games they want and don't mind the lack of a physical disc while console gamers who don't NEED to be online to get content have to deal with that process (which isn't as simple as it needs to be on some systems).
,
I've noticed for a few years now that a number of European PC games from AAA to indie still get retail disc releases, while here in the US we have no option to go that route in most cases save for that AAA game that offers the option. So, a mixture of enforced evolution and catering to those without decent connections seems to be the thing on both PC and consoles, but you'd never think that with some of the digital-only evangelizing going on.

I'd bet if this survey was longer and hit up all 50 states here to ask about buying habits, you'd see less indecision among that 45 percent. Maybe not more than 5 or 10 percent, as some people don't decide until the last minute how they get content or just don't care as long as they can get it, period.

Posted:5 months ago

#3

Curt Sampson
Sofware Developer

595 356 0.6
Does this have any real validity at all without discussing pricing?

Perhaps I'm odd or something, but I prefer digital; I just don't prefer it enough to pay a significant premium for it. Even on PC I'll still buy a disc-baseed game from time to time because it's not unusual for a used copy of an older game to be half the price of a digital download and no sales appear to be coming any time soon. But for new games on the PS3, I buy many more on disc simply because it's significantly cheaper.

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Curt Sampson on 21st February 2014 3:50am

Posted:5 months ago

#4

Paul Jace
Merchandiser

869 1,277 1.5
"Most digital players, regardless of device, don't plan their purchases," said Callahan.
For the most part I find this to be true, atleast with my purchases. Right now Xbox Live is having their now-annual Ultimate Gamer Sale and yesterday I bought Soul Calibur II, not because I planned to but because it was 75% off for one day only. And they will have sales like that for the rest of this week, including one day multiple game sales for up to 93% off. So if I see something I want and it's cheap enough I'll grab it.

Posted:5 months ago

#5

Morville O'Driscoll
Games Blogger & Journalist

1,491 1,257 0.8
@ Greg
I've noticed for a few years now that a number of European PC games from AAA to indie still get retail disc releases, while here in the US we have no option to go that route in most cases save for that AAA game that offers the option.
Yeah, I've noticed that too... I was in the local Game a few days ago and the PC indie Monaco (What's Yours Is Mine) was there. On the shelf. In a box and everything. Yet I read somewhere that the Deus Ex: HR Director's Cut wasn't seeing a retail-disc release in the States. It confuses the hell out of me. :o
So, a mixture of enforced evolution and catering to those without decent connections seems to be the thing on both PC and consoles, but you'd never think that with some of the digital-only evangelizing going on.
Yeah, like I said - black and white. Everyone wants to argue the Next Big Thing Is Here, and it's, like... Well, there's always good elements to the old ways. Cartridges were faster than CDs. Sprites are more expressive than polygons. Installing from DVD can be faster than downloading and decrypting over the net.

Crazy times.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Morville O'Driscoll on 21st February 2014 12:51pm

Posted:5 months ago

#6

Curt Sampson
Sofware Developer

595 356 0.6
Regarding impulse purchases for digital players: I certainly find this true, but I did find things to be similar for retail games, as well. If I saw something I knew I wanted to play someday that was heavily discounted, I'd often buy it at that moment to save for later, just as I do with digital purchases.

Posted:5 months ago

#7

Alfonso Sexto
Lead Tester

767 574 0.7
36% play digital games. But actually only 16% plays exclusively digital.

Oh my! physical distribution is dead! Put a broken CD in the article's cover, hurry! Gamestop and other shops will go bankruptcy in no time!

(Just a joke, don't hate me ;) )

Posted:5 months ago

#8

Rick Lopez
Illustrator, Graphic Designer

1,269 941 0.7
I download games only if the are small games. I rather have any large games on physical media. a 500 GB or even 1TB gets full relatively quick now a days.

And hard drives cost money and have a high probability of failing. Ive had 4 harddrives die on me in the past.

So honestly I choose optical disc media anyday over harddrives with mechanical moving parts. And downloading a 30-50GB game doesnt seem practicle, especially when many internet service providers have caps on how much you can use it every month.

And its stupid to have to download a file thats over 10GB to then have to erase it to make space to download yet another game of the same size or more. Then you have to start micromanaging your harddrive space, choosing what to delete can take hours and between game installs, DLC, game saves and patches and the consoles own Operating system, all that space runs out pretty quick.

The hard disk also needs empty space to use as scratch disk space, and if too full the console starts to run slow.

Sorry but I prefer physical media anyday. Unless they are small games.

I downloaded STRIDER when it came out and that was about 4GB, took me a few hours to download... it really is a pain.

I can however see the case of games being digital in the case of an MMO, like Final Fantasy 14 or World of War Craft. Your always online and the game is patched on an almost daily bases. But other than that. No.

If the game can be played online give me a phisical disk.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Rick Lopez on 24th February 2014 3:59pm

Posted:5 months ago

#9

Login or register to post

Take part in the GamesIndustry community

Register now