AAA game downloads on the brink of overtaking physical in Europe

Exclusive figures reveal rapid digitisation as consumers drop physical in favour or digital

AAA console sales in two European markets are now primarily digital, can reveal.

The latest figures from GSD highlight how consumers are rapidly moving away from buying games on a disc. The data firm took a selection of major AAA franchises -- including Assassin's Creed, Far Cry, Star Wars, Batman, Battlefield, Monster Hunter, Call of Duty, Grand Theft Auto, Red Dead Redemption, FIFA, Dragon Ball, Need for Speed and Tom Clancy -- and compared their digital/physical sales split during the first quarter of 2019 with the same period in 2018.

The most digital friendly region is the Nordics, where 66% of AAA console games (PS4 and Xbox One only) are now sold as downloads -- a rise of 13% compared with the same period in 2018. The UK is in second place, with 56% of its 1.36 million games being sold through Xbox Live and PlayStation Network (UK data for 2018 is not available).

The most physical friendly market is Italy, where just a third of console game sales are digital. However, in 2018 only a quarter of AAA game sales in Italy were downloads.

Q1 2019:

CountryOverall Q1 SalesDigital Q1 SalesPhysical Q1 SalesDigitsation
UK and Ireland1,360,942761,333599,60956%

Q1 2018:

CountryOverall Q1 SalesDigital Q1 SalesPhysical Q1 SalesDigitsation

*GSA - Germany, Switzerland, Austria.

The fastest rising digital market is France. In 2018, 31% of the selected franchises were sold digitally, with the rest being sold in a box. However, by 2019 that had increased to 47%.

The next market to become predominantly digital will be "GSA," which is Germany, Switzerland and Austria. The market is currently an even split between physical and digital AAA game sales.

Despite the rapid change, physical games remain the dominant market for the time being. Across all European territories, 52% of AAA console games were sold in a box during Q1 2019.

The study was conducted by ISFE's GSD charts project on behalf of

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Latest comments (1)

Rogier Voet IT Consultant 2 years ago
The bulk of my game collection is Digital - it's only that I cleared out my old game collection that I know have some physical copies. But with the game pass, xcloud I can only see a very fast rise of digital content purchases. The only problems are that Digital games are often more expensive than physical copies and that ownership rights for digital games still need to be revised to be more consumer friendly.
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