High Street retailers expanding their digital sales services is validation that the market is set to change dramatically over the next few years, according to Metaboli's Paul Howes.
Speaking in an exclusive interview published today, Howes points out that rather than fear digital distribution as a service that could steal PC sales, chains like GAME are pushing downloads in order to take advantage of a rapidly growing market.
"We've seen in recent months a real development of that relationship," said Howes of Metaboli's partnership with GAME.
"Initially we provided them with a white label portal, but in the last three or four months we've actually started integrating links into their product pages. So we're giving their PC buyers a direct alternative to buying the boxed version.
"When the download product is presented alongside the boxed product we'll start to see PC gamers move across to digital. We have to be on a level playing field in terms of the boxed product and in terms of price and promotions, but that's starting to happen. With a company like GAME getting behind it in such a big way, again, it's a really strong indication of where the market's heading,” offered Howes.
He also believes that within three years, digital sales of PC games will overtake the High Street, as high speed broadband connections become the standard.
"There's been a lot of research done on when digital will overtake retail and we think in 2012 there might be a tipping point.
"It's an awful lot to do with broadband speeds and broadband networks. In the UK Virgin Media are pushing out 50 meg and fibre, BT is now pushing out fibre optic towards 2012. We feel that 2012 could well be the tipping point in the UK because of bandwidth issues.
"We're seeing steady growth month on month and once we have that bandwidth in place we'll see a real rush towards digital at that point," he added.