Reading SuperData’s recent report on digital video game sales this afternoon has me thinking about how insistent the gaming community was that digital video game would never take off. I’m ready to take my victory lap now.
In 2013, as Microsoft and Sony were getting their new consoles on store shelves, there was a certain kind of gamer that railed against digital games. According to those gamers, digital games wouldn’t catch on because enough people didn’t have speedy internet connections or gamers wanted a disc to trade to GameStop and Best Buy.
My argument was simple. First, given the choice between getting a game without getting off the couch and heading to a GameStop, people would buy digital in a heartbeat. Who wants to stand in line just to hear a clerk ask them to pre-order every game coming out in the six months? And second, hardly anyone downloads enough games to hit their home internet’s data cap. We aren’t all buying four games a month.
Finally, the iTunes App Store and Google Play Store have conditioned us to buy digital goods without expecting a physical product in return.
The top sheet of SuperData Research’s Digital Game report for March 2018 alone tells the story. According to this report, Ubisoft sold 2.5 million digital copies of Far Cry 5. Compared to Far Cry Primal, that’s an increase of 500%. If you don’t trust their numbers, check out NPD Groups 2016 game sales numbers as reported by VG24/7. In 2016, digital video games and add-ons accounted for 74% of gaming money spent in the United States. I’m expecting digital sales numbers along these lines from other publishers when the next set of earning seasons announcements starts.
To keep the momentum growing, all Microsoft and Sony need to do is give us reasons to keep building a digital library. Xbox Game Pass and Xbox Play Anywhere do just that for Xbox One buyers. PlayStation Now subscriptions and digital extras do that job on PlayStation 4.
Please excuse me while I switch from doing challenges in Batman: Arkham Knight to playing Just Cause 3 without getting off my couch or putting a disc in my console. I don’t often get these things right, so I’m taking my victory lap.