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Digital vs. physical games

Physical game copies might soon become a relic of the past. This kind of future is projected by the latest statistics which show a rapid decline of games sold via physical stores. Most gamers are purchasing cheaper digital game copies online, so the number of boxed games sold is steadily declining.

According to recently released numbers, the United States games market which is considered one of the largest gaming markets in the world is already favouring digital game copies. For example, in 2009 digital market share was only 20 percent, however, for the last couple of years the tides have turned and now digital game sales are claiming around 80 percent of all games sold.

Why is this happening?

There are many reasons why digital sales are booming while physical games continue to decline. First and foremost is the platform support for the digital market – PC market is ruled by digital key distribution platforms and other game stores. Console manufacturers such as Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo keeps on developing their digital platforms offering a convenient games acquisition route with a single button press. Even the hardwares are following the path laid by the digital era – recently, Microsoft announced their new Xbox One S console which won’t even have a disc drive.

Another key reason is the price. Digital copies often cost a lot cheaper than their physical counterparts. For publishers, providing a digital copy of the game cost nothing, while physical releases include box and print expenses, logistics and so on.

R.I.P. physical games?

Although it seems like physical copies are counting their last days, this format still has some pros against digital games. Probably the biggest reason why digital variant is still a point of consideration for most players is the existence of the secondary market. Players who have once bought a physical copy of the game can resell it to other players and return at least a partial amount of money spent earlier.

Another big reason is the sentimental value. Some of us just like to collect things. For example, music fans collect vinyl records although there are services like iTunes, Spotify etc. Bookworms collect their favourite paperback novels, even though digital books are way cheaper than their physical counterparts. Same principle works with games.

Its safe to say that digital vs physical games purchase ratio will continue to shift into the digitalism favour, but to say that physical game copies will die off is a bit too brave. There will always be a guy, or a girl who would rather buy the collector’s edition, than a cheap digital copy.