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Gamers spent $3.4 billion on both physical and digital games in the first quarter, according to market researcher NPD Group.
Consumers spent nearly half of that amount, $1.5 billion, on PC and console games in physical stores. Meanwhile, they spent $525 million on used and rental games and $1.38 billion on digital games, including content downloads, subscriptions, mobile games, and social network games. The numbers show that digital games are very close to exceeding physical retail game sales.
“The declines in the physical market for new physical software are well documented,” said Anita Frazier, an industry analyst for The NPD Group. “But a broader view of the games industry shows that other physical content sales, the combination of used and rental, declined by just 5 percent and digital format content sales grew by 10 percent as compared to Q1 2011. While the growth in digital format sales does not yet offset the declines in physical format sales, clearly the changes occurring within the industry are reflected in the trends we are seeing in the research.”
Research in the United Kingdom, France, and Germany shows that consumers spent $300 million on used and rental games and $959 million on digital games in the first quarter.
“Relative to the spend in the U.S., we find that the consumer spend on mobile games is still developing in the three European countries we are covering, while the spend on full game and add-on content digital downloads and subscriptions is more highly developed,” said Frazier.