Do you buy digital console games? If you do, EA predicts you will make up 40% of sales by the end of 2017 across the entire industry. The publisher made the comments in yesterday’s financial call. And it’s backed up by EA’s own data.
Full game downloads made up 33% of unit sales according to EA. That’s ahead of the 29% they were expecting and 9% higher than what EA reported last year. That number is only expected to grow throughout 2017. EA is expecting full game downloads will make up 38% of its console unit sales this year.
EA’s CFO Blake Jorgensen was even more bullish when he threw out the around 40% figure for the industry as a whole. Check out the Seeking Alpha transcript for the entire call.
Digital or physical?
I started this generation with physical games but quickly went all digital. Why? There are a few reasons. Gamesharing with my brother is the biggest. I buy a game and we both can play it. And vice versa. And you save money in the end too if you take turns buying games.
Midnight launches are also easier to do digitally, especially if you live in rural areas like me. It’s also handy if you live in other timezones. Game unlocks at midnight EST, and folks further west can play it earlier.
Plus, services like EA Access nudge me towards digital. Play Battlefield 1 for ten hours before release and then buy it digitally.
There are downsides, though. Physical games let you get some of your money back via trade-ins/selling. Plus, Amazon (Amazon Prime) and Best Buy (Gamers Club) offer cheaper launch prices on physical games. If it weren’t for gamesharing, I would be buying from one of these two.
Digital’s march to overtake physical
It appears inevitable. I don’t think digital will ever get close to approaching 100%, though. Not as long as Amazon and Best Buy are offering discounts on games at launch. Hell, there are still physical PC games even with Steam.
Many of us have already made the switch to all digital. The last game I bought physically was Mortal Kombat X. And that’s only because I was using Gamefly and decided to keep it. My last day 1 physical game purchase was probably when the PS4 launched. The only physical game I have laying around anymore is Battlefield 4.
EA also touched on the overall health of the console industry and expects the install base for the current generation to grow to 105 million by the end of 2017. PS4 continues its dominating lead ahead of Xbox One (outselling globally around two-to-one). We’ll see how Xbox’s Phil Spencer plans on eating into that lead when they unveil Project Scorpio at E3.
What about you? Do features like gamesharing push you firmly into the digital camp? Or do prices at Amazon/Best Buy keep you buying physical?