Digital PC Download Sales Rival Retail

Digital PC Download Sales Rival Retail

During 2009, digital PC game downloads managed to achieve almost the same sales figures as boxed retail games, according to market watchers the NPD Group. New statistics and sales analysis show that sales of boxed PC games in the US totaled 23.5 million units, while digital PC game sales ultimately tallied up at 21.3 million units.

NPD’s latest report classifies digital retailers by two categories, including casual retailers (those offering casual games downloads like hidden object and puzzle games through traditional try-before-you-buy time trial methods) and frontline digital retailers, which specialize in larger, more traditional releases, similar to what you’d find on store shelves. Leading casual retailers such as Big Fish Games and Pogo reportedly declined in market share to the benefit of frontline retailers including Steam, Direct2Drive and EA.com.

NPD was also kind enough to identify the top five casual and frontline digtial retailers as follows:

Top 5 Frontline Digital Retailers – 2009 (based on unit % share)

1. Steampowered.com
2. Direct2drive.com
3. Blizzard.com
4. EA.com
5. Worldofwarcraft.com

Top 5 Casual Digital Retailers – 2009 (based on unit % share)

1. Bigfishgames.com
2. Pogo.com
3. Gamehouse.com
4. iWin.com
5. Realarcade.com

“The popularity of social network gaming increased from Q3 ’09 to Q4 ’09 as 4.8 million more people played games on a social network in the U.S.,” said Anita Frazier, NPD analyst. “This demonstrates how consumers can now experience casual types of games through myriad vehicles, broadening the competitive landscape.”

Now if only there were a way to cross-reference sales of indie games, purchases of virtual goods, microtransactions, MMO subscriptions and other connected business methods and outlets with this data – we suspect that the end result might look even more shocking still. Or maybe not, depending on your perspective: How many of today’s most dedicated PC gamers are unaware that the most exciting action was occurring online? No offense, of course, to all three of you who absolutely, positively have to own Mafia II: Collector’s Edition – we’re sure the orchestral CD soundtrack is eBay gold.

About Scott Steinberg
Scott Steinberg is CEO of strategic consulting and product testing firm TechSavvy Global, and a noted keynote speaker and business expert. Hailed as a top tech expert and parenting guru by critics from USA Today to NPR, he’s also an on-air analyst for ABC, CBS and CNN.

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