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Downloads account for 48 percent of PC game sales

Downloads account for 48 percent of PC game sales

The NPD Group has finally begun collecting stats on digital PC game sales.

The NPD Group has just released the first batch of results from its first survey of digital distribution sales, revealing that close to half of all PC game sales now take place online within the US.

The NPD Group collates information about game sales but, until today, has only collected receipts from retail stores. The group now estimates that around 48 percent of all PC games are sold through digital distributors like Steam.

The figures mean that previously announced sales figures have not fully reflected the state of the PC games market, having a margin of error as large as 21.3 million units.

NPD has revealed the top five digital distributors of PC games that are also available at retail (i.e. not casual games portals). The list (below) makes for interesting reading, especially since the number #5 slot is a distributor which really only sells one game...

1. Steampowered.com
2. Direct2Drive.com
3. Blizzard.com
4. EA.com
5. WorldofWarcraft.com

The new statistics definitely raise concerns that the digital market is being monopolised by Valve and Blizzard, especially with GamersGate and Impulse being notably absent from the above list. On the plus side, the announcement does paint the PC games market in a much better light than some might have assumed.

Let us know your thoughts in the forums.

33 Comments

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Pete J 22nd July 2010, 11:18 Quote
So, does this mean that piracy estimates are actually now (even more) completely inaccurate?
Jezcentral 22nd July 2010, 11:33 Quote
Nah, It means piracy is at 90% instead of 95%.
Jezcentral 22nd July 2010, 11:33 Quote
Allegedly.
Isitari 22nd July 2010, 11:43 Quote
based on one study
borandi 22nd July 2010, 12:01 Quote
I prefer getting download versions of games through Steam. Means I don't have to arse around with the CD/DVD or a no-CD/DVD crack.
V3ctor 22nd July 2010, 12:23 Quote
Steam is the new Google... It will become evil :D :D
deathtaker27 22nd July 2010, 12:28 Quote
Blizzard and world of warcraft, its basically the same game they sell, blizzard may sell some others though, wow steam has the market here
Dannythemusicman 22nd July 2010, 12:53 Quote
Not surprised, nor am I worred. In terms of customer satisfaction my experience with Steam has been for the most part entirely happy and I have every confidence it will continue that way.

Anybody who has experienced EAs systems over the years will know that it's a wonder that they're even at number 4.
Spongeblunt 22nd July 2010, 12:57 Quote
With the deals Steam offer if you're willing to hold off on games for a few months it's no wonder digital downloads are doing so well. Didn't think GTA4 or Burnout Paradise were worth £30-50 on release? Wait a year and they're £4.99 on Steam :D

..and at the end of the day you can always sell your Steam account if you get bored of your games :)
TWeaK 22nd July 2010, 13:25 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Spongeblunt
..and at the end of the day you can always sell your Steam account if you get bored of your games :)

I've always thought about that but the trouble is if you've got around 30-50 games on it you probably don't want to get rid of them all! You could always create a new account for every game, although I'm pretty sure there's something in the Steam EULA that says you can't sell an account on..
Woodspoon 22nd July 2010, 13:31 Quote
Steam is God, love your God, play daily.
WarrenJ 22nd July 2010, 14:00 Quote
There's not many players is there, so, where's the Windows Games on demand service? I am entirely happy with the service Steam offers. I don't have to worry about finding Lost Disks or CD Keys that have gone missing. All is there and all can be downloaded overnight in most cases.
Veles 22nd July 2010, 14:10 Quote
So blizzard and wow are in the top 5, and all those sales at blizzard.com are probably wow related too (do they sell anything else digitally yet?)
Notional 22nd July 2010, 14:34 Quote
2 Companies cannot monopolize the same market. The digital download market is a Differentiated oligopoly.

Furthermore, Valve wanted to create Steam with others (EA, MS i think); none were interested, so the companies really only have themselves to blame for valves success.
Pete J 22nd July 2010, 14:52 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by TWeaK
I'm pretty sure there's something in the Steam EULA that says you can't sell an account on..
That's what I've been lead to believe.
theflatworm 22nd July 2010, 14:54 Quote
There's no way they could have counted every single digital distribution outlet. So, I'd say it's likely to be well over half. I've bought dozens of games in the last year, and I've only bought one physical CD, and that's only because the price differential was 2 to 1.
Lord-Vale3 22nd July 2010, 16:18 Quote
Dont like Steam, I like physical copies. I like the redundancy and security they provide.
DriftCarl 22nd July 2010, 16:30 Quote
I love steam, never have to worry about a scrathed or lost CD again. loginto my account and download the full game, on up to 5 differetn computers i believe.
PureSilver 22nd July 2010, 16:34 Quote
I love Steam, but I'm worried that eventually their monopoly of the market is going to start negatively affecting their prices...
Parge 22nd July 2010, 16:47 Quote
When I was a poor student, I used to pirate games all the time. Now I work, I never pirate games (100% true)

Now, I almost exclusively buy my games on Steam.
murraynt 22nd July 2010, 17:44 Quote
Since i got a steam account i haven't pirated a game, as it is slower and game on steam work perfectly and can be had for 5 euro n sale
RallyRoach 22nd July 2010, 17:48 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Parge
When I was a poor student, I used to pirate games all the time. Now I work, I never pirate games (100% true)

Now, I almost exclusively buy my games on Steam.

This is me to 95%, tho I have been known to, ahem, "create my own demo" if none exists for games I'm really not sure of, then purchase. Though even that is going down because the odd games (Mirror's Edge for example) usually end up for 5.99 specials on Steam within a year. Don't feel so bad about possibly wasting that if I don't like it.
ssj12 22nd July 2010, 18:04 Quote
considering its the NPD Group, I expect that these numbers are off (low). Valve doesn't release download data so the NPD Group's estimates are based off Valve's top sellers charts???
oasked 22nd July 2010, 18:20 Quote
I don't generally tend to buy games on Steam these days because its more expensive (bizarely) than online retailers, or even real shops!

UK pricing is a bit of a joke unless the game is pretty old and their doing a special promotion.
shanky887614 22nd July 2010, 19:04 Quote
one problem i have with this servey

it says it collects reciepts from stores
what about websites like amazon which deliver the phisical medium?

usually its cheaper online so i dont see how it is 48%
30% maybe but i dont htink that half the market download the games because most new games now are dual layer dvd's or 9gb per disk
SMIFFYDUDE 22nd July 2010, 20:28 Quote
I hardly ever used to download games because of awful download speed, but Steam's summer sale a few weeks back was just too good to resist and I ended up buying about 8 games. GTA 4 took about 3 days to download but at £5 it was worth it.
DraigUK 23rd July 2010, 02:00 Quote
If you have a decent download speed Steam is by far the most convenient and reliable place to get games, usually some great deals going on as well.

Can't remember the last time I actually bought a game in a real store, many years ago now. Went from buying them in store to buying online from places such as Amazon. Buying from places such as Steam is simply the logical progression from that.

I'm actually downloading a supposedly fun (and free) game from Steam right now called Alien Swarm.

Will probably take me about 30 mins or so at worst.

Just can't go wrong with it.
murraynt 23rd July 2010, 02:21 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by DraigUK
If you have a decent download speed Steam is by far the most convenient and reliable place to get games, usually some great deals going on as well.

Can't remember the last time I actually bought a game in a real store, many years ago now. Went from buying them in store to buying online from places such as Amazon. Buying from places such as Steam is simply the logical progression from that.

I'm actually downloading a supposedly fun (and free) game from Steam right now called Alien Swarm.

Will probably take me about 30 mins or so at worst.

Just can't go wrong with it.

It's an excellent game
pbun 23rd July 2010, 05:22 Quote
Alien Swarm is not bad but I think Alien breed is a better game cos of the better control handling as well as graphics.Steam is cool but has anyone try GOG(good old games ) for old DOS games?Wish their pricing(GOG) was better thought.
13eightyfour 23rd July 2010, 09:20 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by pbun
Alien Swarm is not bad but I think Alien breed is a better game cos of the better control handling as well as graphics.Steam is cool but has anyone try GOG(good old games ) for old DOS games?Wish their pricing(GOG) was better thought.

The thing with GOG is that the games will run on newer OS's, you could probably buy a physical disc a little cheaper but i doubt it would run, without some form of crack/hack or maybe not work at all.
So the pricing isnt too bad when you get a game that will just work imo.
October 24th July 2010, 02:09 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by shanky887614

usually its cheaper online so i dont see how it is 48%
30% maybe but i dont htink that half the market download the games because most new games now are dual layer dvd's or 9gb per disk

It's going by units sold, not the money involved. Prices fluctuate far too often to use them as a scale.
Quote:
The new statistics definitely raise concerns that the digital market is being monopolised by Valve and Blizzard

I really don't understand why this is a concern. It's not like Steam is exorbitantly dear, in fact I'm pretty sure their sales etc are the only reason they're currently at the top. Why is it such a bad thing that people are actually using a useful, well-run, sensible service?
*brian* 24th July 2010, 10:24 Quote
It's only recently that my brother and I have had internet access at home, before then I had the hassle of taking his computer into work to activate games. That's gripe no. 1.

Gripe no. 2 is that you 'can't' re-sell a game when you've finished with it.

Like with my music, I like to have a physical product, so having no game disc doesn't appeal to me.
Acerimmer1 13th February 2011, 19:40 Quote
Games for Windows marketplace U FAIL!! Mwahahaha
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