Will You Buy A Game Digitally In 2018? Flip A Coin.

Steve Anderson : End Game
Steve Anderson
The Video Store Guy
| The video game industry has gone from a mole hill to a mountain in no time flat, Chris DiMarco is your Sherpa as you endeavor to scale Mount “Everquest”

Will You Buy A Game Digitally In 2018? Flip A Coin.

A new report from the market research firm EEDAR presents a new and interesting portrait of the upcoming landscape as far as game sales go, and the idea has some deep implications for the gaming market as we know it. By 2018, according to the EEDAR report, around half of all console gaming sales will be sold by digital download. That means some very big changes to come in how games are marketed, and understanding these changes will likely go a long way in terms of helping game developers come to grips with success in the market.

While 50 percent sounds like a pretty big number in isolation—basically every other game sold will be sold via digital download—the comparative numbers make the picture all the more unusual. Right now—in 2014—the average share of the digital download market is actually under 20 percent. While digital downloads are seeing much bigger growth than sales at brick-and-mortar outlets, digital downloads are still a small slice of the market, though that won't be the case much longer if the EEDAR report comes to pass.

That's the key trigger point right there; the amount of games sold online is poised to better than double. But it's still only going to be about half the market, which means that game makers are going to have to split their collective forces in order to work both sides of the street. While the big city types will be mostly downloading games—owing to the fact that they'll have the bandwidth to get in on the action, for the most part—the small town crew will be focusing on discs, as they're often still waiting for even a decent DSL provider to step in and offer a comparatively slow connection that's still much better than any they've seen before. Naturally, there will be intermingling—some cities have terrible access, while some rural areas can get a pretty nice connection available to them—but we' re still looking at a diffuse environment here.

Consider further the role of game stores; stores like Gamestop and the like that depend on games and game resale numbers will be losing a pretty healthy slug of business as more gamers turn to their Internet connections to get games. But game stores near those places without the proper connection, meanwhile, will likely continue to do well. It's almost like video stores; a bigger city may not actually have one in place, but a small town might still have a couple on hand thanks to the lack of streaming infrastructure.

With the changes in marketing measures, there will also be huge differences in the way companies go after customers—EEDAR projects it will be all about careful targeting and retaining the customer—and the number of big-name games is likely to also decline as costs increase, and the amount of market remains the same.

So it becomes clear that there are a lot of changes in store for how games are not only made, but also marketed. With so much of the market going digital, promotion is going to have to have an increased focus on the download market. But that's going to draw attention from the disc market, and that in turn might cost sales on that front. With fewer, but bigger, games to emerge—not to mention an increased focus on the field in general from the indie game developer market—that's going to shake up the landscape for some time to come. There are bigger changes afoot than anyone can begin to consider, yet begin we must...and then some.

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