Are retail video games in decline?

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fireside 141 Feb 22, 2012 at 16:57

I was looking at this article at Gamasutra:

http://www.gamasutra…l_in_the_UK.php

which looks a little depressing. I think people are playing more games than ever, but more of them are free or nearly free. It’s also the end of the cycle for consoles which is kind of normal to drop. Companies are also transitioning to downloaded games.

I’ve always been pretty cheap with games. I don’t buy them very often at all. They seem pretty expensive compared to hardware. I know game companies spend a lot making them, but it’s hard for me to shell out the money. I can usually wait till they’re less popular. I’ve never been into social gaming.

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alphadog 101 Feb 24, 2012 at 15:05

The article is on the decline of video game retailing. I think retailing in general has been on the decline.

Not sure what is depressing about it. I personally find it exciting that I don’t have to fight idiots in mall crowds to get what I need, likely making me spend more than I used to. For example, I’ve downloaded lots of games for my PS3 from the Store. I dare say that I have shelled out more because of that convenience versus going to the store.

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fireside 141 Feb 24, 2012 at 16:46

Technically, a downloaded game that you pay for is retail, however, I don’t think those were included now that I skimmed the article again. I think those are boxed sales. It’s definitely a market in change, so if they don’t find ways to measure it accurately, it’s going to give false results. My buying habits are much different lately. I buy a lot more at Amazon and I download a little bit more. I’m sure that’s just going to increase, although I still prefer a boxed copy if I can get it on sale. I saw one game at Amazon that was a lot cheaper as a boxed copy than as a download, which seems weird.

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geon 101 Feb 24, 2012 at 19:19

@fireside

They seem pretty expensive compared to hardware.

Off topic, but console hardware is usually heavily subsidized.

I think price is an important factor. It sees to me that commercial indie game development have grown a lot the last 5-10 years. With Steam, Xbox live, the max/ios/android appstores there is a large selection of great games for low prices. And SURPRISE! They are not sold in physical shops.

Also the diversity benefits a lot from the indie scene. Considering that the 3 biggest titles of 2011 are virtually identical (bf3, mw, crysis3) it is needed.

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TheNut 179 Feb 24, 2012 at 21:11

I agree with alphadog. I think box copies of games are more or less on the decline. If you factor in digital distribution (which the author claimed he didn’t) then the results will adjust accordingly. When Skyrim was released on Steam, there was something like 75,000 players on the first day, eventually climbing to around 110,000. That’s about 4.5 - 6.6 million USD you can add to his chart. The indie scene has also gained a lot of momentum, and they’re all digital distribution. There’s also the free to play games. Millions download for nothing, but the authors earn royalties on the adverts. Then there’s the new wave of monetization which focus on in-game purchases. I’m sure you’ve read about Smurf Village and Farmville? Valve has also adopted this monetization model in TF2. On Valentine’s Day they had a special promo “Buy something special for someone special” in their in-game store. $100 ring you could buy and “propose” to your significant gamer. Needless to say, that’s a couple grand in the pocket for virtually zero effort. All hidden figures unbeknownst to the world.

I don’t think there’s grounds for concern with the gaming industry though. Even if things fall short one or two years, things are still really good. Gaming has come a long way since the 80s and 90s. Technology is making it much easier for people to access new content without having a degree in science (notwithstanding Android users, mwaha ;).

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alphadog 101 Feb 28, 2012 at 15:47

@fireside

Technically, a downloaded game that you pay for is retail

Actually, no. Retailing implies a physical location. And, yes, it is different. You have quite a few major differences like having to manage shelf space, as opposed to online stores which don’t have to worry about that. But, the author of the article made a poor distinction and the discussion will be muddied.

As for preferring a boxed version, I don’t generally care either way. I am not concerned that GameStop and ilk will maybe go out of the gamer-gouging business (although they’ve made huge inroads into digital distribution). However, I am concerned with the loss of one of mygames. Should Steam go belly up, whence go my games?

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fireside 141 Feb 29, 2012 at 15:49

Actually, no. Retailing implies a physical location.

I think there is some kind of understanding like that, but the definition, the only one that applies is:
”: to sell in small quantities directly to the ultimate consumer “

That’s what retail actually is, and downloaded games are technically retail. I’m sure that understanding whatever it is will change or we will find another word for downloaded games, but it doesn’t make much sense to use a different word. I’ve heard some people call it “brick and mortar” retail to distinguish it from online sales. You still have places like Amazon that sell boxed copies, but online, and don’t really fit that description either.

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Stainless 151 Feb 29, 2012 at 15:58

The decline is in physical media.

The sales of music cd’s, games dvd’s etc are in decline with more and more people downloading their purchases.

Interestingly though, sales of vinyl records are increasing rapidly.

There is an old Chinese curse that springs to mind.

“May you live in interesting times”

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fireside 141 Feb 29, 2012 at 16:12

May you live in interesting times

I’m sure it’s interesting for anyone selling AAA titles right now. I know EA is trying to convert with it’s Origin online company, or whatever it is. I think most of them are basically doing all right, and they are actually getting in touch with a larger audience, I think. Trouble is, there is more competition, also.

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alphadog 101 Mar 01, 2012 at 13:08

@fireside

I think there is some kind of understanding like that, but the definition, the only one that applies is:
”: to sell in small quantities directly to the ultimate consumer “

True. But usually people say “retail” vs “online” when in conversation. The author may want to check his numbers with that in mind.

And, there we go why there are lies, damned lies, and statistics… :)