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Game Buyers Prefer Retail over Digital Distribution

Interpret LLC announced that its latest report, The Rise of Social Commerce, finds that 80% of gamers don’t purchase games digitally and the 20% that do also purchase more games at retail than their non-downloading counterparts.

According to the statement, Interpret’s data shows that, from Q1 2009 to the same period in 2010, digital distribution grew moderately on both core PC platforms (Valve’s Steam, Direct2Drive, publisher websites) and consoles (Xbox Live Marketplace, PlayStation Network Store, WiiWare), while simultaneously decreasing significantly on casual PC platforms (major casual game portal sites) as casual gamers abandoned those destinations in favor of social (Facebook) and mobile (iPhone OS) gaming.

Anxieties over the potential of digital distribution to rapidly disrupt retail business may be unfounded. The 20% of the game-playing population that digitally downloads games also purchases 2.7 games, on average, every 6 months at retail locations – 20% more retail purchases than those who never buy digitally.

“It is critical that both the publishing and retail sides of the game industry avoid overreacting to a vision of rapid transition to digital distribution that fails to reflect reality,” said Brenton Lyle, Managing Strategist, Interpret LLC. “Whether or not all game sales are digital in ten years, right now the virtues of the retail environment, including convenience, trained sales staff, and the opportunity to encourage impulse buys, are as important as ever.”

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