April 14, 2024

Are physical games really not selling anymore? The numbers


There is always one talked a lot around the turn of the market Digital copies only of many games, as is the confirmed case Hellblade IIor as it was recently called Alan Wake 2. So in the last few hours it has become clear that… Xbox layoffs There would also be a reduction in the team responsible for the procedures for publishing physical copies of titles – with the result that the future increasingly appears purely digital, as has already happened to players on PC.

But have we already reached the final tipping point with digital-only consoles like the Xbox Series S (and the original PS5 Digital, although the new slim model is modular)? From this point of view, the numbers are interesting.

What console does someone who buys physical copies play on?

In the last few hours, veteran market analyst Mat Piscatella of Circana had posted a few tweets – which were then mysteriously deleted, perhaps because some misunderstood them, but You can still see them here – in which he discussed each console manufacturer's share of the retail market, i.e. physical copies.

According to the numbers owned by the analyst All numbers for 2023 in the US market the sale of physical copies of platform games Nintendo they represented over 50% of the total. However, the question is completely different Xboxwhere we talk less than 10% of total sales physical games in the US market.

According to analyst data, Xbox, which is already a predominantly digital platform, accounts for less than 10% of all physical copies sold in the US.

Numbers that, when we think about it, make a lot of sense: The Xbox Series S is hugely popular (you'll recall that it was even more popular than physical copies of the series).

As Piscatella stated before he deleted the tweet, we talked the percentage of the physical marketno comparison between physical and digital games: This means that for every 100 physical games sold, less than 10 were for Xbox platforms and over 50 were for Nintendo platforms.

The data is particularly interesting given Xbox's decision to limit sales of physical games: it is a market in which the Redmond giant is unlikely to be interested in spending, given its subscription model and its move to the Cloud points in the completely opposite direction.

But how many physical copies will be sold?

To get an overview of market developments, it is also interesting to find out how many physical copies are actually still being sold. We could take me with you in this regard Figures for the second quarter of the 2023 financial year from PlayStationwhere it was stated, from all receipts of Sony Interactive Entertainmentonly the 4% came from physical video game sales.

For clarification, among other things All revenue from PlayStation salesthe numbers were distributed as follows:

  • 30% from the sale of Hardware;
  • 23% from the sale of DLC And Add-ons;
  • 21% from the sale of digital video games;
  • 14% come on Online services;
  • 6% from another;
  • 4% from the sale of physical copy of video games;
  • 2% from the sale of other software.

Recorded revenue was 954.1 billion yen, of which 25.5 billion came from physical video game sales. This despite the fact that PlayStation is one of the platforms on which there are the most players I like you to the physical format.

As also highlighted by gaming industryIn fact, data on the UK market highlights that more than half of the copies sold by Hogwarts legacy – last year's huge commercial success – was released on PlayStation platforms. And at the same time, Hogwarts legacy it was that too best-selling retail format game of 2023 in the UK.

However, it is interesting to note that the Physical gaming revenuealthough they were slightly down in Sony's analyzed second quarter, they are improving compared to the past (thanks, ResetEra). Specifically, physical copies resulted in year-over-year PlayStation sales of:

  • 28.6 billion of the yen in the second quarter of the fiscal year2019;
  • 34.1 billion of the yen in the second quarter of the fiscal year2020;
  • 28.1 billion of the yen in the second quarter of the fiscal year2021;
  • 37.1 billion of the yen in the second quarter of the fiscal year2022;
  • 35.5 billion of the yen in the second quarter of the fiscal year2023.

In short, since the launch of the PS5 in 2020, trends have remained rather stable, although the difficulties in 2021 may also be due to the impossibility of purchasing the new console and therefore the new games without problems.

If you wanted to look at the trend in the various consecutive quarters and not year-on-year, you would see that the numbers are pretty stable and apart from an increase in the third quarter due to releases (where both digital and retail sales are actually growing) . ) No, they are big shocks.

PlayStation sales revenue (in yen)

Sales Q1 FY 2022 Q2 FY 2022 Q3 FY 2022 Q4 FY 2022 Full financial year 2022 Q1 FY 2023 Q2 FY 2023
of physical games 19.4 billion 37.1 billion 93.5 billion 43.4 billion 193.4 billion 24.4 billion 35.5 billion
from digital games 101 billion 144.5 billion 244.7 billion 170.5 billion 660.9 billion 153.3 billion 200.9 billion

An interesting fact to analyze in order to understand the small fluctuations in the market for physical copies – which, however, as it turns out, continues to maintain its share, however small it may be compared to digital copies – could also be the one of the series FIFA/EA Sports FC. We know it is extremely popular in European markets and its performance numbers can easily be found on the shelves of UK gamers.

Compared to the dizzying declines years ago, the share of retail sales appears to have stabilized, albeit small.

According to reports from gaming industry, FIFA 23 recorded growth in Selling physical copies in the introductory week compared to the previous one FIFA 22with an increase of 1.6%, which, although minimal, broke a downward trend that had already lasted two years in a row in the retail market.

The first episode with the new name, EA Sports FC 24instead he suffered a little more, with a 30% decline in retail sales available on the UK market in launch week. Overall, football has established itself as a game in 2023 Best seller in the UK for the calendar year – Adding both physical and digital sales.

In short, it is a fact that the retail market now has a very small share compared to the digital market. However, it is also true that after the sudden decline in the 1910s, with the emergence of online services and stores, now However, this very small part appears to have stabilizedcounting on the hard core of enthusiasts to buy the physical copy.

It is also difficult to say whether and how it will still exist in ten years whether the console market will follow exactly the same path as the PC market (although even the physical copy only contains a code to redeem the title in a digital store) – which will also likely lead to losses in production and distribution.

What does emerge quite clearly, however, is the reason for Xbox's decision, which has already been moving away from traditional physical media for some time and with limited success, given the popularity of Game Pass that of the S series.

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