I know it’s hard for people to even fathom the end to brick and mortar video game stores, but the truth is in the numbers.
In 2012, Consoles (all types) plunged by 21%
According to NPD Group, physical game sales fell from $11 billion in 2011 to less than $9 billion last year. GameStop says sales of new video games over the holiday season dropped by about 5%, and sales of used games dropped by 16%.
The worst quarter Gamestop has ever seen.
Sales of digital games grew 16% over the past two years. If you compare the gaming industry to the music industry, right now we’re in the pre-iTunes era. All we need is a new gadget to make digital more mainstream, more friendly and more convenient. Discs are still the primary form of information storage for video games, but that is quickly changing.
At the end of this year, Sony and Microsoft will be releasing the next gen gaming consoles and with both systems comes the allure of the cloud systems the companies have heavily invested in. And with Sony setting the precedent with digital sale discounts, (like steam) purchasing games online will become favorable to running down to the Game store to buy a disk.
It’s not going to happen right away. We stand at the precipice of it’s change but people just don’t know it.
As the technology becomes less expensive and more convenient, so will the push towards a fully digital age in gaming.
Now as far as DRM being a inevitability, it’s not. We already know that Steam is planning to implement a ‘digital sharing’ system for the Steam system (and Steam Box)
And since Steam has been the leader in digital gaming, going this route will help set the tone for the digital age.
Gamers will be more apt to jump into the digital age head first, if the waters look inviting and safe. By implementing game sharing technologies to the consoles, allowing offline play and offering digital discounts, the waters will look like a big ass fluffy cloud of sweet sweet awesomeness.
This is where we’re headed. Sony, Microsoft, and Valve are all going to be going to war to see who can effectively become that age’s king in the next five-ten years.