Report: Gamers Prefer Digital Downloads and Used Games Over Brick and Mortar Stores and New Sales

on December 21, 2011 6:00 PM

Looks like traditional brick-and-mortar retailers have been ousted as the top earners for the games industry, at least in the U.S. A new study by NPD Group shows that gamers preferred digital distribution channels and used game sellers to satiate their appetites for interactive experiences.

According to the study, we spent $4.2 billion on video games last quarter. The majority of that was dedicated to software, which made up $2.94 billion altogether, $1.3 billion being the share new game sales claimed. That means $1.64 billion of the total we spent on games last quarter were through used games dealers or digital distribution networks like Steam and the Xbox LIVE Marketplace.

The “other” category is pretty broad, though. Not only does it include online marketplaces, but it also lumps together rental and streaming services as well as used game sales as a whole. The study didn’t discriminate between corporations like GameStop and independently owned used game stores.

But it’s not surprising to see this trend. After all, online retailers have had a leg-up over their brick-and-mortar brethren for some time so it’s only natural for one of the biggest consumer industries in the world follows the trend. Of course, that’s not to say publishers and developers don’t see the benefit of providing their products on retail shelves.

Where do you fall in this study? While I attained more of my games through digital distribution and used game stores, I spent more on new titles. It’s an interesting thing to gauge, to say the least.

 /  Staff Writer
Eder is a journalism major at the University of Oregon and copy chief of Flux, the School of Journalism and Communication's flagship magazine. When he's not playing video games or writing about them, Eder enjoys going to concerts, walking the UO campus with his trusty iPod, James McCloud, and climbing steep hills in running shoes. His favorite games include Super Mario Bros. 3, Donkey Kong Country 2, Bioshock and The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time.