With the year coming to a close, we’re all being inundated with best-of-2014 lists that cover pretty much every topic out there. And as easy as it is to throw some shade at said lists, they tend to arrive with some useful information about what we’ve seen in the past 12 months. That’s especially true of a recent CNET article that looked into the spending habits of gamers in 2014.
The majority of the piece is about how Sony and Microsoft were able to gain some financial ground in November, thanks in part to price cuts and bundles. For example, that PlayStation 4 bundle with Grand Theft Auto V and The Last of Us for just $399? Pretty difficult to resist. That being said, those lower prices may have apparently hurt the gaming companies more than anything else, as revenue only increased 3 percent over the previous year.
Toward the bottom of the article, however, there is some good that’s come from all of this. It appears that consumers are favoring digital purchases as opposed to buying physical copies of games from brick-and-mortar retailers. According to Super Data Research, “digital gamers spent 23 percent more around Thanksgiving compared to last year.” They noted that digital sales typically don’t increase alongside the usual retailer spikes, but the aforementioned console price cuts probably had something to do with the surge. Per their numbers, “digital mobile and console game sales [earned] revenues of $355 million and $111 million, respectively.”
Could this growing interest in buying digital games mean that we’ll be seeing less of an emphasis on physical copies moving forward? It’ll be interesting to see when and if that becomes the standard, though it’s likely that physical copies aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. For one, owning a digital copy of something that costs upwards of $60 doesn’t necessarily feel the same as owning the actual disc. Also, what about if you want to sell or return that game? The latter appears doable, as noted in this PlayStation forum post, but it seems like the game will need to be completely unplayable to get a refund of any kind.
While these reports of an increase in digital sales are interesting, this news isn’t anything terribly, well, new for some gamers out there. For example, while bingo enthusiasts of the world surely still exist hipsters have apparently taken to the game, according to the Wall Street Journal, it’s mostly being played online and through digital means. With good reason, though, because these hubs allow people to play the game and interact with one another without leaving the comfort of their homes. This is particularly evident on Betfair bingo, a platform that encourages its users to strike up conversations both with other players and the hosts of the games. In doing so, there’s a community atmosphere built that previously was only achieved through heading to an actual venue.
Given the more digital nature of everything we consume, none of this is overwhelmingly surprising. Instead, it just supports the idea that anything that can be digital will be digital and that, perhaps, consumers are becoming more and more OK with that. Hey, if it leads to low-price console bundles and improved gamer communities as written about above, that all seems totally fine to me.