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Hard evidence that digital distribution is slowly taking over for physical copies.

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No point in buying physical unless it's on Nintendo. Physical copies on the Switch run as soon as you put them in the Switch with a few updates, but on Xbox and PS4 the disc is just a license, the game doesn't run off the disc, you have to download the full game, and keep the disc inside to play, complete inconvenience when you can just buy digital and ignore having to put a new disc in every time you want to play a different game.



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TheBird said:
No point in buying physical unless it's on Nintendo. Physical copies on the Switch run as soon as you put them in the Switch with a few updates, but on Xbox and PS4 the disc is just a license, the game doesn't run off the disc, you have to download the full game, and keep the disc inside to play, complete inconvenience when you can just buy digital and ignore having to put a new disc in every time you want to play a different game.

I think the game still installs from the disc, so it doesn't necessarily download it. I do think that there are pros and cons, the pros is that the disc tray will last longer, the con is that you run out of hard drive space more quickly than say for the Switch. However, even if disc swapping is a minor inconvenience, it's one I'm willing to put up with, I love just admiring and looking at the game cases personally, reading through the back of the case (and if there is one the manual) along with smelling that new game smell!



flashfire926 said:

Now, we have numbers from the platform holder itself. In FY 2015, 19% of software sold on PS4 was via digital distribution. In just two years, that number has increased to 32% for FY 2017. That's a significant change in such a short time.

Games you get for free with PS+ count as a sale. (You get a confirmation e-mail saying "Thank you for your purchase".)
As the PS4 userbase grows, so do the number of PS+ subscriptions. I'm not saying this accounts for everything, but it should be a factor. A few games a month can add up to quite a lot, considering a few years ago I believe the average system owner bought c.a. 5 games in the consoles lifetime. But when game's are free, there's another incentive there.

Aside from more people preferring digital more often, which is also a factor, that also means there are more people who buy some of their games both physically and digitally. Me for example after playing Nier: Automata digitally decided to buy a physical copy of it because I loved it so much.

Soon enough, physical copies of games will become obsolete.

Not any time soon. You can look at the music industry for example, where the primary way to listen to music is digitally, and yet they still make tons of money on physical music album sales.

Last edited by Hiku - on 01 May 2018

Hiku said:
flashfire926 said:

Now, we have numbers from the platform holder itself. In FY 2015, 19% of software sold on PS4 was via digital distribution. In just two years, that number has increased to 32% for FY 2017. That's a significant change in such a short time.

Games you get for free with PS+ count as a sale. (You get a confirmation e-mail saying "Thank you for your purchase".)
As the PS4 userbase grows, so do the number of PS+ subscriptions. I'm not saying this accounts for everything, but it should be a factor. A few games a month can add up to quite a lot, considering a few years ago I believe the average system owner bought c.a. 5 games in the console's lifetime. But when game's are free, there's another incentive there.

Aside from more people preferring digital more often, which is also a factor, that also means there are more people who buy some of their games both physically and digitally. Me for example after playing Nier: Automata digitally decided to buy a physical copy of it because I loved it so much.

Soon enough, physical copies of games will become obsolete.

Not any time soon. You can look at the music industry for example, where the primary way to listen to music is digitally, and yet they still make tons of money on physical music album sales.

Good point there. However, as earlier discussed in the thread, Sony doesn't count most digital-only games in that ratio.

For example: Lets make up a random month for PS+. Lets say Bloodborne and Firewatch are on PS+ free games. Bloodborne would get counted, but not Firewatch.

Anyways, good point, PS+ free games that are physically available would count towards the total then, supposedly.

As for the last part, here's the thing: I actually think we are going to lose the disc drive from console in 10-15 years. May just be a hunch, of course. Developing countries have that have less-than-average internet connections, will of course be a factor in pushing that back, perhaps to 15-20 years. But I'm heavily doubt that Fifa 40 will ever come out on a disc. 



Bet with Intrinsic:

The Switch will outsell 3DS (based on VGchartz numbers), according to me, while Intrinsic thinks the opposite will hold true. One month avatar control for the loser's avatar.

flashfire926 said:
Hiku said:

Games you get for free with PS+ count as a sale. (You get a confirmation e-mail saying "Thank you for your purchase".)
As the PS4 userbase grows, so do the number of PS+ subscriptions. I'm not saying this accounts for everything, but it should be a factor. A few games a month can add up to quite a lot, considering a few years ago I believe the average system owner bought c.a. 5 games in the console's lifetime. But when game's are free, there's another incentive there.

Aside from more people preferring digital more often, which is also a factor, that also means there are more people who buy some of their games both physically and digitally. Me for example after playing Nier: Automata digitally decided to buy a physical copy of it because I loved it so much.

Soon enough, physical copies of games will become obsolete.

Not any time soon. You can look at the music industry for example, where the primary way to listen to music is digitally, and yet they still make tons of money on physical music album sales.

Good point there. However, as earlier discussed in the thread, Sony doesn't count most digital-only games in that ratio.

For example: Lets make up a random month for PS+. Lets say Bloodborne and Firewatch are on PS+ free games. Bloodborne would get counted, but not Firewatch.

Anyways, good point, PS+ free games that are physically available would count towards the total then, supposedly.

As for the last part, here's the thing: I actually think we are going to lose the disc drive from console in 10-15 years. May just be a hunch, of course. Developing countries have that have less-than-average internet connections, will of course be a factor in pushing that back, perhaps to 15-20 years. But I'm heavily doubt that Fifa 40 will ever come out on a disc. 

Good to know. Now I'm curious why it's 'most' and not 'all'. Was that explained earlier?

As for 10-15 years, maybe I could imagine it at the higher end of that spectrum. But I feel it would be a bit longer than that because for this to happen and become commonly accepted by the audience, I think there's something missing that we're either not seeing yet, or I haven't thought of.
Because people still want tangible items. Even if it's not convenient for the publishers, they still print physical books, or release CD's, etc.
Aside from what's more convenient for the publisher or the consumer, there's still that factor. I don't think it's impossible, but rather I'm not sure how we would get there.

Last edited by Hiku - on 01 May 2018

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Does that include games that are only available digitally (e.g., indie titles and F2P games) as well as bundled software?

Personally, I think that, given the current state of IP law, digital is a fool's bargain. I've never bought a $60 game digitally, and since 2010 the only new titles I've downloaded were Perfect Dark HD, Mega Man 10, Blaster Master Zero, and (regretfully since a physical release was announced two days after I downloaded it) Sonic Mania. That's it.



I would say in 20 years time your going to have a digital only market of 75% and a physical market of 25% when it comes to "existing customers". There will be plenty of developing nations in 20 years that will be reliant on physical media and the countries who show gaming promise, could very well end up loyal to whichever brand(s) still offer physical copies at that point in time. Depends on the companies and their future business model and whether or not they really want to grow in numbers and not just dollars.

Physical in 20 years time could also look very different than it does now. Just imagine all physical games from all companies are cartridge based, using advanced tech, being produced in present worldwide optical disc quantities. Something like this could push back digital only even further into the future, since the price for physical could be the same or less than it is now, a few years down the road, plus no need for a bulky, expensive, optical drive inside every console.



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CuCabeludo said:

Today when you buy a game physical, put the disc on and discover you need to download 5GB+ day 1 patch is definitively pushing people towards digital.

This is it, really. On PS4, I'm having a hard time justifying buying physical when it really seems to not actually do anything for me. I bought FF15 physically and it still eats 80GB of my harddrive. That's just ridiculous.

For Switch, I haven't encountered that problem at all, and I don't have to download gigantic patches that take half an hour whenever I want to start playing my new game (and I have a really fast connection), so I'm much more inclined to buy physical there.

The reason Digital is taking over from Physical is because console manufacturers at large have gone out of their way to make Physical extremely undesirable with little advantages, despite it clearly being the consumer-preferred choice.



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Shadow1980 said:
Does that include games that are only available digitally (e.g., indie titles and F2P games) as well as bundled software?

Personally, I think that, given the current state of IP law, digital is a fool's bargain. I've never bought a $60 game digitally, and since 2010 the only new titles I've downloaded were Perfect Dark HD, Mega Man 10, Blaster Master Zero, and (regretfully since a physical release was announced two days after I downloaded it) Sonic Mania. That's it.

The OP seems to think it's just games that get a physical and digital release. However, I highly doubt that. He's using the labels on PSN for proof. However, that doesn't explain games that get a digital release in some regions, but both types in another. Or games that release digitally and shortly after get a physical release, as they stay labeled as PSN games. 

If you look at the actual numbers, that doesn't make sense, either. They report having sold through 640M units of SW, without add-on content included. This is all SW. If you add up the combined FYs for "Full" games shown it equals to 623.5M. For FY 13 and 14 they reported 384M and 460M, respectively. Of course, they were also combining the PS3 and PS4 at the time. But, if we say that the PS4 was responsible for 1/4 of the sales for FY13 and 1/3 for FY14 (my guess it's probably more like 1/2), that brings our total to 871.5M, or a gap of 231.5M. Even considering that would include digital sales for retail games in his scenario, that's a lot of unsold SW sitting on shelves. I think it's safe to assume that the numbers include digital only games, too. 



Good point. Tech websites have been saying that for some time but this confirms it completely.

With now even boxed games requiring an install, the importance of physical products has decreased. Still, with the possibility to resell packaged games, at some point the progression of digital will stall. If Sony & MS could do a bonus system or decrease the price of digital games, non-physical games could rise even more quickly.

I think that ultimately, packaged games could only serve for collector's editions with goodies, CDs and stuff. Also, the time will come for digital-only systems. A PS4 portable that can run digital version of AA games would be great. PSPGo was the right idea but it came ahead of its time.