A lot of people have opinions on physical vs. digital games. There will always be reasons some people want to buy physical (ownership of the actual game not attached to an account that could be hacked/locked/or deleted from a company that goes out of business, for example). There have been many reasons presented of why digital is better for some others (less things to carry around, no swapping discs/cartridges or worrying about them getting damaged, ability to access games on multiple devices, etc.). None of these are the main point of this thread. The main thing I want to do is highlight something very beneficial that, at least to me, feels overlooked.
Money. “Whose money,” you ask? Everyone’s money! You get money, and you get money, EVERYONE GETS MONEY! (The child in me that was forced to watch Oprah had to get that out of his system).
- Developer’s Get more money - Below is a chart of how game revenue is split up with physical sales, according to Los Angeles Times:
So, if we count it up, the publisher only gets $27/60, or 45% on physical sales. Digital? Steam and Apple both get 30% of the cut on those. Assuming Nintendo/Sony/Microsoft have similar cuts (please correct me if I’m wrong on that so I can adjust the numbers, thanks), that means with digital sales, publishers (and their developers) get 70% of the revenue, because they don’t have to waste money on retailer margin, returns, or distribution and cost of goods. That’s 25% MORE of the $60 that goes into the pockets of the publishers and their developers. Think of the raises developers, designers, etc. would be able to get with a 25% increase that they wouldn’t get without. Think of the ability to studios to expand with that level of increased revenue and profit from it, hiring more talented people that want a chance. Think of how bigger games would be made more quickly because of this. Think of how more games would be made, especially risky ones, because there is a lower barrier to success required now. These are really exciting positives!
- We get more money - If there is a 25% reduction in lost money, then developers may, in order to increase sales figures, decide to reduce the cost of games by a decent chunk. Not the full amount saved, but still some amount. Maybe instead of $60 games we see $50 games? Or maybe, on a less noticeable level, the increase in digital sales in the market may have been the reason we haven’t started seeing widespread price increases for newer generation games. Maybe this is why GamePass is able to be a thing and save all of us butt tons of money. Studios are making less money on each game sold now compared to 30 years ago, if you adjust for inflation, and so they are making up for that with controversial DLC options. Maybe studios will have more complete games at launch that don’t have seemingly necessary parts of the game locked behind DLC pay walls, making all of our experience of games improved.
These are the main reasons I’m excited for the digital future. On paper, consumers and developers have a lot more opportunity to walk away with more money in our pockets for a larger amount of complete, unique, quality games, that are finished in quicker timeframes, all because people are more and more buying digitally. The digital future is going to help the video game industry expand and thrive. The only people that won’t benefit, as far as I can see, are people working in retail like GameStop. But that’s how capitalism works. If your company becomes obsolete, you either adequately change your business model (hellp Funko pops! At GameStop) or you fall, and your workforce ideally moves into industries that have needs for an increased workforce.