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Forums - Sales Discussion - Prediction: This is the last decade a game will sell over 10 million physical copies

 

Which decade will be the last a game sells over 10 million physically?

2020's 12 31.58%
 
2030's 10 26.32%
 
2040's 3 7.89%
 
2050's 0 0%
 
Never, physical will live on forever 13 34.21%
 
Total:38

I accidentally clicked on 40s, why can't I change my vote?
Either way, yes I agree that since physical is getting increasingly less relevant it won't be long until it completely dies.



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I'm just going to note my abstention. I've been away from the physical games market for about a decade now. Some of my early 3DS games are physical, none of my Wii U, Vita, or Switch games are. And my last physical game on PC was probably Europa Universalis 3 or some Total War collection.

Needless to say, my finger is nowhere near the pulse on this topic.
In my opinion, there's a value for physical games as it's another way to get the image on pieces of plastic distributed throughout physical spaces... on the other hand, digital only has really expanded the catalogue and distribution, and I find it way more convenient. I also always know where all my Wii VC, Switch, 3DS, modern PC, and Vita games are.

The big downside, though, is the threat of the databases being shut down... and this is a part of the industry that International law has to catch up with and I feel at some point it will... for example, in the future, products like Wii VC where a digital title has been purchased will have to maintain that digital copy for download indefinitely, even if the ability to purchase is gone... I don't even care if a small re-download service fee is charged for games that haven't been on the storefront for 5 years or something, just keep the access available. Anyway, I've not run into issues with this yet. I know Nintendo and Sony both claimed that they were going to shut redownloads down, but it hasn't happened yet.



I describe myself as a little dose of toxic masculinity.

Nope

The reason why I think is because streaming will slowly but steadily replace digital purchases instead of physical ones

And physical games will pretty much be a thing for as long Sony and Nintendo don't fully embrace subscription services. While they keep their domination in console market and keep heavily investing on first party property and games purchases physicals won't go anywhere



I voted never.

Nintendo is at odds with other software publishers, because they pursue a philosophy of maintaining high value for their software instead of going for games with built-in expiration dates to make people buy something new when the old is no good anymore. High value goes hand in hand with physical copies.

You also have to consider that a lot of formerly digital-only games received physical versions later on because all-digital is clearly not the future. Another factor is resell value and an ever-growing retro scene; every console will eventually become a retro system, so physical is also an investment in the future.

As this prediction is defined as only one single game needing to accomplish the 10m feat in any given decade, it's hard to imagine that we'll ever get to the point where no game manages to sell 10m+ physical copies.



Legend11 correctly predicted that GTA IV (360+PS3) would outsell SSBB. I was wrong.

A Biased Review Reloaded / Open Your Eyes / Switch Shipments

Not sure how people can be so short-sighted to think never. Seems more to me they just want to cling onto physical rather than thinking logically. The digital trend is clear, thinking physical will still be a thing in 2060 is hilarious.



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Fiscal Year PlayStation Nintendo
2016 19%
2017 27% 15.30%
2018 32% 17.30%
2019 43% 24.80%
2020 53% 34%
2021 65% 42.80%

As we can see, the trend is clear. Physical software is dying, just like the movie/tv and music industries digital will become dominant and physical releases will become extremely niche. The digital ratio will rise high enough that even the biggest releases will not be able to hit the 10m physical sales mark. Even the biggest releases like Mario Kart that sell 40m will be under 10m physical once they reach 80% digital and beyond.

The ratio will continue to rise for all platform holders until the point is reached that the ratio is so high a game would have to sell an astronomical amount to possibly reach 10m physical sales.

Physical is dying, the trend is clear, anyone who thinks physical will continue to be relevant to the point of managing 10m+ sellers is deluding themselves because they want physical to remain relevant. Seeing PlayStation digital go from 19% to 65% in 5 years how could anyone possibly think physical will remain strong enough by 2060 to vote "never". Video Games will follow the other industries in leaving physical behind. The all digital future already happened on PC years ago.

Nintendo confirms 50% digital sales for Animal Crossing: New Horizons | GamesIndustry.biz

For those curious this is how the music industry has switched away from physical over time: source

Year Digital
2004 2.30%
2005 9.50%
2006 18.10%
2007 25.40%
2008 34.80%
2009 42.60%
2010 49.10%
2011 52.30%
2012 60.60%
2013 65%
2014 68.80%
2015 73.70%
2016 81.60%
2017 83.20%

Last edited by Zippy6 - on 19 November 2021

Dulfite said:

The more digital things we have replacing physical things the better. Less trash all over the place years later when no one wants the discs/boxes anymore except for the super hardcore, niche, minority of people that like to collect.

I view physical gaming like I did Will Smith's character in iRobot. One day your going to be driving around on your gas motorcycle with everyone else in the world looking at you like your crazy lol.

I do prefer digital but DRM makes me wary of when it'll fully take over since there are cases like P.T. An anti-DRM movement will probably be needed in the coming decades to keep digital content in a good place.

IcaroRibeiro said:

Nope

The reason why I think is because streaming will slowly but steadily replace digital purchases instead of physical ones

And physical games will pretty much be a thing for as long Sony and Nintendo don't fully embrace subscription services. While they keep their domination in console market and keep heavily investing on first party property and games purchases physicals won't go anywhere

Streaming will probably start becoming properly relevant this decade but I don't see that only harming digital purchases. Both Sony and Nintendo would prefer as high a digital ratio as possible so they make more money so once it becomes feasible will start to move away from physical.

RolStoppable said:

I voted never.

Nintendo is at odds with other software publishers, because they pursue a philosophy of maintaining high value for their software instead of going for games with built-in expiration dates to make people buy something new when the old is no good anymore. High value goes hand in hand with physical copies.

You also have to consider that a lot of formerly digital-only games received physical versions later on because all-digital is clearly not the future. Another factor is resell value and an ever-growing retro scene; every console will eventually become a retro system, so physical is also an investment in the future.

As this prediction is defined as only one single game needing to accomplish the 10m feat in any given decade, it's hard to imagine that we'll ever get to the point where no game manages to sell 10m+ physical copies.

Nintendo will for sure hold on to physical the longest of the three but the increased profit from digital sales makes me expect that they'll move away from physical when that becomes feasible and eventually just keep it around for stuff like a collector's edition. I don't see the digital growth rate for Nintendo over the past few years plateauing for a while.

Zippy6 said:

As we can see, the trend is clear. Physical software is dying, just like the movie/tv and music industries digital will become dominant and physical releases will become extremely niche. The digital ratio will rise high enough that even the biggest releases will not be able to hit the 10m physical sales mark. Even the biggest releases like Mario Kart that sell 40m will be under 10m physical once they reach 80% digital and beyond.

This is good data and a great post, thanks for the high quality contribution to the thread!



I somehow didn't notice I put two 2030's until now so the poll is finally fixed lol.



Well
As long as skyrim continues to exsist



Zippy6 said:

Fiscal YearPlayStationNintendo
201619%
201727%15.30%
201832%17.30%
201943%24.80%
202053%34%
202165%42.80%

As we can see, the trend is clear. Physical software is dying, just like the movie/tv and music industries digital will become dominant and physical releases will become extremely niche. The digital ratio will rise high enough that even the biggest releases will not be able to hit the 10m physical sales mark. Even the biggest releases like Mario Kart that sell 40m will be under 10m physical once they reach 80% digital and beyond.

The ratio will continue to rise for all platform holders until the point is reached that the ratio is so high a game would have to sell an astronomical amount to possibly reach 10m physical sales.

Physical is dying, the trend is clear, anyone who thinks physical will continue to be relevant to the point of managing 10m+ sellers is deluding themselves because they want physical to remain relevant. Seeing PlayStation digital go from 19% to 65% in 5 years how could anyone possibly think physical will remain strong enough by 2060 to vote "never". Video Games will follow the other industries in leaving physical behind. The all digital future already happened on PC years ago.

Nintendo confirms 50% digital sales for Animal Crossing: New Horizons | GamesIndustry.biz


<snip>

I don't know if you were just lazy or if it's a deliberate attempt to support a conclusion that isn't backed up by the actual numbers. What I want to get out of the way first is that I don't care about Sony's numbers because I can see them following the way of PC gaming, because that's what PS is clearly about since the PS4. I only need to focus on Nintendo for two reasons: For one, the argument I made against the prediction in this thread is about Nintendo, and two, the prediction only needs a single game per decade to hit the milestone, so it's perfectly okay to be narrowly focused.

First off, the percentages you posted for Nintendo are not the digital ratios for games that are available in physical format and that's already a big difference to what the numbers actually mean. What Nintendo talks about is proportion of digital sales to total video game platform software sales, so digital sales include not only the digital versions of packaged software, but also download-only software, add-on content and even Nintendo Switch Online subscriptions. You can view this on page 13 of this document:

https://www.nintendo.co.jp/ir/pdf/2021/210506_3e.pdf

The bars consist of yellow and blue parts of which only the blue parts would be relevant for the digital ratio of software that is available in both physical and digital format. However, Nintendo's graphs are not about unit sales, but revenue and this makes the whole thing a lot less useful. That's because Nintendo earns higher revenue for a digital copy of, say, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe because Nintendo themselves sells it for $60 whereas Nintendo doesn't sell this same game to retailers for $60 because retailers pay less in order to get their own cut from the sale. But essentially it can be said that the blue bars make the digital ratio seem bigger than it really is.

Putting all this information together means that digital versions of packaged games are nowhere near the 42% you posted.

If we look beyond your table into the current fiscal year, we have these numbers from Nintendo on page 12:

https://www.nintendo.co.jp/ir/pdf/2021/211104_4e.pdf

The flawed metric used by you shows a year over year decline of 2.1 percent points during the first half of the compared fiscal years, so your suggested trend has come to a halt for Nintendo.

But it doesn't end here, because I'd like to do comparisons between calendar year 2020 and 2021 while I've opened these documents.

January - March 2020: 60.9b yen from digital versions of packaged games, 45.59m units of software shipped
January - March 2021: 53.6b yen, 54.78m units

2021 had more software units shipped, but digital versions of packaged games fared worse.

April - June 2020: 68.3b yen, 50.53m units
April - June 2021: 39.5b yen, 45.29m units

A decline for both categories, but digital versions of packaged games were hit far worse.

July - September 2020: 40.7b yen, 49.82m units
July - September 2021: 33.5b yen, 48.59m units

Unit sales almost flat, but digital version doing notably worse than the year before.

Now I am not going to be intellectually dishonest, so I'll mention the caveat that applies here: Nintendo gets more revenue from first party game sales than they do from third party game sales, so that changes things a bit. First party game sales of known million-selling software:

Calendar Q1 2020 vs. calendar Q1 2021: 24.01m vs. 19.45m
CQ2 2020 vs. CQ2 2021: 22.45m vs. 14.27m
CQ3 2020 vs. CQ3 2021: 25.09m vs. 14.45m

The caveat with these numbers is that they are a lot more complete during FQ4 (=CQ1) than they are during FQ1 and FQ2 (=CQ2 and CQ3). Regardless, using some necessary estimates here we get roughly in the ballpark that digital ratios of packaged software are either not growing, or if they are, they aren't growing by much anymore. The biggest benefits for growing digital ratios in the recent past have been COVID-19 measures and too low physical stock (such as for Monster Hunter Rise in Japan), but it will take a long time until we see sustained 50%+ digital ratios on a Nintendo console and if we ever see them, it still won't mean the end of physical games. Considering how much at odds Nintendo is with the supposed trends and industry standards, and how successful they are the more they are out of line, how could you think that Nintendo will ever follow the rest of the gaming industry, let alone other industries.

Lastly, I checked to make sure what Sony's numbers mean. Sony's percentages are measured by unit sales, but they do include digital-only games in their "full game" category, so the percentages are skewed and do not represent the actual digital ratio of games that are available in both physical and digital format, and those are the games we are talking about in this thread. Nevertheless, Sony is heading towards an all-digital future because they follow PC gaming. It's just that they aren't as close yet as the numbers you posted suggest.



Legend11 correctly predicted that GTA IV (360+PS3) would outsell SSBB. I was wrong.

A Biased Review Reloaded / Open Your Eyes / Switch Shipments