Most Gamers Still Prefer Retail Over Digital

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Most Gamers Still Prefer Retail Over Digital


Digital distribution is hot stuff these days but according to numbers compiled by the NPD Group, most of us still prefer to take our games home in a box.

Speaking at the 2009 DICE Summit this past weekend, NPD analyst Anita Frazier said 75 percent of gamers expressed a preference for boxed retail copies of videogames over downloaded versions in a recent survey, while 58 percent have never actually downloaded a game at all. Of those who have, however, 77 percent described the games purchased via digital distribution as "just as good" as the retail versions.

At least part of the reluctance to embrace digital appears to be rooted in price: 65 percent of respondents claimed they'd be more likely to purchase a digital copy of a game if it was priced ten percent lower than its boxed equivalent.

The evolution of digital distribution is bad news for retailers, of course, although GameStop predicts it will take another 10 to 15 years before it becomes a "full-blown" sales channel. But supporters of digital say it will happen much faster and even GameStop began to take steps to stay in front of the trend all the way back in 2006 when it launched the Download Now service on its website.

Regardless of when it begins to actually supplant retail, the number of gamers who claim to prefer retail copies will doubtlessly shrink as digital distribution, and gaming as a whole, becomes increasingly ubiquitous. I love game boxes; I love opening them, gently removing their contents, reading the manual while parked on the can and lovingly sliding it into place on my shelf when the game is finally done. But reduced distribution costs and easier access to markets will only make digital distribution an increasingly popular option with developers, and for better or worse thrill of browsing the shelves at EB isn't going to satisfy the growing legions who just want to play the damned game.

Source: Edge


I don't know about that. Sure Digital distribution will gain more popularity, but I don't think traditional retail will ever go by the wayside. The reason is much the same reason why traditional retail for books and comics will never go either. People like the experience of shopping, of browsing, of talking to people, and, while less so than books, the smell.

Interesting thing about the price.

Shortly after changing the prices from US$ to Sterling Steam has undergone a massive price hike. It's a shame really, they've just written themselves out any future purchases as there's no more price difference between them and a store bought game.

I think buying digital kind of leaves a "I illegally stole this" feeling to me. Having the cases and instructions are also a big deal to me because I want to set up a book-case/shelf with all my PS/PS2/Xbox/Ps3/360 games and cases. I think, though, if they did reduce price 10% I'd buy all my stuff digital except for reallllly high profile games.

I love cases with pretty art work and manuals sooo. If I was going to download it I would just freaking pirate it. I pay money for games for a reason. Plus well, net in my country sucks soo much ass that digitial dls are really a waste of time here. Standard dsl comes with a freaking 3GB cap for $40 a month. Not worth it.
Plus steam requires you to be online to play games right? What if I lose my net or even have to format. Retail is just always better.

As long as a new game on Steam is 10-50% more than retail (in Denmark) or one I order online abroad I'm going with retail or online shopping. And I would really rather use steam.

Duh, I could've told them that. But I'm outdated anyway, I prefer vinyl to CDs and a '71 AMX to an '08 R8.

Digital would also be better if Gamers were strict to the stereotype of never leaving home, but we dont. I am not going to drag my memory unit from place to place to play a game, I am going to just take the game. I also go to my dad's over the weekends and I bring over some of my games. I also like looking at the box, and reading the manual at times. Such as this past weekend inbetween turns while playing SF4 with my brother and dad. Ofcourse, learning the Ultra and Super combos lessened that time. :3

Interesting thing about the price.

Shortly after changing the prices from US$ to Sterling Steam has undergone a massive price hike. It's a shame really, they've just written themselves out any future purchases as there's no more price difference between them and a store bought game.

Liar. There is a difference.

Steam is almost 100% more expensive than retail shops here, in Poland.

This means that I cna almost buy 2 Left for Dead games for the price of one on the Steam. And two TF2/CSS/Portal/HF games.

I'm a fan of both. If a game is really important to me i'll go and get it retail because it's a ritual from when I first started playing games. However i've gotten CoD4, L4D and CoD:WaW over steam because I know i'm only going to be playing them on the internet anyway so there's little point in worrying about my internet being gone and they were cheaper than getting them retail.

I dunno, I really like having the physical product. It just feels... safer, I guess. You can't accidentally delete a disc, and no matter how many times your computer crashes, you'll always be able to grab the disc and reinstall.

Well, until DRM becomes the standard, that is.

-and it's gonna stay that way until people get better internet.

Where I live Steam is usually more expensive then retail (though not by too much), I use it simply because for me it offers a better service as most of the games I've bought at retail within the past 5 years have ended up lost or broken and all my games on Steam have so far remained intact since September of 2003 so personally I trust the platform (although many others have many reasons not too). And although it's not a perfect system it suits me perfectly as I no longer have to bother with finding patches/updates or use the always awful automatic patching systems some games include, and even when offline all my games are readily available.

Plus I live in an area where internet access isn't that bad, unlimited services are pretty easy to find (although the unlimited bit isn't strictly true as they limit your access if you pass some undisclosed limit) and the speed also isn't that bad (although again only around 1/20 of the advertised speeds - though that is the norm).

"while 58 percent have never actually downloaded a game at all." That is a lie!
The correct statement would go like this: "while 58 percent have never actually legally downloaded a game at all."

But yeah. AS the above says, I realy don't mind either. Though I am a big fan of having shelves with loads of game covers =D
Also it does go a bit faster to buy them online. But the problem is that, see. When it's that easy, it is also very easy to get too excited. You know, buying too much stuff that perhaps you can't really afford if you don't want to eat mac'n chees the rest of the week =P

Pre DRM and Steam (buy 1/2 the game, download the other half), I stuck with retail because, you know, it actually felt like I owned the product, instead of electronically "borrowing" it.

Meh, will change.

I always prefer buying games in a box.
That way I have a backup if my drive fails or anything else similar happens

I like to have a physical copy of the game for easy installation and not have to download it in-case things go terribly wrong (which happens pretty often with me), but I like to be able to download the game if I don't have the disk.

Therefore: My favorite are games like the Orange Box, Left 4 Dead, Fear 2 and Dawn of War II that let me install via DVD with Steam, or download with Steam if I don't have the disks off-hand.

I think it'll ultimately come out the most favored way of buying games in the long-run

Friggin' love Steam, don't like games stores. Hell, I'm not a massive fan of having to go out for stuff in general, so digital distribution just makes sense from where I'm sat.

I don't attach any great importance to the disk/box other than having a backup copy, beyond that having to take care of physical media is just a liability (rather easy to lose or damage a disc) that a service like Steam obviates the need for. Plus having it on my hard drive instead of on disc means I don't have to fumble about with CDs to play my games... just click and go (when my CD drive last toasted itself I didn't have to give a shit until the time came to reinstall Windows)

Only real downside to Steam is the inability to return/re-sell/lend games, but the retail bastards don't tend to do refunds and reselling/lending is hampered by DRM if you go the legal route. I'd rather have the extra convenience while I own the game and to hell with the resell value.

Just to echo some of the sentiment already expressed here: I will almost always prefer a physical copy of a game over a download.

Digital purchases can not be lent or borrowed, nor can they be resold once you're done with them. I'm sure that these are some of the reasons that the industry is pushing so hard for everyone to adopt this distribution method. If you can't lend or borrow a game, that's another sale for digital downloads, and we all know how much the industry hates the used games market...

The market for physical games on hard media will never go away.

Well if the store bought game is the same price, then I will go to the store, because I will get the box, and having a giant game collection on a screen is nice, but not nearly as impressive as filling out a wall or a room.

With games bought on a disk you don't have to wait for ages while it downloads, during which time you have significantly less bandwidth avaliable.

Other than that, I have no real reason to buy retail anymore.

I prefer the digital since my home connection is broadband and if I can get away with not leaving the house. Unfortunately not enough variety in the digital copy download to make it even worth the trouble of downloading.

I buy certain games on steam, valve games and small games, you wouldn't buy peggle in the stores would you? If you did you would have to put the cd in every time you play it. I would never buy crysis on steam regardless of the price, they just seem better on cd to me. I like steam because it doesn't require any manufacturing of materials for the case and stuff it can be allot cheaper, but it isn't has cheap on steam any more because of the damn recession, I would never buy a game on steam if it is the same price has in store, then your paying for the box you don't get.

-and it's gonna stay that way until people get better internet.

Or rather, restrictions on bandwidth are either stepped up to higher levels.

The main obstacle I see to digital delivery taking off is the fact that internet providers have instituted data transfer limits and chokepoints in terms of connection speed. With these in place, I'm wary to really take advantage of any kind of service on a regular basis simply because of bandwidth limitations.

There's also the issue of ownership. If I have a physical copy, I know I have a copy, but if I have a digital copy and I lose it somehow, getting it back inevitably means re-downloading or tons of bureaucratic hoops.

I think digital download has a while.

I don't mind downloading games online. I buy all of my PC games online and I'm hoping that one day I can buy my 360 games online. But...I'm looking for a price decrease. Since I'm not getting a case, not getting a manuel, not helping pay the clerks salary at Gamestop, not paying for the gas it took to deliver the games, not taken part of the delivery process at all, and not helping to pay the rent of the store, and all that other stuff...I shouldn't have to pay the full $60.

I'd need to be able to download it again incase something happens to my hard drive.

And, this maybe pushing it, but since we pay for Xbox live maybe an extra discount of first-party games for the xbox =D

After Steam changed from dollars to euros, while keeping the same price "number" (i.e if a game went for 20dollars it would cost 20 euros, which is much more expensive), I stopped buying from it. Also, they added taxes 25% taxes even though Norway does not enforce taxes on products bought and downloaded over the web. So games are like twice as expensive now, more expensive than games in stores...

I love steam. But there's always the risk that your games are only accessible through a service you can't control. Steam won't last forever, and that's what bothers me.

Logically, of course, by the time Steam goes down my games won't even work on modern computers and even if they do I could pick them up for pennies. It doesn't bother me hugely but given the choice I'll get me a hard copy.

I've learned to tolerate Steam (although I still think, and will always think, that the requirement of a broadband net connection to play a strictly single-player game is inexcusable) but I'm one of the 58 percent who's never purchased a digital copy of a game. Hopefully it will stay that way for a long time. As an example, I've been looking for a boxed copy of World of Goo for weeks now; I could easily grab the digital release and be playing the full game tonight, but the box, the disc and everything else are worth the extra effort of tracking it down.

Not to mention, as others already have, that the digital version is actually more expensive for me: The boxed release is 20 bucks CDN while the digital version is (I think) the same price in US funds - which translates to almost 30 hoserbucks. Not that I'm looking to rip anybody off - 30 dollars for World of Goo is still pretty reasonable - but getting a sexy box to sit on my shelf and paying less for it? I can't say no to that.

I still prefer to buy my games in the box mainly because downloading anything over 1GB is completely unreasonable for me.

OOOH Time to play with the numbers...

Of 100 people:
25 of 100 prefer Digital Download
75 of 100 prefer Retail
25 + 75 = 100, things still on track...

58 of 100 have never tried Digital Download
thus*, of the 75 who supposedly prefer retail
17 of 100 actually prefer Retail
58 of 100 shop Retail and have never tried Digital
25 of 100 still prefer Digital Download
*Assumption made that the 58% who never tried download don't come from the pro-download group
17 + 58 + 25 = 100, things still sensible.

32 of 42 people who have tried download, think the downloaded games are "just as good".
*Assumptions again that those who prefer digital download will all think such games are "just as good", and those who have never tried download wouldn't have an opinion, so the 10 who don't think so, must come from the 17 who prefer retail.
7 of 100 prefer Retail, and don't think Digital Download games are as good
10 of 100 prefer Retail, but think Digital is as good
58 of 100 shop Retail and have never tried Digital
25 of 100 still prefer Digital Download, and think it is as good as Retail.
7 + 10 + 58 + 25 = 100, the numbers add up.

NPD analyst Anita Frazier needs a swift kick in her ass, because she just got beat by someone with no analyst training.
By her own statements...
Only 17% of gamers actually prefer Retail over Digital Download. Only 7% of gamers actually express anything that can be taken as true dislike of download.
58% have never tried digital, and thus can't actually be lumped as pro-anything.

From 75% to 7% WHEEEEEE!

Despite all above, count me as part of the seven percent. I fucking HATE download, and will never switch from Retail.

Congratulations. Your masterful manipulation of numbers has proven to all beyond any shadow of a doubt that you desperately need to find a girlfriend.

The big issue with me is I still like a hard copy and yes I know you can mirror a dvd but you know what, I just like the pretty boxes and disc art. :P

Maybe I'm just a bit old-fashioned, but if gaming ever goes strictly digital distribution, it'll be the day I hang up my controller, so to speak.

1) Lose that digital copy and you may not get it back.
2) Hard copy, officially made by the company = you can play on more than one system. With DRM, digital copies may not get that luxury.
3) Like others said, boxes and discs are pretty. In a manly way.

Congratulations. Your masterful manipulation of numbers has proven to all beyond any shadow of a doubt that you desperately need to find a girlfriend.

Didn't the TISM bunny avatar give that away? If anything, my anal breakdown of the figures prove I have too much spare time at work. And that gerbils will one day get their revenge on Richard Gere.

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