If the previous generation kickstarted the digital era for consoles, devices like the PS4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch might propel downloads much closer to the full parity with physical sales than anyone would have expected. That is according to the information that GfK, the company in charge of tracking software sales in the United Kingdom, has revealed to GamesIndustry.biz, which suggests that the split of digital sales in some recent AAA releases have actually exceeded 45%.
This is a stunning development that not only reflects a profound transformation of the market in a very short time, it also casts some doubts about the sales chart information it is currently shared publicly, as it only reflects physical sales. These past weeks we have talked about the drop in sales of some sequels like FIFA 18 or Shadow of War that could be explained by our previous conception of the digital split. However, this new data suggests that even games that suffered steep drops from their predecessors like Destiny 2 or Forza Motorsport 7 could still have sold more when accounting for digital purchases.
The reason for this faster transition to a digital market by the UK public seems to rely in the lack of discounts of physical games by retailers. While digital games have traditionally been seen as more expensive than physical copies, the difference seems to have been reduced in the recent months, with customers now valuing more the convenience of keeping their collection in their console than the privilege of owning a physical copy.
It seems like retailers face a difficult decision if they want to delay the rate of digital adoption. As one publisher tells GamesIndustry: “The temptation may be to keep prices high, but this might only cause the digital acceleration to speed up further.”