Video Game Sales Have Shrunk (And Digital Is To Blame)

Anticipation for the next generation of home consoles is already showing its effects as physical sales in the UK dropped 19.8%, according to year end reports. The drop in physical sales accounted for the first time in seven years that the market has seen such a tremendous drop, though digital sales performed well according to those same reports.

Kim Bailey, CEO of the Entertainers Retailers Association, said “The key message from the games business in 2019 is we need those two new consoles from PlayStation and Xbox — and soon.” To support Bailey’s claim, only six games from 2019 compiled the top ten games sold in the UK. FIFA 20, the best selling game of the year, only sold 1.5 million units against FIFA 19’s 1.9 million.

With the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X set for release later this year and the success of  Google Stadia still up for interpretation, there wasn’t much incentive for gamers last year to overly invest in their current consoles. This isn’t a phenomenon just in the UK as US retailers such as Gamestop are hoping the new generation of consoles can cure its woes as the company barely clings to life.

It also isn’t surprising that digital sales overtake physical sales in the down year. The industry as a whole has been transitioning to digital distribution, which again goes back to brick and mortar stores’ predicaments as the convenience of digital downloads far exceeds physical copies. With trade-in values a common meme among gamers, there is little benefit to physical copies unless one isn’t savvy enough to free up storage or upgrade their consoles hard drive.

2020 should be boosted with several top titles as the current generation prepares to give way to the new. Final Fantasy VII and Marvel’s Avengers look to be huge titles being released in the next few months whereas The Last of Us 2 and Ghosts of Tsushima are AAA titles few will pass up. Until then, fans are waiting for the next big thing, and they won’t have to wait much longer as we get closer to the unveiling of new consoles later this year.

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