People love to buy games for cheap, but people in the UK have opted to go for more convenient channels, it seems.
According to the Entertainment Retailers Association, 80% of the UK’s video games sales are now digital. Their data says that, of the £3.86bn generated by the UK video game industry in 2018, only £770m of it was from physical sales, while the rest, £3.09bn, was from digital sales.
That number is the digital revenue figure, counting microtransactions, DLC, subscription services, as well as pay-to-play and individual game sales, which is a notable 12.5% increase from the prior year’s number, while the physical revenue figure went down by 2.8%. Overall, total game sales revenue in the UK went up by 9.1% from 2017.
The move from digital from physical for the video game market is seen as an inevitability, but the split when it comes to physical and digital sales depends on the video game; people buy games for cheap offline or online differently. The biggest-selling console game of 2018 in the UK, FIFA 19, managed to sell 2.5m units, with 75% coming from physical formats, according to the ERA.
So, for big mainstream AAA titles like FIFA, physical is still the main force behind revenue, but for those looking for indie titles, or for those looking to buy games for cheap, sales are moving to digital.
Even for FIFA, digital sales is increasing. For 2018, 25% of FIFA 19 sales were digital. This is an increase from 2017, when 20% of FIFA 18’s sales were digital. That being said, it’s important to also note that FIFA 19 sold about 200,000 units less than FIFA 18.
Overall, the ERA’s data does not bode well for the UK’s physical video game sales market. Several majro retailers have already taken steps, like GAME, which has been refocusing on esports and user experiences. It’s also worth noting that the ERA only tracks video game sales, not hardware; its numbers don’t include revenue from the sales of the PlayStation 4, Xbox One or the Nintendo Switch.
The best-selling entertainment product in the UK, however, was not a video game, but The Greatest Showman, which shipped 2.6m copies.