Tales of the Rampant Coyote

Adventures in Indie Gaming!

Physical Media Loses More Traction…

Posted by Rampant Coyote on June 18, 2013

Gamasutra announced yesterday that it will no longer publishing the monthly NPD numbers for retail game sales. The reason? The numbers are becoming increasingly meaningless. They stress that they still respect the NPD and the job they do – but the numbers can now be more confusing than they are helpful. This is mainly because they do not take international sales or digital sales into consideration.

Back in the bad ol’ days when I was working on Playstation 1 and Dreamcast games, NPD numbers were the highly sought-after gospel. At least in the U.S., International sales were important but secondary (and could usually be estimated by being around equal to the total U.S. sales numbers), and physical sales were king. Sure, you had used game sales and a handful of games selling digital versions (hey, this was the post-Doom era), but pretty much “in the noise” as far as game data was concerned.

And now, it’s pretty clear that at least in terms of units sold (and perhaps in terms of dollars as well), online distribution has surpassed physical distribution overall. It’s been that way for a few years on PC, and of course it has always been that way for mobile devices. And international distribution is kinda the default.

What’s even more awesome? This feels like old news. We crossed from “maybe it will happen to someday” to “what cave have you been living in?” at some point, and I’m not really sure when that was. It’s definitely a sign of indie victory. Back in those bad ol’ days, again, there was only one way to do things – really – in spite of little upstarts like id Software and Epic (Mega)Games making little end runs around the establishment. But being indie was all about being a little upstart like that.

Now…  we’re not such upstarts anymore.

So now that the giant has been defeated and banished from the realm – the giant that once dictated what games would come out when – what does that mean?

Craploads of games, really. We’re already there but… craploads more. Most of which are, well, crap. But… somewhere in there, a the floodgates keep opening wider, there are some new, innovative, awesome, butt-kicking games that keep serving to remind us why we play.


Filed Under: Biz, Indie Evangelism - Comments: Read the First Comment

  • Xian said,

    I rarely ever buy any PC games on physical media these days. I did recently get Bioshock Infinite, but the only reason I bought the DVD was that it was a HUGE download, 20 GB if I remember what was listed on the Steam page. I think it was less than that actually – wish they would list the download size and require hard drive space, but they just list the latter.