Digital game sales defy recession

The economic climate may be anything but optimistic, yet digital game sales managed to clock in at a cool 17% higher in Q2 2012 compared to the same quarter in 2011.

According to the NPD Group, the amount spent in the US on video game content – in all forms – totaled an impressive $2.88 billion from from April to June.

As MCVUK’s Erik Johnson points out, the above-mentioned figure can be broken down into $1 billion spent on new physical video and PC game software, with $1.47 billion generated by game content sold in digital formats, including full-on games and DLC content downloads, subscriptions, social network and mobile titles. 

The remaining $386 million was raked in via rentals and yes, used game sales.  

“In the second quarter of this year, sales of content in a digital format have grown 17 percent over Q2 2011,” explained NPD Group analyst Anita Frazier.

“While this growth is in stark contrast to the declines in new physical software and hardware sales, the size of digital sales is not quite large enough to offset these declines, leading to an overall drop in consumer spending in Q2 by 16 percent.”

Frazier also noted a few significant differences between spending in Europe versus US.

“While many European acquisition trends in the second quarter of 2012 mirrored those we saw in the U.S. due to seasonality, Europe differed from the U.S. in terms of softer mobile spending, but greater stability in rental trends. 

“Growth in full-game and add-on content downloads in the second quarter is surprisingly similar as the content behind this increase is suitable to both markets,” she added.

The overwhelming success of digital game sales was recently illustrated by Valve’s announcement that it would begin selling mainstream apps, rather than just entertainment titles on its popular Steam platform this September.

A number titles are expected to take advantage of several popular Steam features at launch, such as easy installation, automatic updating, and saving files to the cloud so they are accessible across multiple devices.

It should be noted that 40 million gamers have (thus far) used the Steam to download Valve and third-party games, with a total of 780PB downloaded in 2011.