News Article

NPD Data Shows More U.S. Gamers Switching to Downloads

Posted by Thomas Whitehead

The tide is turning...

As the eShop platforms become increasingly important to Nintendo, while rivals also promote their online stores, we're seeing more and more gamers 'going digital'. Even with Nintendo's account system being linked to hardware, increasing numbers are happy to enjoy the convenience of downloading retail games, taking away any need to store or swap out discs and carts; within the Nintendo Life team there's at least one member that's gone practically 100% with retail downloads.

It's a tricky topic though, especially with plenty of gamers still preferring physical copies and having a box and media to call their own; there are wider issues too, such as the debatable instability of anything owned as a download — cases of Nintendo removing ill-gotten 3DS retail software remotely, regardless of whether it was entitled to do so, highlight how fragile this download ownership, which is arguably more akin to leasing, can be. Nintendo can't, without hiring some collectors, take your physical copies away from you.

Regardless of pros and cons, data from the NPD Exploring Digital Gaming report suggests that gamers in the U.S., across multiple platforms, are increasingly moving to retail downloads. Of more than 6,000 people surveyed, aged 13 and older, 36% say they now play downloaded games on PCs, consoles or dedicated gaming handhelds such as the 3DS. A more telling figure is that 16% say they only play downloaded games, no physical retail. Another surprising figure is that of those presented with a choice between the download or physical copy of the same game at matching prices, 25% would choose the download; 30% would opt for the physical copy, while the remaining 45% were unsure. One qualifying statistic is that of those polled, only 28% of "digital gamers" download games on consoles, as the PC is the dominant market for this area: two-thirds of console owners state they download multiple games a year, but only 14% do so on a monthly basis.

NPD analyst Liam Callahan also suggests that many download purchases can be relatively spontaneous, rather than planned ahead of time. What do you think of these statistics? Is that 16% figure of those completely ditching physical retail about right, do you think the pendulum will swing to a point where the majority of games will go download-only? Let us know in the comments below.

[via gamesindustry.biz]

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User Comments (136)

DanMan82

#1

DanMan82 said:

These are pretty cool stats. My only beef now (and correct me if I'm wrong) is why are digital sales of games still not accounted for on video game sales records? Based off this article, they would probably count for a pretty good percentage of sales and would be worth noting. What if the same thing was done with music, where companies like Billboard only counted the number of physical CD's or Vinyl (yes, they still make vinyl) copies of albums, EP's, and singles sold? Then there numbers would be drastically different!!

10000mario

#2

10000mario said:

I switched to downloads in the past year. And with a 500gb HDD, Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze will be easy to download tonight... Or technically, tomorrow 12:00 A.M.

DanMan82

#5

DanMan82 said:

@cookiex True, but isn't it the record labels that are doing the same thing with digital song purchases? I honestly don't know how that stuff works to tell you the truth, but it is still thought provoking...

cookiex

#6

cookiex said:

"NPD analyst Liam Callahan also suggests that many download purchases can be relatively spontaneous, rather than planned ahead of time."

Digital storefronts requiring much less time and effort to locate and access than physical ones probably plays a part in that.

Guybrush20X6

#7

Guybrush20X6 said:

I;m sticking to disk for the most part. Partially because the one time I did the game took up a large chunk of the WiiU's data. I tried buying an external hard drive but for whatever reason it only works with a powered one. Nintendo needs to fix that If I'm ever to download retail games.

Zobocop

#12

Zobocop said:

For me, downloading is fine when it's cheap, and low risk. As of now, downloading means we don't get to own the (console) games we purchase. So why pay full price? $15 - $20 per download is the max for me.

R-L-A-George

#15

R-L-A-George said:

He is correct to an extent, but it's more where people want to save a few bucks(if it's tax free in their region) and also may not have the time. However I myself prefer physical retail copies when it comes to some games because of the bonuses, pride and possible future value if I can pull myself to sell anything, I collect it if I love it (I wish I got a retail copy of FE:A).

King47

#16

King47 said:

I only get digital of its only available in digital or if it's bundled. I love the convenience of digital, but I don't trust Nintendo.
It's also nice having the games on the shelf.

unrandomsam

#17

unrandomsam said:

@cookiex Amazon is just as accessible really. (Probably more so for me because I store my card details with them but not Nintendo) and get the stuff the next day via Prime.

shinokami

#18

shinokami said:

I like digital with certain games, but the way Nintendo has it set up I wouldn't trust to buy everything digital

Gamer83

#20

Gamer83 said:

It's inevitable that everything will go digital at some point. On the one hand it disappoints me because I like to buy physical copies of home console games. However, and I'm not really sure why this is, it's the complete opposite for me in regards to the 3DS and Vita which probably more than half my collection for both systems are made up of digital versions. With Vita it's partly because of PS Plus which has some great sales and I think with the 3DS e-shop it's just because it's so easy to access and surf through it and it leads to some late-night impulse buys.

Link-Hero

#22

Link-Hero said:

I've pretty much gone digital only for a number of years now. I just find it better and more convenient than with physical versions.

WaLzgiStaff

#23

WaLzgi said:

@DanMan82 Because NPD gathers data from the retailers. The download data would have to be gathered from Nintendo and the publishers directly

noctowl

#24

noctowl said:

Music sales aren't even 100% digital yet. It'll be a long long time before video games are. Especially if the file sizes keeps getting bigger.

taffy

#25

taffy said:

I would go all digital if the Wii U had bigger storage... I know, I know I can by an external hard drive but the other thing the gets my goat is that it's not 100% reliable. You can't get Darksiders 2 anymore on the eshop and I got Batman: Arkham City at a steal compared to the price to the price it still has on the eshop

sinalefa

#26

sinalefa said:

The biggest game I have downloaded is SM3DW, because the download itself was not that big and I could not wait to get it. Beyond that, I only download games that lack physical copies.

I would rather have a physical copy to take to my friend's house so he can see a game and maybe buy it, with the obvious benefits of being able to sell, lend or trade games too.

srhades

#27

srhades said:

If my internet wasn't 0.7mbps I would have most games downloaded. Plus, I'd want accounts that can work on multiple systems so I can be sure that I still have the game in case that my Wii U is damaged.

BinaryFragger

#28

BinaryFragger said:

@Gamer83

I feel the same way. I prefer physical copies for various reasons but digital distribution is slowly growing on me. I have numerous digital games on my PSP, Vita and 3DS which is nice when I'm on the go. Also, the problems with pricing are finally being addressed. I never saw the point of downloading a game when it's the same price of the retail version,but there are some really good deals on Xbox Live this week with games being up to 90% off. Then there are the terrific PSN sales you mentioned.

It's just not the same, though. Having a memory card or harddrive full of games is not as fun as having a shelf full of games.

XFsWorld

#29

XFsWorld said:

I download all my games for 3DS, but for WiiU I usually by the physical version of the game, unless I see a retail games on eShop for $15-$20 on sale.

SakuraHaruka

#30

SakuraHaruka said:

I also prefer the physical copy, in first place, because, I can keep the copy all time (if is posible) and if the console fail (hardware problems), I can buy another console and don't have problems for the games; but, Some titles is very difficult (almost impossible) get them, and in this case, the digital copy is the only and best option, however, still there are some things that I don't like in this way (and in my country, digital copies are more expensive that physical ones ¬¬), but well...

chiefeagle02

#32

chiefeagle02 said:

All of the games I've purchased as of late have been downloads, but they've all been from holiday sales, flash sales, and the Humble Bundle. Of all those games, only one or two were titles I had conscientiously planned to eventually get, even at full price.

SheldonRandoms

#33

SheldonRandoms said:

I'll always prefer the box with cover and disk/cartridge, which is good, because I own veeeeeeeery big shelves (unless it's download only, then i'll download it). My child will learn the ways of the box with cover and disk/cartridge, and he'll/she'll pass on my teachings to future generations and stuff........OF COURSE!!!!!

And i'm not saying retail download is not swell, because I understand the swell parts about it. I guess this is just my random way of saying "I prefer retail retail over retail downloads"

CaPPa

#34

CaPPa said:

I think that Liam Callahan is right, as a lot of my digital purchases have been sudden impulse buys.

I choose between physical or digital on a game by game basis, but generally I'm more likely to pick digital for games with a high amount of play time (like Monster Hunter) or ones that are well suited for offscreen play.

Gerbwmu

#36

Gerbwmu said:

I love the convenience of digit but other then indie or VC titles the only game I bought digitally was SMB3D. But really the instruction booklets and cover art aren't what they use to be.....I may buy more digit moving forward

Squiggle55

#37

Squiggle55 said:

"Of more than 6,000 people surveyed, aged 13 and older, 36% say they now play downloaded games on PCs, consoles or dedicated gaming handhelds such as the 3DS." — I don't think this means anything at all. I play downloaded games because of PS+ and because some games are download only. In fact I'm surprised that percentage is so low. By no means have I "gone digital", and I will never download a game that is the same price as the physical version.

"Another surprising figure is that of those presented with a choice between the download or physical copy of the same game at matching prices, 25% would choose the download; 30% would opt for the physical copy, while the remaining 45% were unsure." — This is the only poll question that means anything. I am surprised that 1/4 of gamers would actually choose digital at matching prices. I really honestly think a very high percentage of those gamers are younger and don't have the same appreciation for the value of their purchases because they aren't really paying for it anyway. So they might as well choose convenience. (I know there are some exceptions so don't bother saying you're old and download retail games. I'm saying I think the majority are young.)

These statistics would be vastly more interesting with age information and questions like are you buying these games with your own money.

Caryslan

#38

Caryslan said:

@DanMan82 That's a good question, and kinda related to the fact that TV networks never look at stuff like Hulu and their own streams when they decide to renew shows. I've had several shows that got canceled because the ratings were not good, but they were often the top shows on Hulu.

You would think with the massive push into digital, more companies would pay closer attention to those numbers on digital services.. I wonder how many copies of DKC:TF for example, were bought digitally in Japan compared to retail copies.

I will say this, if this trend keeps going, Gamestop may go the way of Blockbuster in about 10 to 15 years. If might go quicker if companies figure out a way to "trade" in digital downloads for credit on an online store.

Angelic_Lapras_King

#39

Angelic_Lapras_King said:

Its not surprising when XBLA has been offering digital versions of retail games for as low as £3 in their recent sales. They even offered a few of the Kinect ones for as low as 69p! XD

Lalivero

#40

Lalivero said:

@sinalefa I agree with you. Physical over digital any day of the week because of numerous reasons like you listed: you can trade, sell, lend to a friend, etc.

Along with that, you can actually be safe that the game stays in your hands(so long as you take care of it), and, as games get bigger, internet speed makes it an absolute nightmare to download stuff.

As someone also stated above, little eshop games are fine to download, but retail games are staying physical with me.

@unrandomsam Yeah, Amazon is fine, plus I have a couple game stores a reasonable distance away.

FrameAndCanvas

#41

FrameAndCanvas said:

I do the whole "same price or cheaper? Digital" thing. I also don't live far from multiple game retailers, but I love having the instant access to my game collection especially on the 3DS.

Sparx

#42

Sparx said:

Physical for consoles as I feel they have awesome boxes worth saving but digital fir my 3ds, so much more convenient than carrying the games with me

DerpSandwich

#43

DerpSandwich said:

I wonder if the Wii U's digital figures will go down once the Deluxe Digital Promotion ends this year. I know that I usually only buy games digitally if I can get them a lot cheaper than retail, and without the promotion it's going to be less significant. Pretty much just eShop card sales and Club Nintendo will be making the difference.

katsup

#44

katsup said:

I see monetary value in my games so I buy only physical when possible. Look at all older games on eBay fetching big money, you can't sell a digital copy without the console. Plus I am worried Nintendo may not let downloaded games transfer to the next generation like what MS and Sony did this generation.

Dark-Link73

#45

Dark-Link73 said:

Most of the full retail games I've DLed were because they were on special for 50% or more (MH3U for $30, RE for $25) and/or because of the Deluxe Bundle Promotion. I still prefer to have a physical copy of the my games if they are collector's editions. Once the Deluxe Bundle Promotion ends at the end of this year, I won't DL as many full retail games unless they are on special.

KittenKoder

#46

KittenKoder said:

These are bad statistics. They leave a lot of information out, as well as ignore the fact that Nintendo produces far fewer physical copies leaving little choice in the matter anyway. The categories are broad and vague, you can't place such things into so few categories, but that's how pollsters work, and why they're wrong more often than not.

Various "why" questions are ignored, for me, I download small games if given a choice, and there are a lot of those, but for full dev games I will fight tooth and nail to get the physical copy. But because of the number of small piddly games, I wind up downloading more games. I really wish people would learn more about how statistics work and why they are not always the best method for explaining things, and why statistics are not based on facts either.

umegames

#47

umegames said:

im switching all digital this year, starting tonite with tropical freeze. yoshis new island is the only physical im getting, only because i had amazon credit. and with the deluxe promo, it works out very well for me.

hcfwesker

#48

hcfwesker said:

I actually do have a question for MAB, Digital4Life activist. The WiiU home menu, the limited amount of screens that displays your DL'd games. I'm running out of space, so my question is this: Does the Home menu automatically expand to add more screens when it's overflowed, or do you have to eventually delete some games/apps to make room?

Ic3pick039

#50

Ic3pick039 said:

It's because they have less games in stores now. Also they have few wii u games wherever I go

ZyroXZ2

#51

ZyroXZ2 said:

Ya know, people called me foolish for stating over a year ago that moving forward, retail sales tracking of physical media is going to get less and less accurate as more people move to digital. I got hounded by all the "physical is better" people, and yet here we are, lol...

In 45 minutes, I'll be starting my digital download of DKC:TF :)

tsm7

#53

tsm7 said:

With eshop cards being 20% off at Best Buy plus the 10% ddp I'll be buying a few digital games but I won't go all digital.

Giygas_95

#54

Giygas_95 said:

I think I'll download Tropical Freeze. Kind of need to put my 1tb hard drive to use. Plus, Deluxe Digital promo!

goonow

#55

goonow said:

I only download games that are 20 dollars or less. I like to have the box and disk of full retail games.

sugarshack

#56

sugarshack said:

It makes more sense in terms of convenience. I have just sold most of my tv seasons on dvd and half of my films because the format is obsolete so I might as well get some decent cash now. I have films and tv shows galore on my external harddrive, I plug that into my bluray players usb and the ease of access to everything works just like my 6 disc cd changer in my truck a dozen years ago. still feels nice loading a physical game into the tray though. : )

paul1983190

#57

paul1983190 said:

i buy physical copy's all the time because most of the time they are cheaper. Like the Pokemon x and y it is still $40 for digital but i can buy it for $30 on physical one . They save money when you buy digital but you don't get any of the savings from you not get a cartridge and the box. With digital you are paying for the storage for the game not them. The only things i buy digital are VC or digital only games. Also if you play a game and don't like it or just sick of it you can sell it used.

Marioman64

#58

Marioman64 said:

i got a 2tb hard drive on my wii u, so that's a no-brainer

however my 16gb sd is full on my 3ds, so i might have to go retail until i get a bigger card

AVahne

#59

AVahne said:

I buy digital on PC and Android, half-physical/half-digital on Sony consoles, and mostly physical on Nintendo consoles with the only digital games I download being the cheap eShop-only games (also Unchained Blades, but I got that using my free $30 from the FE/SMT promo).
Once Nintendo joins the rest of the industry and brings an actual account system online (and starts doing discounts for their own retail games), I'll consider buying retail games digitally like I do with Playstation.

Action51

#60

Action51 said:

katsup said:

"... I am worried Nintendo may not let downloaded games transfer to the next generation like what MS and Sony did this generation"

Well, as far as Wii to Wii U, they included a "Wii U transfer tool" channel on the Wii that let you transfer your stuff from one console to the next. Now granted it was not perfect, and you would mostly have to access your content from the Wii menu within the Wii U operating system, but it was a generation over transfer.

Now with the ever-improving unified account system between 3DS and Wii U, it seems almost impossible that they won't allow you to do this now.

While it took Nintendo a while to catch up, remember that "last gen" (XB360, PS3, PSP, DS. Wii) was the first gen of consoles and handhelds to really have download only and full digital marketplaces.

Ernest_The_Crab

#61

Ernest_The_Crab said:

@Guybrush20X6 You can try ordering online from Amazon. That's what I did. This is the exact item: http://www.amazon.com/eForCity-dual-Micro-B-Cable-Black/dp/B005M0ICG2

It seems to work perfectly fine. Though strangely enough they didn't charge me shipping (since it was under $35).

@AVahne There's no one way in Hell, Norway that Nintendo will discount their own digital games (barring a player's choice selection). Unless the game got A LOT of flak, and I mean A LOT (like Other M for example) or sold fairly poorly (like ExciteBot: Trick Racing) Nintendo will not discount their games as they have a tendency to have very long legs. They may offer some kind of bundle discount but it's VERY doubtful that they would do any pure discounts.

@DerpSandwich That's a good point. The digital sales may drop due to their being no "perceived benefit" of getting digital games. Seeing as how the year isn't over though, I suspect we may get some kind of extension for it to partially appease early adopters (in addition to anything else they may have in the works).

Alpha2797

#62

Alpha2797 said:

I'm a digital-only gamer when it comes to the 3DS and PC. When it comes to consoles such as the PS3 and Wii U, it's retail unless if the download is cheaper and if I have the necessary memory on my storage device (hard drive).

erv

#63

erv said:

I'm a download only guy now, save for the very few I can't get through the eshop. I'm still tempted by disounts though, and currently, the price is only justifyable because I get 10% off using the premium discount thing.

If nintendo would release their games in digital for 10 less than retail, they would certainly get people to go digital more.

pixelman

#64

pixelman said:

I'm getting to the point where I'll buy most of my games digitally unless I think they're something really, really special that I want to have a hard copy of (like P4G and FFXHD). I'll buy games like Mario Kart digitally simply because it's more convenient.

katsup

#65

katsup said:

@Action51 I used the Wii U transfer tool and I applaud Nintendo for including it. We just have no idea what will happen on the next console in 5 years. We can only hope that our digital games won't be locked to our old console.

Zombie_Barioth

#66

Zombie_Barioth said:

@Squiggle55
I was thinking the same thing, "13 and older" is really telling. I remember talking to to my 13yr old cousin a year or so ago and having to explain that Wii points really are just another currency and its still money in the end.

Such a conversation says something about peoples' view of digital distribution at that age, especially when gifting store credit is so common. Digital distribution doesn't hold much weight unless your the one handling the finances unfortunately.

ToniK

#67

ToniK said:

I would love to go digital but financially it doesn't make sense at all. The prices in the euro eShop are RIDICULOUS. You can get a retail copy of Arkham City for 10-15 euros, in eShop it's 60 euros. For the price of Wind Waker HD I got a retail copy with the Ganon statue. As long as physical is cheaper I will stay with my discs.

SCAR392

#68

SCAR392 said:

Digital for me. 12 of my 15 games are digital. I bought the CoD games and didn't really bother to get the digital version of Nintendo Land that I got with my Deluxe console.

I also prefer VC over the carts and have plenty of indie games. I think it's alot better to have everything in one place.

My entire Xbox 360 and PS3 library is digital, too. I've been doing this for a while, so I was happy that Nintendo has embraced the eShop as they have.

Bolt_Strike

#69

Bolt_Strike said:

I think a healthy mix of both physical and digital is the best way to go. It's nice to be able to not worry about discs getting lost or broken, but the cost of not being able to share or resell it can be a detriment in some situations. It really depends on how you play. Personally, I prefer physical for the time being, but I'm not opposed to digital.

SCAR392

#70

SCAR392 said:

Plus, there's actually some pretty good deals most of the time. RE: Revelations was $20 during a sale, and I used a $5 eShop promo code to cut it to $15. There's indie sales, Scriblenauts and Rayman went down in price, and they occasionally do a 30% off.

In NA, usually you can get a pretty good deal on buying digital. Best Buy is selling eShop cards for 20%. If you pair that with a store's reward program and the eShop promo, you can get $10+ off the original price pretty easily.

That's what I do, anyway.

cheleuitte

#71

cheleuitte said:

I buy digital only when I have a better deal of discount and physical copies of zelda and some mario games

chiptoon

#72

chiptoon said:

For a while I was downloading a lot of games from the eShop. This was mainly because Nintendo's distributors in South Africa are so useless its often impossible to find retail copies of even wildly successful games. Unfortunately the Rand to Pound exchange rate has stopped me from downloading anything for the moment.

ArcanineArco

#73

ArcanineArco said:

I will be so upset when the day comes when all video games are only available digitally. Having the game disc, box and manual means a lot to me and it has done for so many years since I was a kid, looking at my shelf with my collection of games always makes me have a smile on my face.

If I can buy a game physically, there is no way I would download it digitally. I only download eshop exclusive titles, virtual console and indie titles etc because they are not available in physical form (excluding virtual console) Also, currently the download versions are even more EXPENSIVE! (yes I know the reason why). No way am I paying even MORE money for just a download without a physical box, manual and disc. Also, no re-sale value what so ever. Doesn't effect me as much though because I don't trade in games any more because the trade in prices are pathetic in my opinion, plus I collect games, but I know there are people who have to trade in games to go towards another game they want

There are many people who prefer physical copies and there are many people who prefer downloading digitally. I think they should keep both. Unfortunately, I don't think this will happen, although I am confident that Nintendo will be the last of the big three to scrap physical copies completely. Remember, this is my OPINION. I have nothing against digital downloads at all, they are just not for me. It would be awesome to have both forever :)

I-love-tea

#74

I-love-tea said:

I love the idea of going all digital but for my Wii U Nintendo have made a number of choices that stop me. First is the cost, not just on release but over the lifetime of the game. Nintendoland on disc from Game is £20 in the e-shop it is £50, that is utter insanity. Second is the worry that games are tied to my hardware. Lose my 3ds or buy a new one (the screen does scratch easily) and any downloads aren't there. My Wii U breaks? Nintendo MIGHT restore the games, but I'm not 100% on that, they legally could refuse. Third is storage. I know, I know, I can just get a hard-drive for the Wii U, and I probably will, but it is another barrier. The storeage supplied on the Wii U is sometimes only enough for one game (Lego City Undercover?), pretty poor.
So as it is I love the convenience of digital, less clutter, no hunting for the disc but while other platforms tackle at least some of these issues I'm much more likely impulse buy from them.

whodatninja

#75

whodatninja said:

The only games i buy digitally are small in size, such as Virtual Console games. Why? There's under 30 gb of space in total on my Wii U and if i bought every game digitally i'd run out of space very quickly.

RedYoshi999

#76

RedYoshi999 said:

I don't care whether you go for all physical, all digital, or both. Personal preferences are your thing. But it bugs me to see so many all physical people who see digital supporters as inferior because they "don't understand" why you chose it.

For me it's a simple choice to go all digital. My location has always been a huge barrier for physical games. There's no stores in my town that stock new releases, forcing me to drive 30-60 minutes away to the nearest game store (and I don't have a car.) Alternatively, I can wait an entire week for a game to arrive from an online order. Therefore, the ability to download a game 2 hours BEFORE the official midnight release (thanks to timezones) will always win over a week's wait.

Price isn't much of an issue either in Australia. Having a look at DKC:TF on our most popular retailers websites, I can see very little discounts (if any) being applied. With the Deluxe Promotion, it's actually cheaper to get it on the eShop! /end rant on why I prefer digital.

Gonzo1

#77

Gonzo1 said:

It all depends on price for, I'm currently downloading DKTF which I just purchased the download code from Game for £32.99 which was the same as the disc price. For that I get Game Reward Points and Nintendo Premium Points too which will also give me enough points for another free £5.00 eShop code. :)

c1pher_c0mplet

#78

c1pher_c0mplet said:

I probably wouldn't mind going exclusively digital on 3DS if Nintendo had a proper account system. But at the same time, Nintendo games (esp. the first-party ones) tend to either retain or go up in value with physical copies complete w/the box and manuals. So, I dunno.

Farmboy74

#80

Farmboy74 said:

If the price is right I buy digital (Pikmin 3 at launch) but it's mainly physical discs so far just picked up Deus Ex Human Revolution & Rayman Legends for £24!! On the Eshop these two games would have cost £54.
I think for now digital for Eshop only games and physical copies for retail discs ( barring any steam like sales)

Peach64

#81

Peach64 said:

I prefer digital but I'm really reluctant on Nintendo consoles because of the account system and pricing. PSN and Xbox Live have had utterly amazing sales for the last 4 months, while the only time Nintendo came close to such prices, it was a mistake. I'm 100 digital on Vita while most 360/PS3 stuff I've bought in the last 18 months is digital. I also buy a lot on Steam and IOS which I bet a lot of fully digital responders were purely Steam/IOS

No clutter on shelves, the convenience of having everything on the system to load up within seconds, and never having to worry about discs getting scratched up/save batteries dying are the biggest advantages for me.

WitchSugoi

#82

WitchSugoi said:

I'm not as adverse to digital as I was years ago (having to suffer with Itunes especially in their "protected" media phase will do that to anyone) because when I started buying Asian media I realized how worthless physical media as become in the US. CD's come in easily breakable jewel cases, not many artists (at least the ones I listen to) offer sleeve covers or enticing external bonuses. Unless there's a pricier limited edition, games come with paper thin "manuals" in big plastic wastes of space and your selected retailer might have a preorder bonus. Movies are pretty much the only thing still worth the physical price tag. So at least when it comes to domestic purchases, I'm pretty pro-digital.

That said, I still find a certain magic in actually going out to a brick and mortar and picking up a highly anticipated game or album in it's release day. I did this last with Pokemon X and probably will do this with Triple Deluxe and MK8 too. But I'll also be buying a 32GB SD Card for my 3DS and vast majority of my purchases this year will indeed be digital.

Sean_Aaron

#83

Sean_Aaron said:

@readyletsgo how is it a rip-off? You think I've paid full-price for anything bar a handful of titles? Download codes from GAME get me nearly %25 off the eShop price for Donkey Kong Tropical Freeze on day one - you show me a shop price that low available right now.

The main reason I buy digital is convenience - I like being able to tap channel to launch a game; I don't regard a row of plastic boxes in my lounge as decorative.

Yes there's a risk that a title could be pulled from the shop, that's why I have a 1TB backup drive I copy my stuff to from time to time (Nintendo really needs to sort this out though as it's clumsy as hell due to the "box won't turn on with more than one device attached and warning if you plug in a drive with the box on" nonsense). Of course nobody seems to remember that CDs and DVDs get recalled from time to time and physical media can become scarce if there's a limited print run of a popular title - how much is Xenoblade now? Can I even find Pikmin 2 for Wii OR GameCube?

deanwig

#84

deanwig said:

Am in the uk and need to get a hard drive just don't know what one to get
Coz I don't want one you plug in

Stuniverse

#85

Stuniverse said:

A big factor here is broadband. Here, the assumption is everyone has unlimited usage. It's not the case at all. Most people can't afford to use up tons of download usage. Many games are 20-30GB. For this crowd, it's simply not an option to buy retail games online and download them.

Dragonquester

#86

Dragonquester said:

I prefer to own physical copies of games provided they're available, but if not I go digital. I actually have been downloading quite a few games lately as there have been a lot of good indie games coming out lately. Can't wait for the new Shantae.

Dragonquester

#87

Dragonquester said:

Call me old fashioned, but I like to own the physical copy of a game. I'll admit that digital is definitely more convenient, but being an older gamer I just like all the collectables that come with this hobby, like box art. I know is strange but I still prefer cartridges. Wish the Wii U had big chunky plastic cartridges. Those where the days.

lamco

#88

lamco said:

Really depends what's cheapest. But i've always bought physical copies of games with my 3ds. With my psp 3000 i download all my games via psn for the excuse that my umd drive is broken and is too expensive to fix.

MAB

#89

MAB said:

It's good to see some evidence of a D4L takeover starting to weaken the defences of the crappy worthless physical market. When my legion fully crushes the opposition, gamers will finally realize they were missing out on the more superior version with better framerates, no glitches and less loading to wade through... Developers will be even happier because they will actually get paid for their efforts ;)

Untitled
YA'LL BEEN SCHOOLED

@hcfwesker
Untitled

electrolite77

#90

electrolite77 said:

There's not a chance of gaming going digital only while there's consumers who don't like being ripped off. Digital is great for smaller games that wouldn't see a retail release but for full price games it's poor value for money.

Higher prices and no resale value aren't attractive selling points. Handing over control of distribution and pricing to one vendor is not a good idea as a consumer. On Nintendo there's the extra issue with the lack of a proper Account system.

Just because the industry says Digital is the future doesn't mean it is. They want it to be because it suits them. But while there are gamers around that aren't mugs, it won't happen.

Diddy_kong

#91

Diddy_kong said:

As long as games are available at retail that's how I will be buying them. I like having a collection of cases on my gaming shelf. Get with the times I will not.

eviLaTtenDant

#92

eviLaTtenDant said:

As long as a download costs more than 20 € that basically means i won't get the game digitally before it drops below that.
If that ever happens it depends on the boxart for me. If i don't like it and it's also not a game in a series i really love, it's digital download then.

Sean_Aaron

#93

Sean_Aaron said:

@deanwig Any name-brand one should be good, but you'll need a y-cable to hook it up because the Wii U doesn't output enough power over USB to drive one properly over a single cable. I have an itty bitty Seagate 1TB backup drive I got on Amazon for fifty quid; I then had to import a USB3 y-cable from China to use it. It's only my backup because it prefer the certainty of an externally powered device.

The only real barrier is delivery infrastructure as others have noted, but with fibre rollout that won't be true for long in the richest countries. I think in the near future you'll see an end to physical media sales outside of countries with lesser infrastructure. At the same time I expect there will be a gradual shift to a subscription model to ensure a more stable income stream. This will be very annoying to people who prefer a one-time payment, but they'll be in the minority since people have been conditioned to pay subscription to watch TV or use the internet. Payouts from service providers will be made based upon a Neilsen-style rating system and Nintendo, Valve, etc will become the equivalent of the old TV networks trying to get people use their channels over others. So says Karnak the Great!

electrolite77

#94

electrolite77 said:

DKC TF - Digital £39.99, £32.99 online retail
Zelda WW - Digital £49.99, £34.75 online retail
Mario Sonic Sochi - Digital £39.99, £20.00 online retail
Rayman Legedns - Digital £23.99, £17.86 online retail
Assassins Creed Iv - Digital £55.99, £25.00 online retail
Mario 3D World - Digital £49.99, £34.85 online retail

etc. etc. DOn't let your pants get pulled down folks

LunaPon-3

#95

LunaPon-3 said:

I'm downloading DK right now, and in the morning the game will be waiting for me ready to play. Also, I don't have to pay the extra 10% tax (California blows). The only downside is that my internet speed is very slow. About 5 mbps, if I'm lucky.

LunaPon-3

#96

LunaPon-3 said:

@deanwig
well sadly that is the only option. I purchased a USB 500 GB hard drive for $30 American. They're not too expensive.

Anguspuss

#98

Anguspuss said:

@10000mario
I managed pick up the toshiba 2tb usb 3 drive for £40 ove xmas on amazon. Bought all the sale titles on eshop. Same with my 3ds I just prefer the easier to having it all on hdd. I did play a lot on pc on steam etc as well.
Only retail games I have is cabelas titles for wii & wii u. (my one guilty gaming pleasure). I also have one 3ds cart mainly so crap dosent get in cart slot.

Sean_Aaron

#99

Sean_Aaron said:

@electrolite77 I paid £32.99 for Donkey Kong download - just buy the code from GAME online, it's not difficult.

@deanwig I honestly don't know one way or another. I had a plug in drive to use so it was convenient and I don't trust a portable drive to last as long as a desktop drive. Having said that I don't actually know if there's any difference between the two beyond the casing and you might not have the luxury of extra outlets. I would say that if you get a desktop drive be sure your power supply is plugged into a surge protector and have a second drive for backup purposes to save you hours of re downloads and loss of save data.

MAB

#100

MAB said:

Yeah, a powered HDD is more reliable in the long run ;)

Hey look everyone, physical games are $20 (developer closes its doors due to no profit return on their effort)... Nobody gets up in the morning for work unless they're gonna get paid properly ;)

Sean_Aaron

#104

Sean_Aaron said:

@electrolite77 I don't buy a game with an eye to resale, I buy it because it looks like something I want to play and I think the price is fair. It costs the same amount to make a game regardless of the distribution media and considering the price of a new Nintendo release hasn't increased to keep up with inflation I'd argue the retail price has gone down in the past decade.

Spoony_Tech

#105

Spoony_Tech said:

I would go mostly digital but Nintendo didn't make it easy on the 3ds! I've got a 32 gig and i've filled up just about 85% of it. Not to keen on another upgrade and more expense. I've already went from 2-8-32 gigs. Does anyone knoe if a 64 gig will work without being tricked into working? Don't really want to go higher then that atm.

Anguspuss

#106

Anguspuss said:

One good thing spoony_Tech you can pick up another 32gb card quite cheep unlike the bloody ripp off Vita. Ended up getting rid of mine as storage cards where just a ripp off

Spoony_Tech

#107

Spoony_Tech said:

I use to sell my games all the time. I would never have more then 10-15 games in my house ever. Now since i like my games and never seem to finish them i haven't sold back a game in forever. I now have about 19 retail games dl'ed just on my 3ds then alone another 15 physical. I do however buy used if the price is right.

Spoony_Tech

#108

Spoony_Tech said:

@Anguspuss Yeah that might be the better way to go. Still kinda defeats the purpose of not switching out a cartridge though. Now i would have to carry around a memory card all the time. I've also considered deleting a big file or two and back up the data to dl again later but that's also not convenient as if i want to play those right away it would take a while to re-download.

Anguspuss

#109

Anguspuss said:

I actually just copy the files over to my pc. One great things about the sd card you could just copy it straight over to your pc & have as many sets as you like.
But price sdhc card you can pick up them quite cheep. but over 32gb start to get pricey.

Arcamenel

#110

Arcamenel said:

If it's a game that I know I will put hours of gameplay into I'm not opposed to downloading. If I think it'll be a one play through type of thing I go for retail so I can resell or trade-in.

Darknyht

#111

Darknyht said:

I prefer digital most of the time. I hate having to switch discs out or carry media around. But my purchase rate on Nintendo Wii U has been less due to their policies.

Sean_Aaron

#112

Sean_Aaron said:

I still want a portable account. Not wanting to sell me another Wii U if I want some limited edition case or new colour seems a bit daft, really. Not to mention the theft/fire aspect, but I guess insurance would cover that (not my saves though!) and it does make me a lot more choosy about big-ticket (over a tenner) releases - especially if they have no demo.

WeskJago

#113

WeskJago said:

Booo! Down with digital sales! Hard copies last forever and can never be "taken away" from you! They take no data space either because they are a card.

Sean_Aaron

#114

Sean_Aaron said:

Nothing lasts forever, but software you can transfer to different media comes closer than a cart or an optical disc!

iEndzone

#115

iEndzone said:

Man, I really would be downloading games, especially DKCTF today, if my WiiU WOULD LET ME ONTO THE ESHOP.

Error code 111-9000 all the way. Tried re-connecting the WiiU to the internet. Tried deleting internet settings and putting them back in again. Tried to put my WiiU closer to my wireless router. Tried restarting my wireless router. Tried plugging my WiiU into my home wall power electricity. Tried ALL THESE THINGS AT THE SAME TIME.

Halp pls? I would really like it if I could get back into the eshop again -_-
Other internet services work perfectly fine on the WiiU, except for Miiverse, which loads in an HTML5 format.

Darkness3131

#116

Darkness3131 said:

As someone who enjoy collecting, I will always want a physical copy. I do download some games from the eshop, but only if they are not available at retail, which isn't very often. I enjoy having the physical copy to call my own, keep on a shelf, or take to a friend's house.

edcomics

#117

edcomics said:

What keeps me buying physical copies is... well... When it comes to 3DS, I'm a sucker for pack-ins like artbooks and soundtrack CDs. I like extras, and the download-only games don't come with that stuff. The Wii U games tend to not come with that stuff, but I'm just in the habit of buying a physical game. I don't want to buy an extra storage device just for downloads, and my 3DS SD card is always maxing out with my downloaded games. With more download-only titles like Senran Kagura Burst (in NA), though, it looks like the decision is being made for us.

Kirk

#119

Kirk said:

If these companies would stop charging so f'n much for the digital versions they might actually see that more people would be willing to switch to digital and a lot sooner too...

mamp

#120

mamp said:

In my case some of my downloads can be spontaneous, sometimes I'll just sit there and for no reason "I'm gonna buy _ on the Eshop" and there I go.

shane1228

#121

shane1228 said:

I have only owned a 3DS for a few months(don't really play the 360 anymore) and have only purchased one physical game and about 10 digital games so this seems fairly accurate. I definitely attribute it to cheaper prices for digital. Also what I have noticed with 3DS games, is the good ones worth spending $40 on in the stores in my area are never in stock so I always end up buying them digitally.

Anguspuss

#122

Anguspuss said:

shane1228 said:$40 on in the stores are never in stock so I always end up buying them digitally.

Same here I ended up buying Fire Emblem digital. Was worth it as ive sunk a hell of a lot of hours into it.
DK Tropical freeze 79% & counting driving me bannanas waiting boom boom

SCAR392

#123

SCAR392 said:

@MAB @Sean_Aaron
I went with a portable drive using a y-cable, because portable drives tend to have better durability and are smaller. I also had faster load and write times having the y-cable.

I had a powered HDD of the same brand(Toshiba), but I accidentally moved it while it was on and it started making weird noises. I returned it to Toshiba under warranty and replaced it with the portable version that has shock sensors and such. I know it was my fault that I moved the thing while it was on, but I'd rather avoid breaking a drive by just getting one that can handle being moved around. As I mentioned before, it worked better than the ext. powered drive, so I'm thinking that dual power USB enhances data rates, but that other drive may have been defective to begin with.

Just my $0.02

SubZer023

#124

SubZer023 said:

I have a 32Gb SD card in my 3DSXL and i have one Retail Download which is ACNL and 16-20 Downloads of 3D classic 3D games And VC. my Girlfriend just got resident evil Mercenaries from eshop this week to so yeah eshop seems to be doing good in terms of sells

WesCash

#125

WesCash said:

I'm completely digital .... on PC.

Console makers have a lot of work to do in order to make digital sales a legitimate alternative. Especially Nintendo with it's piss-poor system.

TheKingOfTown

#126

TheKingOfTown said:

I prefer digital through and through. Way more convenient and I don't give a toss about having the physical disc and manual.

MrCanzine

#127

MrCanzine said:

@cookiex or the store owner, in this case Nintendo. They'd have records of all sales for anything going through the eShop. Sony would also have records of anything moving through the playstation store.

fmfsony

#128

fmfsony said:

@Guybrush20X6
Just buy a "Y" cable for portable drives.
This will allow one part of the "Y" to be used for data and the other for power.
I bought mine at BH, it's very inexpensive and works perfectly.
I'm using a small laptop external drive which failed to start spinning without it, now I have MH3 and other games running from the external drive.

soma

#129

soma said:

Well, first things first, Nintendo has to do a proper account system. I can understand on any other system, but with Nintendo is a huge risk. If my console is stolen or stops working then I lose all my games, so is understandable if most people want to download cheap or small games only.

Henmii

#130

Henmii said:

What they probably don't tell is that all the interesting games go straight to download, so it's no wonder people go more and more to downloads!

ToxieDogg

#131

ToxieDogg said:

I still don't think 'all digital' would work for all games. It's one thing having the convenience of downloading, say, a 1-2gb indie game now and then but quite another if everybody's expected to download 10gb+ files all the time. And game sizes are increasing, not shrinking.

And then there's always a portion of the market that won't ever have their console online at all, or will barely ever have it connected online.

Until everybody has super fast internet and download caps/limits become less of an issue, then physical copies won't be going away.

MAB

#132

MAB said:

Except the data is painting a picture of extreme change... PHYSICAL 2 DEATH ;)

FireHorsePrime

#134

FireHorsePrime said:

I would like to point out that gamers should continue to urge publishers to release physical discs of their games. They have collectible and monetary value and we should always buy physical when we can. However I DID just purchase a 320gb HD for my 360 so I can download free games with gold and remixed HD classics like REZ that can't be found anywhere else without a heafty price tag and/or needing the original console it was released on.

Gashole

#135

Gashole said:

I just get physical (!). It has 3 advantages: you can get it cheaper used, it doesn't use up all that sd card space (at least on a 3DS), and, when you're sick of playing that game, you're not stuck with it, you can trade it back.

FireHorsePrime

#136

FireHorsePrime said:

@SuperMarioBros3 I bought a 16gb SD card for my flame red 3DS that I've carred with me through two additional upgrades. It's now in my Zelda 3DS XL which stores all my games including Link Between Worlds, and over 20 other games and I still have 90000 blocks. VC games don't take that much space and when it comes to new games, there's still plenty of room. But yes, physical is better in the long run. I made sure to pick up the cartridge for Bravely Default.

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