US PC download sales surpass retail sales, says NPD

Monday, 20th September 2010 12:21 GMT By Johnny Cullen

pc rig

NPD’s just sent out a notice announcing that PC downloads have passed retail sales for the first six months of the year in the US.

During the period of January-June this year, 11.2 million games were downloaded compared to 8.2 million units sold at retail.

Games sold at retail still share a better dollar revenue, with 57 percent compared to 43 percent from digital services.

However, sales of downloaded and retail games combined were down by 21 percent, with unit sales down by 14 percent year-on-year.

Based on unit percentage share, Steam and came out as the biggest download services for games in frontline and casual games respectively.

“One major finding from this latest report is that the ‘big got bigger’ in the first half of 2010, with both Steam and Bigfish capturing a bigger share of full-game PC games digital download sales than they did last year,” said Anita Frazier of NPD.

“The overall decline of PC games when combining sales via both digital downloads and physical retail sales is impacted by the expansion of social network gaming as well as the continued expansion of free game options.”



  1. AHA-Lambda

    haha about time then!! :D

    #1 4 years ago
  2. Lord Gremlin

    I’m not from US but even I buy PC games only on Steam.

    #2 4 years ago
  3. Yoshi

    I’m sorry did I hear something? PC gaming dying did someone say?…. I didn’t think so.

    #3 4 years ago
  4. absolutezero

    Wheres loki?

    #4 4 years ago
  5. Psychotext

    @3: Isn’t that sort of argued by the text in the article Yoshi?

    “However, sales of downloaded and retail games combined were down by 21 percent, with unit sales down by 14 percent year-on-year.”

    21% decline is no joke. Not dying, but possibly not that well.

    #5 4 years ago
  6. Michael O’Connor

    @5 The console sector isn’t exactly going up either, to be honest.

    #6 4 years ago
  7. Psychotext

    Software sales for the console sector are down 8.8% YTD. Not great, but a fair chunk less than the PC sector.

    (That 8.8% decline is also without taking into consideration downloadable games / DLC on consoles)

    #7 4 years ago

    Boxes are old hat.

    #8 4 years ago
  9. OlderGamer

    I wonder if there is anyway to know if the DD games from Wiiware/VC, PSN, or XBL have increased or in anyway impacted or cut into the 8.8% deceline in retail software sales for the consoles?

    In other words maybe this is just the result of the econemy. Maybe too many high priced games with DLC. Maybe just burnt out audiances tired of sequels. Or maybe it truely is a result of the Online MP masses not needing/wanting new games because they are content with playing Online.

    #9 4 years ago
  10. DSB

    Giga said it.

    @2 Ditto. Except for a few indies and what not. I get pretty annoyed if I have to go around Steam.

    @Psychotext I’m pretty sure you know there are a lot of factors in that. I can’t think of a single PC blockbuster so far this year, beyond Starcraft 2. And that pony isn’t gonna win the race on it’s own.

    I’d wait and see once the big FPS’s start hitting. I expect Civ 5 to do alright as well.

    #10 4 years ago
  11. loki

    US PC download sales surpass retail sales, it is not very hard

    #11 4 years ago
  12. DarkElfa

    “…it is not very hard” – loki

    Funny, that’s what his girlfriend said. hmm…..


    #12 4 years ago
  13. SwiftRanger

    This is bad news to be honest. The digital distribution revolution didn’t do much for consumer rights, it even got worse.

    #13 4 years ago
  14. Qwaf


    Unless you use steam, where you’re pretty well looked after. The best game sales ANYONE has, Valve offering a service that lessens the need for DRM for publishers, encouraging them to get rid of it, etc.

    #14 4 years ago
  15. Grimrita

    The beauty of steam is that if you purchase a downloaded game, its still stored there to redownload should you need to reformat or get a new hard drive.

    The only problem arises are with different launch dates. Look no further than the Total War farce this year when the game was released in the USA but the people in the UK got their copies 3 days early but couldnt install it due to the dates.

    Thankfully after FIVE hours of community pressure, the DRM was lifted and we managed to play the same time as our friends across the pond.

    Digital downloading is a great service but ISP providers need to up their limits in some cases because 1 game could eat up your limit in one hit.

    #15 4 years ago
  16. bpcgos

    Any negative comments should considering that this is US only sales result and not representing the rest of the world because of very different gaming culture and technology. We will never ever be able to buy any of those pc games sold in steam, even if we want to, due to slow internet connection in almost all household, unreasonable payment method(having a credit card? its way too “high class luxury” for us) and very high game price(man, 1 AAA games price would be more than enough too feed me for a month here) .

    Bcos of that, we in Indonesia (or maybe asia,except for Japan of course) are always love to play online game for free(yes, its almost all online games are free to play here without any important restriction)at the local game center.

    Just imagine that steam would open a local server here, with a decent price and online activation that can be only done with local IP number. Than we can pay the games by our cell phone deposit,bank transfer or prepaid voucher(it’s all common paying method here). I’m very sure PC games sale (especially AAA titles) will arose all over the world and defeat any consoles game sales!

    Just whimming, really! Don’t mention it !

    EDIT: fix some mispelling

    #16 4 years ago
  17. Keivz

    Hard to believe considering the comments made by the DD folks earlier this year IIRC. And 21%? Ouch. More fuel to the PC is dying fire. I’ve only bought 3 pc games this year thus far myself, though.

    #17 4 years ago

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