Print 41 comment(s) - last by derricker.. on Jul 26 at 2:31 PM

Services like Steam and Direct2Drive continue to mount in popularity

It's no secret that digital downloads of video games -- be it on the console or PC -- are growing in popularity.  However, the latest numbers may come as a surprise to some.

According to a newly published study by market researchers at the NPD Group, entitled "PC Games Digital Downloads", almost half of the purchases of PC games in 2009 were done online.  The survey estimates that 21.3 million PC games were purchased online, while 23.5 million games were sold in U.S. retail stores last year.

That places the percentage of downloads at about 47.5 percent.  Overall Steam was the most popular download service, followed by Direct2Drive, Blizzard's direct download system, EA's direct download system, and the World of Warcraft MMO.

Online social network gaming is also on the rise with 4.3 million users jumping on board between Q3 2009 to Q4 2009.  Those gains have hurt the casual gaming download market, which was topped last year by Big Fish Games.  Casual gaming titles, which typically feature addictive gameplay and shareware schemes of some sort, are slowly losing ground as customers discover free or cheap options on smart phones or social networks.

Overall, the report delivered good news for those in the gaming industry who make PC games.  A previous NPD report had shown retail gaming sales to be down as much as 15 percent in June.  That report only looked at offline purchases, though.  The industry may have actually grown when online purchases were factored in.

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RE: makes sense to me
By muhahaaha on 7/23/2010 11:57:30 AM , Rating: 2
I'll admit, I used to download games from illegitimate sources for "free".

But now with Steam, I am happy to pay for them because they are almost always cheaper than retail, often have a "free trial" weekend, and most of the money is going to the developers (no EA/Ubisoft middlemen.)

RE: makes sense to me
By Mitch101 on 7/23/2010 12:32:21 PM , Rating: 2
Worth Mentioning is the steam community. I play first person shooters like Left 4 Dead and Steam makes it great in getting a GOOD group of players together or calling in a friend when your having trouble. The only thing better is a lan party.

RE: makes sense to me
By Pirks on 7/23/2010 3:12:08 PM , Rating: 2
no EA/Ubisoft middlemen
as if valvemen are somehow better

RE: makes sense to me
By someguy123 on 7/23/2010 5:20:01 PM , Rating: 4
Considering they appear to be giving a much larger cut of the profits to the respective developers, have lower than retail pricing on majority of products, and have deals where you can get games for literally a dollar per game in a pack, I'd say they're leagues better than EA/ubisoft middle men who limit me to an arbitrary amount of reinstalls because some pirate cracks their DRM with ease.

RE: makes sense to me
By TheMan876 on 7/25/2010 4:46:27 PM , Rating: 2
If Steam has sales of "All Ubisoft games" or "All EA Games" then how is there no EA/Ubi middleman?

"What would I do? I'd shut it down and give the money back to the shareholders." -- Michael Dell, after being asked what to do with Apple Computer in 1997

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