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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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Some times the good people win ...
By nOpeMan on 7/23/2010 12:09:37 PM , Rating: 3
Valve is in the position to have the near monopol for triple A title online releases. And in fact, I'm very happy about that. They deserve it.

All they do is channel all the multiplattform triple A shootergames, which are usually cheap ports, into one system. And discount the hell out of it. Because Valve knows what is on the table (and Direct2Drive haves discounts too). Not triple A PC titles, just console games worth of max. 20 bucks.

I can get 100000 hours playtime on steam for 50 bucks or less. Most Steam users have several unplayed games in their library from sales months/years back.

Valve exploits not us gamers, they exploit the market and their own position in it as content deliver system. Third party's (EA/ATVI) produce cheap oneyear cycles to fill the content blanks with multiplattform/strategy and casual. And every year there is one or two "real" PC games published.

Here the last good bets for "real" triple A PC games... the rest are just multiplattform suckers. The last two even are on the edge to the gamepadworld because they let their greed take place of their passion.

Valve
Blizzard
idSoftware
Bethesda

Coincidentally also the company's who still give out level editors, no matter how "BIG MASSIVE TRIPLE AAA" their release is. Because they don't need DLC's, they have the community to extend the shelflife of the games. Those company's produce milestones, not crappy oneyear cycle bullsh*t.

PC gamer out

PS: Nobody mentions DICE pls, it took them months to fix the mousesupport and serverbrowser in BC2. And now they help EA to crap out MoH.




By ertomas on 7/23/2010 2:18:54 PM , Rating: 3
I think the Orange box is the best example of this.

I bought it for 50 bucks when it came out a few years ago and I have played countless TF2 hours since. This game alone was worth the money and the package included HL2 and episodes plus Portal...

Great value for the money...


By xthetenth on 7/23/2010 6:45:02 PM , Rating: 2
Don't forget stardock and their impulse. They got the ball really rolling on the sales (just steam had the sales to make the publishers accept it), their download speeds are much better, and they make/publish great strategy games.


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