The Digital Revolution is claiming its first victims

At the beginning of the year, we posted. that the way we consume videogames was changing irrevocably. Nowhere is it clearer then in the latest sales numbers. Viva la revolucion!

Watch Dogs 2 is a much better game than its predecessor. But it’s apparently selling less than its predecessor, and not solely because the first game was so mediocre. It’s an industry wide phenomenon. Except there’s nothing “phenomenal” about it at all.

Let’s take a look at some of the details from thisĀ Games Industry article

  • Launch week physical sales of Watch Dogs 2 in the UK: Down EIGHTY percent.
  • Titanfall 2 hasn’t been out a MONTH, yet has already been discounted significantly by several retailers (up to 50%)
  • Weak launches for the latest Call of Duty (despite it being the only way you’ll get the remastered game) and Dishonored 2
  • GameStop calling for a double digit decline in year to year sales in November, leading to a 5-10% drop in total for 4Q 2016.

Now, it’s not ALL because of the digital revolution, but a lot of it is because one of the major factors propping up the new game market (the subsidies caused by trading in old, completed games) isn’t as big, as more and more people purchase their games digitally, which has no resale value), and because the market is moving away from the big game (60 or so hour game), to the mega-game (something you can milk for 200 hours or more).

That’s what seperates the Destiny/Warcrafts/Division etcetera from others. They’re engendered to sneak in and get more money from you either from expansion packs/Season Passes (Destiny, Division), monthly fees/microtransactions, or both (Warcraft). But they do it over a length of time that folks don’t realize that they’re spending $100-$150 or more on their games.

Let’s take World of Warcraft for example. Let’s say there’s 1 expansion every two years, (so $40, spread out over two years, $20 a year), reasonable right? Then they hit you with the monthly fees ($15/month, 180).

That means they’re getting $200 a year from you.

Destiny is the same way. $60 base game, $30 expansion, $25 season pass.. it adds up very quickly. Fallout 4? How many expansions have they put out?

So less of us are purchasing the game in stores, more digitally, which means less people are trading in games, which depresses the physical market, which means even fewer people are buying in stores.. it’s a vicious circle. Combined with the changing tastes in how we consume games, this is the revolution, kicked into high gear

The market is spreading out between the haves (where to experience everything, you will need to eventually shell out $100-$200, but will be one of a few games that you play in a year.), and the have nots (independent/smaller games that don’t take up as much time, but have a much lower price point). Where this leaves the traditional blockbuster games is something all of us New Englanders are very familiar with this year..

Out in the cold.