UKIE's digital charts project has taken huge strides this year, with more data than ever so that we now have a semi-accurate picture of the UK PC download market.
MCV can reveal the latest data from that project, including data from IPSOS and GfK Chart-Track, including data from Q2 2013 and for the full first half of the year.
The contrast between the PC boxed charts and the PC digital charts is pronounced.
Seven of the Top Ten boxed games do not feature at all in the digital charts – these include six games based on The Sims and Football Manager 2013, which was the No.1 boxed game for Q2 2013. These titles have a more mainstream audience to the typical PC gamer, and this audience is perhaps not as digital savvy as core gamers.
It is the more casual genres such as puzzle games and sims that are mostly bought in boxes. Meanwhile action, shooter and strategy games are largely bought via digital channels. Overall, simulation games are the most popular PC titles (accounting for 23 per cent of all sales). The majority of these games are bought in boxes.
The No.1 PC download game was SimCity, one of the few titles that appears in both charts. However, the PC download chart separates out sales of the Standard and Gold Edition versions of Civilization V, and had they been combined they would have been the No.1 UK PC download game for Q2. Note, that No.10 in the PC boxed chart is StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm. This game does not feature in the download charts because Activision Blizzard is currently not involved in UKIE's digital chart project.
The success of The Sims and SimCity means that EA is the UK’s No.1 PC games publisher by quite a large margin, ahead of Civilization and BioShock publisher 2K and Total War firm Sega.
The PC’s software market share in Q2 rose five per cent year-on-year, more than other platform and closing the gap on PlayStation 3. Note, we do not have data for mobile or tablet sales.
Both Xbox 360 and PS3 also saw slight increases in market share, while Nintendo's legacy platforms suffered the biggest declines. It will be interesting to see if the launch of PlayStation 4 and Xbox One will derail the increase in PC market share, or if they will merely replace the market share loss of current generation platforms.
In terms of cost, boxed PC games were more expensive than digital ones during the second quarter of 2013, although the difference between the two is only £1.45. In general, PC games are cheaper than their console counter-parts. Small indie titles are popular on download services such as Steam, while cheaper puzzle titles and The Sims expansion packs are popular at physical retail.
As the below chart indicates, PC game sales (digital and boxed) are less reliant on Q4 compared with boxed sales of console games as seen in the graphs.
In general, digital game sales are not so seasonal, with events such as the Steam sale in the summer causing an increase in sales (Microsoft says the same trend is true on Xbox Live, with summer sales boosted by its Summer of Arcade promotion)
Boxed games are better gifts than digital products, however, digital game sales do pick up on Christmas day and during January, as shoppers spend vouchers or buy games for their new hardware.
Source data: Ipsos MediaCT gathers digital sales data for PC full and expansion (including DLC) games direct from publishers, developers and digital retailers. UKIE/GfK Chart Track supply boxed PC games data.
For more information contact Nicholas.firstname.lastname@example.org / email@example.com