Digital distributions biggest week?

It’s time to dispel the notion that the rise to prominence of digital distribution is still several years off – a rare set of concrete sales numbers for EA’s recently released WWII shooter Battlefield 1943 show that digital retail is already here in a very big way.

DICE’s title, which was released earlier this month on both Xbox 360 and PS3, has smashed the both the day one and week one sales records on Xbox Live – a title previously held by Rockstar’s The Lost and the Damned.

It also managed the same double act on the North American version of PSN.

We are honoured by the reception that the game has received so far,” Battlefield 1943 producer Gordon Van Dyke stated.

We can now truly say that we have set a new standard for what can be done in the downloadable games category and gamers recognize the endless value that Battlefield 1943 provides.”

However, it’s the numbers that tell the real story. Since its release on July 8th the game has been downloaded a staggering 600,000 times.

As a subject of comparison, retail’s biggest ever games release, Rockstar’s Grand Theft Auto IV, sold just over 900,000 copies in its first week of sale.

Obviously there are important differences to note. Firstly, GTA IV still sold considerably better than Battlefield 1943. And extra credit should go to Rockstar’s title as it cost between 40-50 at retail. Battlefield 1943 costs around 10 to download.

However, EA’s title received just a mere fraction of the marketing budget enjoyed by Niko Bellic. And as popular as the Battlefield franchise is, it’s still some way off enjoying the high-profile adoration of GTA.

With the next iteration of the PSP skipping boxed product altogether and Microsoft introducing a fully-fledged games-on-demand service for Xbox 360 next month, it’s becoming increasingly hard to deny that the digital revolution is already happening.

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