London Games Conference: Digital Data

Everyone knows that digital distribution is an important part of the games industry food chain. But just how important is it to consumers? New data from the National Gamers Survey 2009 proves the power of downloaded games, mobile games and games accessed via game portals.

The survey, conducted by TNS, quizzed gamers from the US and Europe and investigated a raft of gaming habits including downloading of games. According to the results, 25 per cent of all console users in the UK have downloaded and paid for complete games or extra levels via their console.

Seven per cent state that, when acquiring new games, they usually buy the game directly via their console.

That number doubles to 14 per cent when it comes to PC games. It’s clear that gamers who play on their home computers and laptops are accustomed to buying and downloading directly online.

In the US, that jumps even higher – figures from American respondents to the same questions shows 16 per cent of gamers have downloaded games for their console and and 23 per cent have downloaded PC content. Read on for more data from the survey:


55 per cent of the UK population plays games on consoles and 35 per cent state they play PC games. 27 per cent of UK console players state they download levels or complete games via their console, almost all have experienced paying for this.

For Xbox 360 and PS3 the figures go up dramatically: 51 per cent and 55 per cent respectively; 25 per cent for Nintendo Wii. When buying complete new games, seven per cent of all console players states they usually do so directly via the console. 14 per cent of PC gamers pay and download games directly. As can be expected, percentages are even higher in the younger age groups.


19 per cent of the UK population plays games on their mobile phone. 44 per cent actually downloads new games and pays directly via their handset. The enormous reach of casual game portals – used by 32 per cent of the total UK population – is due to the fact most games are free, but 20 per cent of UK game portal players state they spend money on the portal. In the US this is even higher, at 33 per cent. Paid subscriptions are the most popular in both countries but already six per cent of all UK and US game portal players frequently buy premium games online.


Online distribution is not only a factor in purchasing games. Almost 25 per cent of UK console game players state that the availability of a downloadable trial version or demo is a crucial factor in their buying decision. This is close to the 30 per cent for PC gamers that traditionally have online access. 45 per cent of PS3 users downloads or accesses video content via their console. This is 41 per cent for Xbox 360 and a mere 22 per cent for Nintendo Wii.

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