A new report has seemingly confirmed a long-running assumption of the industry – boxed games are on the way out.
The latest GamePulse report from research outlet EEDAR estimates that the number of physical titles released for Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo’s machines has more than halved over the last six years, plummeting from 383 in 2008 to just 145 last year.
Simulatenously, the number of digital-only games (EEDAR defines ‘digital-only’ as not receiving an accompanying boxed release within 90 days) has almost tripled during the same time span.
In 2008, 102 exclusively digital titles hit the PlayStation Store, Xbox Live Marketplace and Nintendo eShop. By 2014, the number of digital titles launched on the three platforms reached 279.
This wasn’t solely the result of the same publishers releasing more digital titles – EEDAR states that last year saw the greatest diversity in the digital publishing space yet, with more than 146 different publishers launching at least one digital-only game.
The number of digital-only games released per publisher has fallen by an average of one from 2008 to 2014, versus a slight average growth in the number of traditional (boxed and digital) games brought to market each year over the same period.
Overall, physical-only titles accounted for just three per cent of the games market last year, in contrast to almost half (44 per cent) of the sector in 2008.
Comparatively, digital-only games have risen from comprised two fifths of the space seven years ago to two thirds in 2014.
Products launched simulatenously via both channels made up just under a third (31 per cent) of total releases.