NPD Group has revealed that almost one third of US gamers would rather buy their games digitally than in a shop.
The firm surveyed 8,500 consumers as part of its Online Gaming 2012 report. It asked if a game was available to buy physical and digital at the same time at the same price, what would they buy? 65 per cent said physical, while a surprisingly high 35 per cent picked digital.
Practically all PC games are released digitally and physically at the same time, but that trend is now starting to come to the console space. It is a requirement that all publishers release Vita games digitally and physically at the same time, while Nintendo says it will now be offering that option - beginning with next month's New Super Mario Bros 2.
Xbox 360 currently gives a three to six month gap between the physical launch and its digital counterpart.
The survey also revealed that 40 per cent of those surveyed obtained at least one game in both the physical and digital formats over the past 12 months.
“Gamers are growing more comfortable in acquiring content online, as we saw the preference for digital increase ten percentage points from last year,” said NPD analyst Liam Callahan.
“The proliferation of free games on mobile devices has reduced the barrier of entry for online gaming to zero, fueling an increase in acquisition.”
The report also revealed that there's been an increase in entertainment use on consoles and portable devices, with a slight increase in users who say entertainment apps cause them to spend less time gaming.
More than one-in-five online gamer state that other members of their house are using their machines for other entertainment activities outside of gaming.
“Every year at E3, we hear about new non-gaming features being added to major console and portable device manufacturers’ online services,” added Callahan.
“It is reasonable to expect changes in the share of time and spend as consumers become aware and increasingly comfortable with the number of features, including gaming, available through their multifunctional devices.”