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Digital sales almost overtake physical sales in Europe

Digital World

Digital Game Sales Data (GSD) has indicated a trend towards digital rather than boxed AAA games purchases in Europe in 2019. The data includes a select range of AAA franchises and tallied their digital and physical sales for Q1 2019 and Q1 2018.

The IPs utilized for the analysis include: Assassin’s Creed, Far Cry, Star Wars, Batman, Battlefield, Monster Hunter, Call of Duty, Grand Theft Auto, Red Dead Redemption, FIFA, Dragon Ball, Need for Speed and Ubisoft’s range of Tom Clancy games.

The seven markets surveyed were: Benelux (Belgium, Netherlands and Luxembourg), France, Italy, GSA (Germany, Switzerland and Austria), Iberia (Spain and Portugal), Nordics (including Denmark, Norway and Sweden) and the UK and Ireland.

Q1 2019:

Country Overall Q1 Sales Digital Q1 Sales Physical Q1 Sales Digitsation
Benelux 412,825 178,785 234,040 43%
France 851,234 401,013 450,221 47%
GSA* 1,355,423 673,357 682,066 50%
Iberia 634,006 219,747 414,259 35%
Italy 494,339 163,954 330,385 33%
Nordics 372,701 247,363 125,338 66%
UK and Ireland 1,360,942 761,333 599,609 56%

Q1 2018:

Country Overall Q1 Sales Digital Q1 Sales Physical Q1 Sales Digitsation
Benelux 473,285 156,889 316.396 33%
France 1,392,256 433,216 959,040 31%
GSA* 1,754,677 711,481 1,043,196 41%
Iberia 775,450 204,307 571,143 26%
Italy 622,060 156,275 465,785 25%
Nordics 469,733 250,836 218.897 53%
UK and Ireland n/a n/a n/a n/a

*GSA – Germany, Switzerland, Austria.

All six of the markets in both 2018 and 2019 (UK and Ireland stats were only gathered for 2019) reveal a substantial trend towards digitization. In Benelux, for example, 33% of AAA game sales were digital in Q1 2018 but 43% were digital in Q1 2019. France showed even more startling growth, with a jump from 31% digital in Q1 2018 to 47% digital in Q1 2019.

In Q1 2018 Nordics was the only market to have a higher proportion of digital sales than physical sales, at 53% digital. In Q1 2019 the UK and Ireland joined it as a majority AAA digital sales region (56% digital), with the GSA region split at 50% digital, 50% physical.

In the Nordic market digital sales accounted for 66% of total AAA sales, making this particular market almost two-thirds digital.

Looked at overall, European AAA sales in Q1 2019 were still predominantly digital, but the margin is slim: 52% physical to 48% digital.

If the momentum towards digital sales continues at the rate suggested by GSD’s research it seems certain that digital will soon be the dominant medium for AAA console game sales.

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