But there’s even more to it than that. First of all, NPD only tracks retail sales, and only in the U.S.. Yes, the U.S. has the strongest retail games market, but PC games are very popular worldwide. Especially in Europe, and Germany in particular, PC game sales top sales charts. Most importantly, the PC is well ahead of consoles in online game sales—which NPD does not track. Whether it’s GameTap, Steam, Direct2Drive, TotalGaming.net, or even the direct download store at the EBgames site, buying games exclusively online is huge on PCs. And that doesn’t even include things like recurring payments or digital item sales for online games like World of Warcraft. Research firm Strategy Analytics said that the global online games market generated over $3.8 billion in revenue in 2006, and is growing at over 25% per year. Yes, some of that is buying downloadable content on Xbox Live Arcade, Playstation Network, or Wii Virtual Console, but the money pulled in by those are a drop in the bucket, globally, to the online revenue generated by PC game sales.
Unfortunately, nobody is yet providing the kind of apples-to-apples data that lets us get a true picture of PC game sales. Take that “over $970 million” sales of PC games from NPD. That’s just retail and just the U.S. Nobody is tracking online game sales for just the U.S. in a reasonably comprehensive way. Or if they are, they’re not proving data, breaking it down by platform and by game sales & addons vs. recurring subscription fees. I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that several hundred million dollars worth of games & addons have happened online in the U.S.
All of a sudden, PC game sales don’t look too shoddy. And they’re especially attractive when you consider that third-party publishers don’t have to fork over $7-10 per sale in royalties to a console developer.
The best thing about this piece is that is written by someone that has even more consoles than me at home, and likes to play them all.
Spotted at Voodoo Extreme.