The all-digital future has been here on PC for a number of years, and for better or worse, the rest of the industry is catching up. In 2020, 91% of the industry’s $174.9 billion USD revenue was made through digital sales, up from 79% in 2019.
The industry made $158 billion through digital spending across PC, console, and mobile titles, according to data collected from Newzoo for GamesIndustry.biz. $128.6 billion of that figure comes from in-game spending alone, so that puts full game digital sales at $29.4 billion. That’s just about double the $14.9 billion that physical games brought in for 2020.
Those figures are up from a total $148.8 billion for 2019. That year, PC and console revenue totalled $77.1 billion, $61 billion of which was digital. Mobile games are still the biggest slice of the industry’s pie, representing 46% of revenue in 2019, and 49% in 2020. (PC gaming made up 22% of revenue for 2020, and console gaming made up 29%.) Mobile is obviously all-digital, and a big part of why the figures disproportionately favour digital spending.
In the console market alone – where digital versus physical is still an actual consideration – 28% of revenue came from boxed retail sales. That’s far from a death knell for retail games, but the long period of nervous sweating for physical collectors collectors continues into 2021.
The best PC games have, in fairness, remained in our Steam libraries for the duration of the platform’s run.