Analyst: Digital gaming a growing trend in Canada

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Though gamers still prefer buying physical copies over digital downloads, a rising interest in the former has given flexible publishers a new avenue to explore. In Canada, that avenue is expanding.

A new report by marketing research firm The NPD Group suggests Canadian gamers are more than willing to spend on downloadable video games – even if they’re free.

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Analyst: Digital gaming a growing trend in Canada

The six-month long study of just over 4,000 people found that nearly $84 million was spent on downloadable gaming in Canada. While the NPD believes this proves a “shift” in attitude among console gamers, it’s quick to point out that 88% of that group still prefer their games the old-fashioned way. The report also turned up that 65% of the titles purchased during the study were physical copies, while the remaining were comprised of free downloads.

When it came to uncovering the reasoning behind the numbers, 58% told the NPD that they preferred owning an actual copy of a game because “they just like having” it.

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“Game downloading is clearly rising in popularity as free game downloads are becoming more accessible and the need among gamers to have physical packaging for each of their games is beginning to decline,” said Matthew Tattle, an NPD spokesperson. “Gamers are becoming a lot more calculating when it comes to their purchase methods and sources. There is a clear move toward purchasing games through channels that are more convenient, affordable and offer instant gratification.”

Tattle doesn’t mention outlying factors that impact game downloading, specifically among console owners. A disparity in how much default memory is available means console gamers buying digital will likely press pause before downloading, asking themselves “do I have enough space to buy this?”

There are numerous different Xbox 360 and PS3 models, all offering different hard drive space. Of course, gamers with the higher-end versions don’t have the same space issues as those with smaller hard drives.

Cost is also a barrier for the success of digital downloads on consoles. If a downloadable product is the same price as its physical counterpart, what’s the benefit of buying it digitally?

A previous NPD study found that download-only mobile gaming was thriving, but noted that 75% of respondents said they would choose a physical copy of a title over a digital one barring any substantial price or feature discrepancies between the two.

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