Digital distribution has “no major effect” on retail sales

All that hand wringing over whether or not digital distribution would replace retail outlets at the top of the game buying food chain seems to have been for naught, as the sales of virtual videogames has yet to impact brick and mortar retailers.

Interviewing several specialist retailers, Edge Online reports that though downloadable content is on the rise, the market just isn’t ready for a digital-only videogame console. “DLC for ‘established’ consoles has increased and, in most cases, adds value to existing titles. However, this is in regard to additional content rather than what you would term ‘games on demand’, which gamers perceive as being overpriced compared to physical media and which cannot be traded in or sold once finished with,” shared Shopto owner Igor Cipolletta.

“It’s going to be a slow transition. In terms of console-specific digital games, there’s been something of a retreat from the retail-equivalent downloads, and now most console download titles are made up of expansion packs and arcade download games,” said Piers Harding-Rolls, head of games at media analyst Screen Digest. “Spend on those types of products is increasingly strong, but it’s important to note that it’s nowhere near retail levels, with something like a single-digit percentage slice of the market.”

“Certainly throughout 2009, digital distribution hasn’t had much impact on the sales of digital media.”