PC gaming revenue up 3% in 2009

The PC Gaming Alliance has released its numbers for the PC gaming industry, showing revenues of $13.1 billion for 2009, a 3% increase from the year before. The number encompasses not only retail sales but also digital distribution as well as ad revenue and it appears that there has been a shift towards digital distribution and subscriptions most likely fueled by the MMO market; something we can only expect to continue with the recent announcement of Valve bringing Steam and many of its games to the Mac, opening up a whole new corner of the PC market.

“In our surveys of PC gamers in North America and Europe we found that over 70% indicate they have bought a full game online,” DFC Analyst David Cole said. “Furthermore, over 50 percent indicate that they have bought a virtual item, this is very positive because, when done successfully, companies in Asia have found the digital distribution model to be significantly more profitable than the traditional retail boxed goods business.”

While it is a positive sign that the PC gaming market as a whole increased, the trend towards virtual goods selling and purchasing is troublesome. While the model might make sense in a free-to-play scenario, how long will it be before larger studios turn to virtual goods as an added way to monetize their game?