Bad news and good news for the video game industry: according to a recent console, handheld, and PC gaming report from Futuresource Consulting, the packaged games market will start to suffer a slow decline through 2015, but online and mobile gaming will experience a major uptick during the same period, offsetting the decline of packaged games.
On the whole, the video games industry’s growth through 2015 will bring its total retail value to $15.7 billion. But the success of online gaming — the retail value of which is expected to hit $6 billion in 2015 (in the US), up from $3 billion in 2011 — has hurt the packaged games sector, which is expected to decline by 15% in the US in 2012 alone.
The popularity of smartphones and tablets have helped trigger the growth of mobile gaming, while online platforms like Steam, as well as browser-based and social network games (which are often free-to-play, but allow the player to spend money on “microtransactions”) have helped drive growth in the PC/online sector.
There is some hope for the traditional, packaged games market, which is the next generation of consoles from Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo. These new platforms, expected to be released between late 2012 and late 2013, will help both console manufacturers and publishers to an extent, but a slow decline will still follow as a result of many users not replacing their existing devices. Instead, they will simply rely on non-dedicated gaming products and digital delivery for their gaming needs.
In the near future, AAA titles may be the saving grace of packaged gaming revenues, but the Futuresource Consulting report maintains that beyond 2015, digital downloads of full games will dominate the packaged games market as shelf space at brick-and-mortar stores is reduced.