PC games sales took a hit

By Derek Sooman on January 19, 2006, 4:27 PM
PC games sales took a hit last year, according to figures from the NPD group.

According to an IGN article, 2004 saw around $1.1 billion in PC game sales, whereas 2005 closed with a comparatively meagre $954 million. That's about a 14% drop.
These figures refer to sales of PC games sold on CD-ROM, and donít include MMORPG subscriptions, or direct downloads of games. There does, though, appear to be declining box sales at retailers.




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nathanskywalker said:
Well part of that could have to do with piracy, but considering that security measures have been increasing that probably only accounts for a small amount of loss. Of course, with better technology and "file-sharing" programs pirating also becomes easier, so really, with programs like bittorrent and limewire being used illegally...Of course companies really do charge too much for new video games...However, on the other hand, they really need to take into account games bought on the internet, while of course, pirating is still happening over the internet, broadband is also a convienent way for people to buy video games.
l33t_tek said:
^Not all games have great security like Counter-Strike and Half-Life 2. Yes indeed, piracy is definately to blame for the decline in sales. I wonder how many games they sold in DVD-ROM though? I hate buying games in CD-ROM - way too many CD's used just to install the game.An incentive for people to stop downloading games would be "giveaways" if you buy certain games.But what really makes me want to buy a game is so that I can play it online. If you buy the game, you get a legit CD key whilst if you download it, you can only play it offline. However, I'm sure that those who download the game end up buying a CD Key on the net...I wonder if those sales are recorded in the gaming industry?
Need_a_Dell said:
This is a sad statistic to read, but it is a reality in today's society full of digital pirates. Not only has pircay contributed to the decline in pc gfame sales, but the fact that this study only looks at cd-rom games, is also a contributor. Game are always growing in complexity, which in turn, means more space needed on your HD. DVD-rom games have become much more popular recently due to game size, and the availability of dvd-rom drives. Perhaps pc game production houses should take a page from the music industry's book and slash down the prices of pc games. Dropping $69.99 on a new game is quite a comittment to make for a few hours of fun. Perhaps new releases in the $30-$40 price range will turn angry pirates into loving and paying customers.
nathanskywalker said:
[b]Originally posted by l33t_tek:[/b][quote]^Not all games have great security like Counter-Strike and Half-Life 2. Yes indeed, piracy is definately to blame for the decline in sales. I wonder how many games they sold in DVD-ROM though? I hate buying games in CD-ROM - way too many CD's used just to install the game.An incentive for people to stop downloading games would be "giveaways" if you buy certain games.But what really makes me want to buy a game is so that I can play it online. If you buy the game, you get a legit CD key whilst if you download it, you can only play it offline. However, I'm sure that those who download the game end up buying a CD Key on the net...I wonder if those sales are recorded in the gaming industry?[/quote]Ok good point. Just saying that most, of the more expensive gamse like: half-life two, counte-strike, and guild wars would be exceptionally dificult to pirate.
donnagual said:
It looks to me like they need to really update the way they are measuring their figures if they are not including the online sales. How much money did steam bring in for example? Or companies like Direct2Drive? I know I purchased at least 5 games between those two online vendors alone.And I think this trend will continue to increase. Online downloads are the future. Measuring sales of CDs will continue to decrease over the years, and more and more dramatically as time goes on.
Eleventeen said:
Pretty much all of the games I buy I download from sites like D2D. It's very handy, I don't have to go to a store or a mall or anything like that, I'd just download it. If they happen to not have the game I want, then I resort to eBay to buy it cheap. This could be the reason why those sales are decreasing, also with the help of piracy. I do know though, that alot of the people I talk to online now download their games from those types of sites.
MonkeyMan said:
This is very surprising. Games look better, and better, every year, and 2005 had some very big PC game titles. I'm sure with the PC game lineup for 2006, it will point these sales in a higher direction, but that remains to be seen. Produce better, and more in depth games, and the sales will skyrocket!!!!!! wow I'm getting frustrated now lol.
Race said:
I may be wrong, but it seems that there might not have been as many cool and/or successful PC games released in '05' as there were in '04'.With Half-Life 2 and World of Warcraft having the all-time most successful PC game launches and sales ever, how do you follow that?It might not account for the entire 14% drop in sales, but it may have been a factor. Top Releases in 2004: Half-Life 2, World Of Warcraft, Far Cry, Unreal Tournament 2004, Rome - Total War, Chronicles Of Riddick, Painkiller, City Of HeroesTop Releases of 2005:Fear, Call of Duty 2, Quake 4, Age of Empires 3, City Of Villians, Serious Sam 2, Dragonshard, Star Wars Battlefront 2[Edited by Race on 2006-01-19 20:10:36]
paulwuzhere said:
Thats horrible! If PC games take hits then prices start to crawl up and less game will come out. I love PC gaming and I don't really care for Console gaming (Besides my Super Nintendo) So, plz. Spend an extra $30 and buy a game. Please?
gamingmage said:
More people want convience not the originality and feeling of getting a game in a box, installing it and booting it up for the first time the regular way. I love going down to Gamestop or somewhere and picking up a game such as counter strike or half-life 2. This sale drop may well be the fall of the retail box sales, and I sure don't want that to happen so please "save a download and buy a box".
9Nails said:
F.E.A.R. was the only semi fresh game from 2005 that I bought. Which isn't all that unique in the copy-cat world of PC games. It had stunning graphics, incredible AI, and a really freaky story, but it wasn't ground breaking in player execution. So it had bullet time, and good weapons, but haven't we've seen that before. I'm a little tired of being the last person who survived a holocaust/lab accident/alien invasion and now it's up to me to save the country/world/solar system. Everything put out last year felt like regurgitation of titles that I've already played in one form or another. And even if I drop my cash to pick up a sequel of something I liked 3 years ago, I'm treated like a criminal on the first and every instance I launch the title. "You must insert the disc to play this game." Oh My God! Where in the World is the No-CD crack for this POS??? I just want to play and have fun. The people who stole the game find it easier to launch than me, the person who bought it and registered a good CD-Key. Why did I even bother typing all those letters and numbers if I still have to insert a disc? Yeah, when gamers are treated like that for each and every game they buy, I could see why we get frustrated and buy fewer titles.
exscind said:
It is unfortunate pirating games are so easy and simple these days. With tools to take CD images it is easy to override most anti-piracy protections. I think there are a few reasons why PC games sales suffered this year:1) Piracy. This is the obvious as mentioned by several others. Hackers and pirated copies of software games are all too common these days.2) MMORPG. The article touched on this briefly. But popular games like World of Warcraft, Everquest, Dark Age of Camelot, and Guild Wars deter gamers to buy other games. MMORPG take a lot of time and effort to build up, which means gamers may not have time to buy and play multiple games. Another factor is the monthly fees that many MMORPG require. Each monthly fee is almost as much as buying a full-pledged game itself.3) Bundle packs. Bundle/combo offers often toss away games. A known example is eVGA offering free games when consumers buy a video card from them (the offer now is a free copy of Quake 4). Why buy a new game when you're getting a free one right? Many companies are doing this as it attracts customers to buy their products.A combination of the aforementioned factors resulted in the decrease in sales of PC games. Some can be attributed to the "bad guys" like hacking softwares or CD images of the games. But factors like bundle packs where the idea that people want free stuff cannot be avoided. PC games are viewed as a common free accessory item, a commodity if you will, when buying a certain product. So it is no surprise PC games sales took a hit.
otmakus said:
It really isn't fair to not include MMORPG sales. I know a lot of hardcore gamers who usually played a few games a month, and then, after finding themselves in Azeroth or Kalimdor, never have the time to buy/play another game for half a year after that. Online games is the future, FEAR, HL2, Quake 4 is great, but it would be even greater if we can play it online, with/against other people. The feeling of blowing someone's head off can't be matched by blowing off a computer character's head.
mav451 said:
I don't think this is that significant. I mean, even though I'm a PC gamer, I'm also a console gamer...and its not like there have been that many TRULY good titles this year. Minus maybe Quake4 (played it at a friend's place), nothing caught my eye this year. And the mmorpg does constitute too much to miss out, I agree. There are a ton of casual players who love Blizzard games...and with that brand and fanbase, they've drawn in quite a mainstream market. The subscription fee sure helps in monthly cashflow (x million of players) I can imagine, haha.
cyrax said:
I would have put piracy as a possible reason, but after seeing the article about the increasing prices of amd processors, i beginning to think that this is cutting into the pockets of consumers. Coupled with the video card prices, no wonder sales declining.
otmakus said:
And those game consoles are a serious competitor too, they need less maintenance, have a gazillion of games, compared to just a few good games per year for PC, and cheaper too, we can buy Xbox 360 and PS3 for the price of a high end video card. Sony also predicts PS3's lifetime to be 5 years, but I'm sure even the most highend computer nowadays will be as slow as a turtle 5 years later.
mastronaut said:
I think most PC gamers will opt to buy a new game on e-bay after the initial buzz of the new release dies down a bit.Some people will play in 'GOD' mode and finish a new title in a couple of hours and turn around and sell it cheaper online.
asphix said:
I think the x360 had a lot to do with this. Why spend money on PC games when you can get graphics just as good on a console with online! I know it isnt the same as a PC.. but I personally didnt buy any games leading up to the x360 launch because of that.Also, as others have said.. this year saw nothing huge in game releases. In 2004 there was the initial release of WoW. There was also Doom 3, Halflife 2.. a lot of really strong titles with huge followings. In 2005 we didnt have so many blockbuster level releases.
mentaljedi said:
I think that everyone hasn't got the capabilities to play some of these games and are waiting for Vista to be released. 2006 will be all comsoles and not much in the way of PCs i am afraid and i think everyone has that gut ffeeling that i'm right here.
DragonMaster said:
Well maybe the graphics are better in '05 games but IMO they are less interesting.
Mictlantecuhtli said:
[b]Originally posted by 9Nails:[/b][quote]And even if I drop my cash to pick up a sequel of something I liked 3 years ago, I'm treated like a criminal on the first and every instance I launch the title. "You must insert the disc to play this game." Oh My God! Where in the World is the No-CD crack for this POS??? I just want to play and have fun. The people who stole the game find it easier to launch than me, the person who bought it and registered a good CD-Key. Why did I even bother typing all those letters and numbers if I still have to insert a disc?[/quote]Is it that hard to insert a CD into the drive?[b]Originally posted by exscind:[/b][quote]2) MMORPG. The article touched on this briefly. But popular games like World of Warcraft, Everquest, Dark Age of Camelot, and Guild Wars deter gamers to buy other games. MMORPG take a lot of time and effort to build up, which means gamers may not have time to buy and play multiple games. Another factor is the monthly fees that many MMORPG require. Each monthly fee is almost as much as buying a full-pledged game itself.[/quote]Agreed. I bought Guild Wars about seven months ago, didn't play much then, but began playing more about a week ago. I haven't had much time for other games. It's also one of the few MMORPGs that doesn't have a monthly fee.[quote]Bundle/combo offers often toss away games. A known example is eVGA offering free games when consumers buy a video card from them (the offer now is a free copy of Quake 4). Why buy a new game when you're getting a free one right? Many companies are doing this as it attracts customers to buy their products.[/quote]So they don't count as a sold game? I don't know which is more common, to buy graphics cards as "bulk" versions or as these bundles / retail packages.[b]Originally posted by DragonMaster:[/b][quote]Well maybe the graphics are better in '05 games but IMO they are less interesting. [/quote]Less interesting than what? Are you one of those who actually care about the gameplay or story? :P
Vaulden said:
I honestly have a hard time believing piracy is a huge factor. I'm not saying it isn't going on, I'm just not sure it's any more prevalent this past year than it was the two or three years before it. If they are only looking at CDs as someone else pointed out, 2 of the 4 games I purchased last year were on DVDs. Direct2Drive and other such methods of purchasing games are obviously going to lower the numbers. I'm sure you could attribute 1/2 or more of that loss simply to this method. I have no concrete numbers, but on forums I'm seeing more and more people stating they bought the game through D2D. As I mentioned before I only bought 4 (maybe 5) games last year (and 2 of those were bargain bin games). Where as off the top of my head I can think of 10 games I bought in 2004. I have kids so most of the games I buy are for them. My kids and I just weren't as excited about games that came out last year. They actually asked for more console games than PC games last year. And I'm one of those that prefer gameplay and story to graphics. One of my favorite games is still Tribes 2 and its graphics suck compared to today's games. ;)
vigilante said:
I've purchased on Steam, but that's it.As someone else mentioned, there is a good feeling you get, buying a boxed game in a store, opening it up, having all your manuals and disks. And booting it up for the first time. Rather then an Internet download where you get nothing but a file and a "readme". I would pay the extra to get some REAL stuff like CDs or DVDs and manuals and a box.To solve the "insert CD" problem, don't go after cracks and such, instead, invest in a program like Alcohol 52% or 120% I think it is. Emulation software is easy to use, and very handy.As for MMORPG, I won't pay a monthly fee to game. To me, those games really DON'T change to much, and it get's boring. I like a game that you just play start to finish and you win, it's over. Then add variations to change up game play for replay value. Such as mods, etc...The other problem that I've seen, is that today's games just require to much hardware. And the proliferation of cheapo PCs from Dell and HP. Congratulations, you just got a brand new POC from Dell for Christmans, went out and bought HL2. Oh but wait, your onboard graphics suck, you get no AGP port to upgrades, and you don't have enough RAM. Woops, you can't even PLAY the game.Not to mention for those who CAN upgrade, the cost of RAM, and especially the fancy video cards, is just to much money for a lot of people. For the $400 to upgrade a PC, you could just as well get an X360.It will be nice when someday it won't be our hardware trying to catch up to games, but the other way around. When the next breakthrough technologies leap us way ahead in system power.
jassim said:
I agree that piracy can be a factor in such a decrease in sales. But there can be other factors as well.I live in Kuwait and looking at most of the games available here, I have to say, most of them are on DVD. That disappoints me, 'cause I don't own a DVD-Drive!Secondly, as someone said, CDs are really a mess when it comes to changing CDs every now and then only for the next level. Thirdly (and finally), console games have become more and more popular. No more changing CDs, no install, and where's the wait to just start the game?And there are MANY exclusive games only to consoles. I liked playing Halo on my PC than on my Xbox and later realized that Halo 2 isn't on PC. I was a bit disappointed and realized atleast its on Xbox! And then came GT4. Awesome graphics, great gameplay and what-not did I read in reviews. Sadly, I don't own a PS2 and couldn't try out the game.And, oh yeah, before I forget, just like vigilante above said, why waste $400 on CONSTANT new upgrades than invest in a once-until-the-next-console oppurtunity???
DragonMaster said:
[quote]Less interesting than what? Are you one of those who actually care about the gameplay or story? :P[/quote]I don't play games. I'm talking about the previews, reviews, etc. Or if I play a video game, it has to be on NES, SNES or Genesis. The only PC game I really played at was Diablo II but nothing else.Maybe it could be advertising too -- I know a few titles from 2004 but only one from 2005. (Talking about the ones here) :[quote]Top Releases in 2004:Half-Life 2, World Of Warcraft, Far Cry, Unreal Tournament 2004, Rome - Total War, Chronicles Of Riddick, Painkiller, City Of HeroesTop Releases of 2005:Fear, Call of Duty 2, Quake 4, Age of Empires 3, City Of Villians, Serious Sam 2, Dragonshard, Star Wars Battlefront 2[/quote]
4enzikk said:
I won't be surprised if those yearly sells drops again next year. As the games get more graphically rich, less and less will be pressed on CDs, therefore leading to games being sold more on DVDs.
4enzikk said:
I won't be surprised if those yearly sells drops again next year. As the games get more graphically rich, less and less will be pressed on CDs, therefore leading to games being sold more on DVDs.
9Nails said:
[b]Originally posted by Mictlantecuhtli:[/b][quote][b]Originally posted by 9Nails:[/b][quote]And even if I drop my cash to pick up a sequel of something I liked 3 years ago, I'm treated like a criminal on the first and every instance I launch the title. "You must insert the disc to play this game." Oh My God! Where in the World is the No-CD crack for this POS??? I just want to play and have fun. The people who stole the game find it easier to launch than me, the person who bought it and registered a good CD-Key. Why did I even bother typing all those letters and numbers if I still have to insert a disc?[/quote]Is it that hard to insert a CD into the drive?[/quote]Repeat after me; The consumer is always right.This isn't about difficulty, it's about inconvenience. It's about the publisher imposing restrictions upon the consumer. They want me to buy their product? I want them to lift their use restrictions.
9Nails said:
[b]Originally posted by vigilante:[/b][quote]I've purchased on Steam, but that's it.To solve the "insert CD" problem, don't go after cracks and such, instead, invest in a program like Alcohol 52% or 120% I think it is. Emulation software is easy to use, and very handy.[/quote]You've purchased on Steam, so you're familiar with Half-Life 2. The retail version of this game will not launch if any emulation tool such as Alcohol 52%, DaemonTools, SoftDrive, or Virtual CD are resident in memory. The new Safedisc searches these programs out and refuses to launch your game if they are detected. Fortunatly for Half-Life 2, Steam fixed this problem for those of us who purchased the retail version.
AeonXX said:
Iím not surprised that game sales dropped in stores for 2005, my number one reason being that most of the games werenít worth buying. I try and preview games or play them for myself before I buy them, and if they arenít worth the money, I donít buy them. I bought Battlefield 2 and Guild Wars last year, so in my opinion it was a really weak year for PC games. Piracy probably accounts for about half of the losses that sales are seeing, give or take a little. Itís so easy to download pirated games, and theyíre often cracked within days of their release, usually earlier.I avoid buying games on CD-ROM and opt for DVD-ROM, because itís a pain in the neck to swap half a dozen CDs just to install a game. As for 2006 being a year for console gaming, I really donít think it will pick up heavily until Christmas. When the PS3 and the Nintendo Revolution are released, PC gaming will probably be largely overshadowed. In the meantime, I donít think the Xbox 360 quite has the power to overcome its bigger brother.
sjps220 said:
I don't buy a lot of games period. It's hard to justify spending $60 on a game that I most likely haven't tried. I used to rent games but it's not easy to find a place to rent pc games, and console games now are about $10 at blockbuster in canada which is waaaay too much money. I'm not saying I pirate games. I borrow games from people and spend a lot of time with the few that I do buy. And 9nails I completely agree with you. I hate it when companies punish the people doing nothing wrong to go after those doing wrong.
badger1977 said:
Developers - Well if you ask me itís down to the developers; most of them just canít be bothered to create games on a platform with such a wide scope of hardware when they can just bolt-together a game for use on a standardised architecture.Piracy - Piracy, in my opinion, just accounts for a small percentage in the sales drop as people such as myself like to own the box and display it on the shelf, almost like a memento or achievement. Always the same - I like PC games and I like console games (I own a Wii) and people who say there are no good games out for the PC; just the same old tired storyline; last man/woman alive saving this that and the other to bla bla blaÖ well console games are exactly the same; same old, same old.What needs to be done Ė The PC gaming market needs to be stabilised with respect to the hardware scope. Their needs to be some sort of standardisation forced over the entire market then all you need to do is pick your preferred brand. Gamers donít want to constantly have to switch C/DVDs so install the game then box the disk or run the game from the disk Ė PICK ONE! Focus on piracy but donít let it dominate the market. Final thought - Just to make one final point, console games can also be pirated / emulated, etc so donít just pick on us PC gamers!
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