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In brief: Remember when you were a kid and yearned for the latest boxed game for Christmas? While almost three-quarters of children in the US today want a video game-related product this holiday season, only 22% want physical games. In a sign of the times, subscriptions were the most popular gift idea, while in-game currency was more in demand than physical titles.
An Entertainment Software Association report backs up similar surveys indicating that physical game sales are dying. While 72% of 10- to 17-year-olds in the US want something video game-related this Christmas (86% boys, 59% girls), the thing they most desire is a game subscription: Thirty-nine percent asked for the likes of Xbox/PC Game Pass and PlayStation Plus subs. This category likely includes premium subscriptions for certain games, too, such as Roblox and Fortnite.
The next two most popular gifts were consoles (39%), which are a lot easier to get hold of these days, and game accessories (32%).
The next item on the list is in-game currency (29%). It might feel strange to see this sitting above physical games, but the massive popularity of Roblox and Fortnite among younger gamers explains why so many are after Robux and V-Bucks, the respective virtual currencies.
In addition to the 501 kids, the survey questioned over 500 adults. Of the 57% of parents considering buying video game-related presents for their children, the average amount they said they're planning on spending is $485, a price likely inflated by those purchasing consoles. Furthermore, one in three adults said they plan to buy video games for themselves or others, a figure higher than other gift ideas such as money and gift cards (70%) or tech such as smartphones and smartwatches (62%). The least popular item was books at 26%.
The survey only has a small sample size, but physical games have been dying out in favor of digital alternatives for years. We all know it happened a long time ago on the PC, and consoles are starting to go this way with the release of Digital Editions of the machines that lack disc drives.
It's not just the game industry that's becoming fully digital; shopping in general is going the same way. In-store purchases this Black Friday were up just 1% year-over-year, while online sales increased 8.5% compared to last year.