Bottom line: Those of a certain age may remember a time when buying a PC game involved visiting the local store to purchase a boxed product. With the advent of Steam, physical games have become the overwhelming minority on the platform—even the inclusion of optical drives on PCs is a rarity these days. For the majority of console gamers, however, discs are still preferred over the digital alternative.
The news comes from the latest edition of Nielsen’s annual US Games 360 Report, which reveals that 66 percent of surveyed console players would rather buy the physical version of a game. For PC gamers, 71 percent opt for digital downloads, meaning 29 percent tend not to bother with discs.
The survey involved interviewing 2000 teens and adults over 13 years old. It was split between males and female and designed to cover a fair representation of the US population.
Console owners’ preference for physical games has been attributed to several factors, including varying internet speeds in the US and download caps. As the size of most AAA titles continues to increase, those with slow connections find it’s quicker and easier to install from a disc. But the main reason is likely to be the used-game market. With retailers offering store credit or cash for used titles, as well as discounts on second-hand game sales, it’s easy to see why more console owners shun digital downloads.
Another statistic revealed by the survey is that 66 percent of the US population now consider themselves “gamers,” up from 58 percent in 2013. When it comes to the most recognizable consoles, the PlayStation 4 finished top. 70 percent of gamers, non-gamers, and the general population were aware of Sony’s machine, while the Xbox One had a 57 percent average awareness rating for the three groups.