Console Gamers Still Love Physical Games

A lot more companies are adopting digital game distribution on their platforms, including Microsoft with its Xbox consoles, Sony with the PlayStation systems, and Valve’s Steam service. However, that’s not to say that some gamers still don’t prefer the “old-school” method of physical games.

A poll posted by eMarketer, conducted by MarketCast, indicates that half of video gamers in the U.S. who own an Internet-connected console have purchased a game via digital download in the previous year. That said, though, 53 percent of those polled still prefer the physical copy of games in comparison to digital. By comparison, only 22 percent indicated that they prefer the digital approach.

The numbers also show that, in the past year, digital distribution of gamers made up only 18 percent of total console game purchases, compared to 82 percent of physical copies bought.

That’s not to say that these trends will stay that way, however. People are starting to lean more towards the convenient digital download method, with 76 percent of those polled indicating that the method was the future of game buying, even if some didn’t prefer that method (due to the lack of holding a game physically in their hands).

48 percent of those polled expected to personally download more games via digital over the next two years as well, which could show an upswing in favor of online services.

With such subscription plans as EA Access and PlayStation Now in place (see our previous story today), it appears that gamers are starting to get hooked on the idea of a Netflix-style service as well. 40 percent of those polled said they would be interested in some form of streaming subscription service, while 37 percent prefer a service that allows the ability to subscribe to specific downloads per month, so they can choose from a virtual library. (This is where something along the lines of Sony’s service would definitely come into play.)

That said, while online purchases and services are surging, the online console gamer audience continues to be rather small. eMarketer estimates 49.1 million U.S. online console gamers in 2015, which makes up less than one-fifth of Internet users in general and just over 15.3 percent of the general population. This number will grow over the next few years, but only in a minor sense, to 55.2 million in 2018 – which still just goes over one-fifth of the overall Internet audience. By comparison, mobile gaming will see a bigger increase, going up from 133.9 million to 170.7 million over the next three years for smartphones, and 115.8 million to 136.6 million for tablets.

Phablet Activations Conquered Christmas


Looks like phablets were a popular gift item over the holidays! Thirteen percent of smart devices activated over the past week were the tablet’s smaller sibling, finally superceding tablet activations, which held at 11 percent according to eMarketer.

Apple remained the most popular brand, accounting for over 51 percent of device activations while Samsung was in 2nd place at 17.7 percent. The iPhone 6 Plus was largely behind this device type taking over.

Medium-sized phones continue to reign supreme, however, retaining most of its share of activations, going down only 1 percent from last year at this time.

Digital Music Sales Drop As Consumers Shift To Streaming

As one thing rises, another falls. According to a new report from Nielsen, streaming had a big year in 2014 and the music industry is feeling it in the decline in sales. Total streams rose from 106 billion to 164 billion, and why not With streaming apps like Pandora and Spotify that take up comparatively little space on devices while giving consumers the access to music they want when they want it, it’s no surprise.

“Digital music consumption continues its robust growth, with On-Demand streaming up 54 percent over last year and 164 billion song streams being played in 2014,” said David Bakula, SVP Industry Insights, Nielsen Entertainment.

While digital music consumption is more robust than ever, album sales, physical and digital, are not. Total sales have dropped down 11 percent to 257 million. That’s not the whole picture, however. The growing vinyl music industry has seen incredible growth of 52 percent, tapping into music nerd nostalgia for the retro format.

A streaming takeover is clearly the future of the entertainment industry at large, but as consumers are leaning more heavily on digital, there’s a good deal of consumers who are digging into the past. The same can be said for gaming, too.

“There is no reason why retro and digital can’t go hand-in-hand. The ever-increasing number of platforms and ways to game provide a huge opportunity for publishers and retailers to help unlock the wealth of digital content that is available,” says GAME category director Charlotte Knight.

Why The Internet Of Things Is Slow To Catch On

The Internet of Things, or, the concept that the future of networking is centered on connected products and appliances, has been met with an unexpectedly chilly reception by consumers so far.

A new case study by Nielsen subsidiary Affinnova may provide marketers with the information required to dissect why.

Affinnova’s case study, which saw consumers evaluate more than four million product concept variations and name their desired functions, states that consumers harbor a lack of understanding about the pros and cons of so-called “smart” products.

Fifty-seven percent of consumers surveyed by Affinnova agreed that the Internet of Things would be “just as revolutionary as the smartphone”, but a staggering 92 percent professed a lack of knowledge about smart objects’ benefits other than to say they’d “know it when they see it.”

Privacy is another major concern for would-be Internet of Things adoptees. Affinnova says consumers are worried about the security of personal data collected by web-enabled smart objects; 41 percent surveyed worry those smart objects could go so far as to take certain actions they didn’t agree to, possibly compromising their safety or security as a result.

One silver lining for smart object marketers and proponents: Affinnova’s case study found that consumers see the Internet of Things as an inevitability, regardless of their concerns. Fifty-eight percent surveyed said “people will wonder how we ever lived without [smart objects]” in just two decades’ time.

Inevitably or otherwise, it would be wise for manufacturers and marketers to work to address concerns with smart objects now to prevent a massive backlash down the road.

“As the Internet of Things continues to find its place in the mainstream consumer market,” a second study by consulting firm Aquity concluded, “brands need to vet their ideas carefully amongst consumers and explore a broad range of options.”


CES 2015: This Console Brings Android Gaming To The Living Room

We’ve all been made aware of mobile’s gaming takeover these past few years. Younger consumers are flocking to Android and iOS devices as core-friendly gaming experiences move into handheld’s domain.

If one startup has its way, however, console gaming just might find an unlikely friend in Android.

China-based Snail is preparing for the release of their OBox, an Nvidia K1-powered “modular computer” essentially designed to run Android games on home television sets. The device, targeted towards lower-income gamers in China and the United States, is unique in its ability to render existing games into 3D without any porting work required from the original developer. Though Snail is mum on the exact schematics of this functionality, a TechCrunch writer testing it out at CES described it as “a bit choppy, but more than functional.”

Snail’s OBox, demonstrated at CES. (photo credit: TechCrunch)

Snail plans on differentiating themselves from traditional console manufacturers by offering their OBox in multiple hardware configurations, allowing for levels of customization unprecedented in the field. Snail isn’t revealing exact prices for different setups, but it could be expected that some will cost more than others.

Snail, themselves a game developer with a wide reach in their native China and abroad, plans to reach into their extensive library of Android games to provide the OBox with first-party support. The OBox’s library is obviously contingent on whether or not Android remains a go-to platform for mobile gaming, though the numbers so far are highly encouraging.

Snail’s bid to bring console and mobile gaming together, regardless of how well it succeeds, is an ambitious move. Consumers enjoy their Android games on the small screen; it remains to be seen whether they’ll feel the same way when those same games appear on a television, though Snail thinks they will.