Digital Distribution Sales Up as Valve Reports 97% Steam Growth

While the economic malaise continues to soften corporate earnings results and retail sales charts, digital distribution outlets are reporting comparative gains in online sales.

Valve now says that year-over-year Steam sales have risen a significant 97%, while competitor Direct2Drive has logged a 56% boost, according to IGN. nope In the console sector, Xbox Live saw a 73% year-over-year increase in paid downloads, with the wildly popular Battlefield 1943--a game which sold over 600,000 copies online in its first week--providing an example of the potential for digitally distributed games.

However, it's not quite yet to declare a digital revolution, as analyst Michael Pachter notes that downloads still account for only about 5% of overall sales, and are likely not a major contributing factor to the current retail sales decline.

"Downloads are probably $1-2 billion worldwide this year, compared to a $26 billion packaged goods market," he said. "Significant, but not enough to cause a 20% monthly sales decline."