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PC Games Net $13.1 Billion in 2009 as Digital Distribution Grows and Retail Sales Shrink

The industry consortium known as the PC Gaming Alliance has unveiled details of its 2009 Horizons Report, offering an update on the worldwide state of PC gaming.

Among the key findings is word that "PC gaming software revenue" continues to grow, with the worldwide market pulling in some $13.1 billion during 2009. The previous year, 2008, saw revenue of "about $11 billion" while 2007 bought in $10.7 billion.

Most of that growth can be attributed to the growing popularity of digital distribution and paid downloads, as boxed retail games saw another downturn and accounted for "less than 20% of total revenue [in 2009]." According to surveys by research group DFC Intelligence, over 70% of PC gamers in North America and Europe indicate that they bought a full game online and over 50% have bought a virtual item.

However, it wasn't all good news. While the overall market grew, "most countries in North America and Europe" saw revenue decline "10-15% from record highs in 2008," with the growth of the "Asia Pacific region" market helping offset the decline.

As for the reasons behind the decline, the PC Gaming Alliance cited "the severe worldwide recession," the lack of major new release in "high-end subscription games," along with the growing popularity of free-to-play games and social networking.

That said, the consortium remained optimistic about the future, as those "free-to-play games and social network sites continue to draw in thousands of new game players that can be progressively monetized." Furthermore, the continued growth of digital distribution and services "is what drove growth in Asia and we think it is just starting to come to Western markets," according to PCGA president Randy Stude.

Update: For the sake of comparison, DFC Intelligence estimated that the worldwide gaming market--including console hardware--would hit $57 billion in 2009.