NEW YORK ( TheStreet) – With an entire generation of gamers weaned on digitally distributed games across mobile devices, PCs and consoles, the days of purchasing discs loaded with games could be limited.
Sony's ( SNE) PlayStation 4, Microsoft's ( MSFT) Xbox One and Nintendo's ( NTDOY) Wii U offers players the choice of downloading new releases, or purchasing the disc online or in a retail store. Recently, Nintendo went as far as allowing players to pre-purchase games via online or through their mobile devices to have them ready to play on the day that the game is launched.
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"Many popular titles are now seeing digital sales account for approximately 25% of their total unit sales," said Sartori Bernbeck, an EEDAR video game analyst. And the potential impact from digital sales can be substantial.
Across game consoles and PCs, players are expected this year to spend about $9 billion globally on digital versions of complete games and add-ons, said Lewis Ward, a video game analyst with research firm IDC.
And that figure does not even take into account revenue generated from online game subscriptions. Microsoft, which has over 80 million Xbox 360 consoles out in the market worldwide and over 7 million Xbox One consoles in circulation, sells its Xbox Live Gold subscription for $60 a year. That translates into a potential market of $5.2 billion in annual revenue for Xbox Live Gold subscriptions.