Two-thirds of games sold in the UK last year were purchased digitally, it’s been revealed.
According to a GamesIndustry.biz analysis of GSD market data, 42.7 million games were bought across physical and digital in 2020, 24.5 million of which were downloaded – an increase of 74% over 2019.
However, not every publisher submits digital data to GSD – including Nintendo and Bethesda – and if these publishers are discounted from the data it results in 67% of games having been purchased digitally via Xbox Live, the PlayStation Store, Nintendo eShop and Steam.
GI reports that the figure represents a significant increase on 2019, when 52% of games sold were via download stores.
“The market was transitioning towards digital before 2020,” notes GI’s Christopher Dring. “However, the COVID-19 pandemic may have accelerated the move towards downloading, with many High Street retail stores being closed for extended periods during the year.
“Nevertheless, the physical games market remains hugely lucrative, and actually grew last year. 18.2 million games were sold in boxes in 2020 in the UK, which is an increase of 2% over 2019.
UK’s Top 10 Games of 2020 (Digital + Physical)
- FIFA 21 (EA)
- Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War (Activision Blizzard)
- Grand Theft Auto 5 (Rockstar)
- FIFA 20 (EA)
- Call of Duty: Modern Warfare (Activision Blizzard)
- Animal Crossing: New Horizons* (Nintendo)
- Assassin’s Creed Valhalla (Ubisoft)
- The Last of Us Part 2 (Sony)
- NBA 2K20 (2K Games)
- Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege (Ubisoft)
“If we include all physical items — including consoles and accessories — the physical games market in the UK is worth over £2.1 billion, which is up 28% over 2019.”
As detailed in a separate report, FIFA 21 was the UK’s best-selling game of 2020 with almost 2.2 million copies sold. That’s ahead of Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War, which sold 1.42 million copies.
The most successful boxed games publisher was Nintendo, with 20.5% of all physical games sold. Electronic Arts was second most successful with 12.4%.
Digitally, the biggest games publisher of the year was Ubisoft, with an 18% share of the market, followed by EA at 15%.
With physical and digital combined, Ubisoft was the overall leader with 14.3% market share (followed closely by EA at 13.7%), however, as previously stated, Nintendo digital sales are not included in the data.