Opinion: Now is an opportune time to push digital-only gaming

With the current inflation-driven economic landscape, consumers are trying to save money wherever possible--and this could bode well for digital gaming.

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Now is an opportune time for video games developers, publishers, and platform-holders to push consumers even further towards digital gaming.

Opinion: Now is an opportune time to push digital-only gaming 1

With the help of the billion-dollar microtransaction market, digital has taken over gaming as the largest revenue-generating medium. Console-makers like Sony and Microsoft have released digital-only systems to serve content, subscriptions, and services directly to consumers via digital marketplaces.

The up-side for digital-only games is massive for these companies; digital cuts a lot of costs, including manufacturing/shipping costs of the discs themselves. The trend towards digital has been vastly accelerated on both the hardware and access front, with platform-holders like Sony, Nintendo, and Microsoft offering value-oriented subscriptions to buffer--and, in Microsoft's case, overtake--the traditional business of selling games.

Now publishers and developers have found a new way to exploit current market trends and further push consumers towards digital gaming.

The tactic is pretty simple. Game-makers are prepared to offer their titles at lower prices in exchange for the games being digital-only. Games have become more expensive with Gen9 consoles, and the MSRP of video games is currently at $69.99, a full $10 increase over the $59.99 price of Gen8 console games.

If a game is digital-only, then the price typically drops by $20 to $49.99. We've seen a handful of digital-only games use this pricing, including Alan Wake II, Like a Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name, and Hellblade II's upcoming release in May.

Even with microtransactions excluded, PlayStation makes most of its revenues from digital game sales.

Even with microtransactions excluded, PlayStation makes most of its revenues from digital game sales.

This new standard pricing model is very much like streaming services simultaneously raising the prices of their top subscriptions while offering new lower-cost, ad-supported tiers in the process.

It's a pure price proposition that publishers are offering consumers: Give up physical product ownership in exchange for a lower price. The trend could work, too, but it remains to be seen how well.

Inflation-driven economic conditions have forced consumers to become very price conscious over recent years, and the new pricing strategy could make a significant impact on consumer discretionary funds.

With interest rates still high, and consumer goods prices showing no signs of going down any time soon, now seems like an opportune time for publishers, developers, and platform-holders to attempt to capitalize on digital-only releases as consumers push towards saving money across all dimensions of spending.

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Derek joined the TweakTown team in 2015 and has since reviewed and played 1000s of hours of new games. Derek is absorbed with the intersection of technology and gaming, and is always looking forward to new advancements. With over six years in games journalism under his belt, Derek aims to further engage the gaming sector while taking a peek under the tech that powers it. He hopes to one day explore the stars in No Man's Sky with the magic of VR.

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