Australians Are Spending A Lot Of Money On Digital Video Games

Australians Are Spending A Lot Of Money On Digital Video Games

So here’s something we were all aware of: digital sales of video games is a massive growth market. Retail sales? Not so much.

Here’s something new: in 2015, for the very first time, Australians spent more money on digital games than they did at traditional retail. We all knew this day would come.

The raw figures: in 2015 Australians spent $2.832 billion on video games. Digital sales accounted for $1.589 billion of that figure, while traditional retail made up the rest — $1.243 billion.

But here’s the thing: video game retail is still actually growing. It’s up 2% this year compared to 2014. That’s all well and good, but digital growth completely dwarves that figure. Digital is up a massive 27%.

Interestingly, the Interactive Games Association of Australia, who commissioned the study, attribute the increase in digital sales (in part) to consoles.

“Digital sales continue to surge in Australia as consumers become increasingly comfortable purchasing downloaded versions and additional content of their favourite games,” explained Ron Curry, CEO of the IGEA. “The current generation of consoles have been adopted rapidly by Australians, highlighting that gaming culture has become well and truly mainstream in the intervening years. This has had a flow on effect to the increased sale of both packaged games and digital content.”

Either way, people are spending a lot of money on video games.


  • You say that as if we have a choice other than to spend a lot of money when buying stuff…

  • I only buy digital for console when it is cheaper than retail, which is basically only when sales are run – I refuse to pay $100 digital when i know i can walk down the road and get the disc for $70

    • I tend to base it on how many hours I expect to be playing the game for more so than price.

      Something that I expect to take dozens / hundreds of hours e.g. big open world stuff like MGS5 / GTA 5, RPGs like Fallout 4 or Souls/Bloodborne etc, or something like a Battlefield game which I’ll play a lot of multiplayer… games like this I’ll buy digital just for the convenience of having it there on the hard drive ready to launch at the press of a button without messing around with the disc.

      Shorter games e.g. Life is Strange or Uncharted i.e. stuff that I might play for 10-15 hours and then not go back to (at least not any time soon) I tend to buy physical unless there’s a really good sale on the digital verison.

      • Not sure if you misread the comment from matt1234 but he was talking more about only buying digital if the cost is cheaper than retail, which with consoles doesn’t happen very often.

        Case in point, The Division (Pre-Order)
        $99.95 at the Xbox Store
        $99.95 at the PS Store
        $69.00 at JB Hi-Fi (+$3.50 postage to have it delivered if you don’t want to go in to the store)

        There is a $27.45-$30.95 difference in price between Retail and Digital. That is massive when you consider that Digital has a lot less costs to produce compared to getting a physical copy delivered. But we all know the many reasons why this is the case.

        PC counteracts this by having massive events like the Steam sales. You could argue that a massive portion of digital sales made are through the likes of Steam as it is perceived as great value.

        • An Xbox One digital copy of The Division Pre-Order is currently $48.58 AU… if you’re willing to get SUPER SHADY.
          It’s important to at least know what the digitalgamesprices are on Xbox One.

        • & that’s not mentioning the resale value of the physical disk. so a $69 game will only cost you $35 if you can get 50% back selling it.

    • & then you can sell that disk & get 1/2 your money back.. This is why i’ll always choose a physical product over digital (unless it’s significantly cheaper; like 70%)

  • I won’t buy a $99 digital game that takes 3 hours to download when I can buy the same game for $69 on disc and play it immediately.

  • I’ve been doing this for years. Although 90% of my digital library is from overseas store. There is a snowballs chance in hell of me buying a physically cheaper product for more money via Australian rip off channels.

    • Yeah! I buy via digital channels that specifically target Australians for ripping off! 😀
      (My Steam library is huge.)

  • ” but digital growth completely dwarves that figure.”

    Dwarfs, not dwarves.. we are not talking about little people popularised by JRR Tolkein. 🙂

    It surprises me that there are not many truly Australian-based digital sellers. With the definitive shift of most PC games now being almost entirely a digital product (ie. the physical discs really don’t contain much of the game files these days), it makes sense for the digital sales to rise, but why are retailers sticking so strongle to brick and mortar sales.

  • Some of that may be attributed to the fact that there are an increasing number of titles only being released digitally to PAL territories.

    • I thought it would’ve had the opposite effect. It’s kinda weird, really…

      Take a look at a game like Far Cry Primal: Selling on Steam for $59.95US in America, $60.95US in Australia… so the ‘Australia Tax’ is basically a buck – virtually nothing. But the currency conversion puts the final price buying at basically the US price: $85AU.

      But go to any store other than EB (notorious for highest ‘standard’ pricing by default), and you can grab it on console for $78.

      So digital’s actually the more expensive option even when priced the same as the US and not engaging in that bastard ‘Australia Tax’ practice, due to wholesale being lower than retail and our brick-and-mortar shrinking their margins?

      • Hmm that’s quite an interesting point, Now I need to do more maths when buying games.

  • Also, maybe, rise in DLC (cough-gamebeingcutintopartsforfuturesale-cough) has helped this along? From my own perspective the last 12 months have seen me purchase more DLC and season passes than before. My PS4 being able to download stuff in the background and while almost turned off is also a great benefit over the PS3 (which would have to be left on all night with noisey fans…)
    Either way, games are big business yet are still treated like toys by most of our leaders.

  • Do you mind not outlining the fact of how many games we purchase online, last thing we need is a higher tax on online purchase’s and that’s already going up 20%… greedy aus government

  • I generally only buy digital if there’s not much choice. As in:

    a) Something like an Xbox Live Arcade sort of game which has no physical version. And unless it’s something I specifically want or am excited for, will quite often wait for a sale anyway.
    b) The rare time(s) when something is actually a fantastic deal on the online digital stores that can’t be found elsewhere.

    An example of both was that this past month, The Jack Box Party Bundles (containing Packs 1 & 2) worked out to be something like $36 (including taking on the temporary benefits of a trial PSN membership which has since expired and had removed auto-renewal from). Not only was that cheaper than individually (in-store at EB, part 1 currently is $28 on special, $50 RRP), but part 2 is only available digitally and on the PSN store, making that a rare fantastic deal IMO.

    There’s something that concerns me about the trend mentioned in this article though. And that’s the fact that digital prices generally end up being much worse than in-store. I kind of wished that people would boycott or in some way “send a message” that we wanted our prices to be more reasonable from the start than what we’re given at times. As it stands, I guess i’m not in a notable minority that only purchases digitally sparingly and carefully. Then again I’m kinda old skool in the sense that I prefer a physical library (but that doesn’t usually dictate what form I choose – pricing does).

  • Australians Are Spending A Lot Of Money On Digital Video Games
    And spending a loooonnnnggg time downloading them to actually play them!
    Want to install ESO – 60+ GB or how about The Division at 35+GB
    Whilst digital maybe very accessible to our gaming needs, our Aussie internet speeds don’t make it friendly in my books. I still prefer a physical copy so that if I have to do a re-install all I have to worry about is those ridiculous sized patches.

        • I’m genuinely pleased that you’re loving being one of the 1/3rd of Australians who have access to the NBN and $100 per month to spend on a 100mb connection.

          Still would have taken a little over an hour, it was about 52GB.

          • wasn’t intending to gloat, just say that it’s crap that it’s not being rolled out.. but pretty much 99% of ppl here would agree with me.

          • $90/mth for 100/40 and unlimited data here.

            It’s wonderful, but people just a stones throw away are stuck on ADSL with shockingly slow speeds even for ADSL. It’s ridiculous.

          • All my neighbours across the street have FTTP, but we’re still stuck on ADSL. :l

    • Still, with the growing prevalence and size of Day One Patches (and some titles being so cheeky as to actually be a case with a digital download key inside), the practice of having a physical DRM key inserted to play the game is looking increasingly pointless.

    • Oh stop being so silly, our existing century old corroded copper is PERFECTLY ADEQUATE! It’s not like we need some kind of national network specifically for broadband, the internet isn’t important anyway, its all just porn and funny cat pictures…

      Now I’ve made myself all depressed…

    • Pity we don’t have a decent NBN to download them all.. I am one of the lucky 1% (according to that has 12MB/sec download speed.. so 35GB to me isn’t that scary anymore.. but it was less than a few months ago that I dreaded the time it took and got quite angry when preloads for big games weren’t available etc.

      Even with my fast NBN, I’d still prefer to own the full game on disc than to have to download it (or most of it).

  • dont say that game industry has money…. the government will want to tax it more

    next thing gaming will be a qualified job and you will be kicked off centrelink

  • I’m definitely in the minority in that me and the missus have an XB1 each, so we buy digitally anything that has coop and get two copies.

    We just paid $110 for PvZ:GW2 deluxe but are loving having separate copies and playing all modes together online so the value is there for us. Anything I know I’ll be playing alone or has no co-op however digital sale or disc only (ie, ESO or Alien Isolation).

  • I’m slowly accepting digital over disc. Mostly because xbox has this neat little trick that lets you set your home console to someone else’s and vice versa and you both get the game. So you go halves with said person. I payed $75 for the $150 version of black ops 3 on the xbl store because of this little trick.

    • I do that exact trick with my partners xbox (next to her pc). We buy the digital versions of games that we both want to play and physical copies of the things that only one of us wants to play.

      The only time we have been burned doing this is a couple of weeks ago my gf decided she wanted to give the Dark Souls series a go (starting with 2 because reasons?). I’d bought it on disc and she wanted my help going through it for a while till she got her “Souls legs”. I told her “We cant because you insisted you’d never want to play it, so I bought the disc.” She gave it a go, lasted 25 mins and uninstalled. I can’t blame her, I did the same thing when I played DS1.

  • If only there was some sort of fibre optics network infrastructure that would encourage more of this downloading thing… Also a local game development industry…

  • What else is there to do with your time and money when all the bars and clubs are closed down thanks to lockout laws…?

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