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BizReport : Internet : January 22, 2009

Is online PC gaming stealing from stores?

While industry commentators talk of rising revenues for the PC gaming industry, a recent report from research firm NPD group showed that retail PC game sales fell again last year.

by Helen Leggatt

The U.S. PC gaming industry experienced a second year in a row of revenue falls last year, dropping 14% to $701 million from 2007's $911 million. However, those figures don't include the sale of online subscriptions or downloaded games, a segment of the industry which is growing, claims the managing director of Valve Corporation, owner of Steam, a leading platform for digital content with over 10 million registered users.

And, as Matt Peckham points out in his article, claims are all we have to go on as, to date, no data has been produced to back them up.

But PC gaming is evolving and digital is the obvious way forward. The next generation of PC gamers, and games for that matter, are a social, online breed. Gamers are more than likely on Facebook or MySpace and Steam's community aspect reflects this, in fact it has a group on Facebook. On Steam, members can create a profile page, develop a network of friends, schedule matches, join groups and even voice-chat, either in or out of a game.

The portability of a Steam subscription and games priced lower, in most cases, than their store counterparts all serve to attract PC gamers online.

Couple all that with decreasing PC game selections in-store and I'm pretty sure the gaming industry's figures would be heading in the opposite direction when thrown into the pot.

Tags: Facebook, gamers, MySpace, NPD Group, online gaming, pc games, social, stores, subscription

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