If recent numbers gathered by Forecasting and Analyzing Digital Entertainment (FADE) are correct, then brick-and-mortar retail shops definitely have something to worry about in regards to physical products vs. digital counterparts. If anything, the numbers show that digital distribution is growing at an incredible rate as gamers migrate to online "shops" like the PlayStation Network, Xbox Live and Valve Software's Steam.
According to the firm, Steam alone had an estimated revenue of $970 million USD in 2010. Its biggest-selling game for the year was Activision's Call of Duty: Black Ops for $98.2 million followed by Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 for $39.4 million. Its third largest selling game for the year was Valve's own Left 4 Dead 2 which raked in an impressive $36 million. Steam even took in an estimated $213 million in December alone, probably due to its crazy year-end holiday sale.
"Steam's growth has been remarkable during the year," said FADE director of research and analysis Benjamin Schlichter. "Over 180 titles were estimated reaching over $1 million USD in revenue for the year, painting a very healthy market for developers and publishers, with more room for growth in the future."
Here's the top selling titles on Steam for 2010:
- Call of Duty: Black Ops (Activision) - $98.2 Million USD
- Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 (Activision) - $39.4 Million USD
- Left 4 Dead 2 (Valve) - $36.0 Million USD
- Battlefield: Bad Company 2 (Electronic Arts) - $25.4 Million USD
- Sid Meier's Civilization V (2K Games) - $21.9 Million USD
- Portal (Valve) - $20.0 Million USD
- Fallout: New Vegas (Bethesda Softworks) - $17.0 Million USD
- Metro 2033 (THQ) - $13.4 Million USD
- Mafia II (2K Games) - $11.9 Million USD
- Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War II: Chaos Rising (THQ) - $10.8 Million USD
Keep in mind that the Steam numbers only reflect PC versions offered by Valve's platform. That doesn't include other digital distribution services like Direct2Drive, Gamer's Gate, OnLive and so on. It also doesn't include digital versions (if available) hosted on the console networks. But add all the distribution services together and the resulting picture may appear to show physical retailers quickly losing their hold on gamers. Is it any wonder why GameStop and other stores don't want games using Steamworks on their shelves?
It will be interesting to see the numbers at the end of 2011. Retailers will still be able to depend on a chunk of revenue generated by the Nintendo 3DS. And even though the PSP2/NGP device won't have a UMD drive, Sony will still provide software on game cards to be purchased in-store. But with space for PC games narrowed down to just a few shelves, Steam numbers shouldn't be surprising at all.