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Boston – October 10, 2012

Digital Channels are Increasing in Importance for US Game Buyers, New hybris Study Finds

69% of Survey Respondents Play Online Computer Games. With 24% Upping Their Browser-based Play This Year, Game Purchases Online and Game Downloads are Gaining Traction.

 

hybris, a leading provider of multichannel commerce and communication software, announced today the results of its 2012 US PC and Console Gaming Survey which was conducted to determine consumer opinions, behaviors and buying patterns regarding buying PC, Mac and console games.

The study found that over half of PC and Mac and console gamers play weekly. And of those who had purchased new PC and Mac game content in the past year, while 47% bought boxed computer games at bricks-and-mortar stores such as Wal-Mart, 34% purchased games on retailer websites, and 13% bought from game studio or publishers online. In addition, 41% bought game downloads on retailer websites such as amazon.com, 24% on game studio or publisher websites, and 21% on digital platforms such as Steam.

Of those respondents who had purchased new console game content in the last 12 months, 71% bought boxed console games in-store, with a further 49% on retailer websites. 45% purchased console downloads on digital platforms like the Xbox Marketplace.

The instant gratification of downloads was seen as a major plus by consumers. The main advantage of game downloads, noted by 57% of game buyers, is the ability to install them and play right away, followed by lower pricing (42%) and the reduced need for storage (37%).

The survey also found that downloadable content (DLC) is growing gaming revenue. Of those surveyed, 55% had bought downloadable gaming content such as levels, weapons and expansion packs in 2011, with almost 20% spending $50 plus. 27% of game buyers would prefer to buy DLC from an online retailer, followed by in-game purchase at 16%, and digital platforms such as Origin or PSN at 15%.

“While bricks-and-mortar retailers currently garner a good amount of game sales, digital purchase channels are increasing in importance – and opportunity. Digital downloads of games and gaming content have a huge potential to continue to grow with faster Internet services, full game streaming on consoles and with providers increasing the appeal of digital game content,” said Cliff Conneighton, vice president of product strategy at hybris. “Our survey also found that online game play is up this year, suggesting that online gaming is becoming a viable alternative to traditional console and PC gaming as developers and publishers bring more titles to the web. It is imperative for gaming providers to focus on their digital strategies in order to fully capitalize not only on current but also on future opportunities in this evolving space.”

 

Freemium Model

The survey also revealed that free trials and free-to-play games are driving game sales. When asked what might compel them to purchase more games, 70% of game buyers said free trials, and 60% cited free-to-play titles. A further 58% would be likely to purchase more gaming content if it were available for download.

In addition, findings showed that conversion rates are high for free trials and free-to-play titles. Of those surveyed, exactly half (50%) had played an upgradable trial version of a game in the past 12 months, with 26% upgrading to a paid game. A further 32% had played a free-to-play title, with 21% reported buying additional content to extend or enhance a game.

“DLC increases the longevity of titles – along with margins – allowing developers and publishers to experiment with lower cost ownership models such as freemium and free-to-play. In order for retailers and game publishers to encourage further adoption in the digital gaming channel, they will need to continue to innovate and provide more compelling reasons for consumers to purchase and play online,” added Conneighton. “For example, they should consider linking game versions across machines as some providers currently are, or providing other appealing enhancements. They could also find ways to enable people to re-sell their games as they can with DVDs. Strategies like these will help to meet consumer needs and drive digital business growth.”

Analysis of the survey findings is available in a new report, PC and Console Gaming: The End of the DVD?, which presents in detail consumer perspectives on digital game content including PC and console game buyers’ attitudes towards packaged and downloaded software; gameplay preferences and their impact on the pay-to-play model; spending patterns, payment drivers and channel preferences; and usage of free trials and free-to-play games and conversion rates. The report is available for download from hybris at www.hybris.com/gaming.

In addition, hybris will be conducting a four-part, on-demand webcast series on opportunities in the digital gaming space, launching on Thursday, Oct. 11. Topics include Gaining Competitive Advantage: Gaming's Shifting Business Model (with Lewis Ward of IDC), Capture Your Share: Seizing the Moment to Dominate (with David Cole of DFC Intelligence), Taking It to the Next Level: Building Lasting Customer Connections (with Lewis Ward of IDC) and From Promise to Reality: Getting Cascading Commerce Done Right. To register, visit www.hybris.com/gaming.

 

About the hybris 2012 PC and Console Gaming Survey

The hybris online study polled 504 US adults over the age of 18 who have purchased PC or Mac or console games or gaming content in the past 12 months. The survey was developed to examine consumer attitudes and behaviors towards buying PC or Mac and console games.