Video games were a $120.1 billion industry in 2019, according to SuperData. To give some idea of how big a number that is, consider this: Worldwide movie ticket sales clocked in at $42.5 billion.
Clearly, the industry is big and getting bigger.
But that hasn’t proven to be a boon for the nation’s preeminent video game retailer, GameStop. In fact, in 2018, the company reported record net losses of $673 million and things just keep looking worse.
One of the main reasons for the decline? The rise in downloadable games offered by all the major video game console manufacturers. It appears as if GameStop might be having its “Blockbuster, meet Netflix” moment.
In fact, among video game buyers 18 and over purchasing new, only about 10% of purchases are made at gaming-only retail stores like GameStop. Fourteen percent are made via downloads.
It gets even worse when age is taken into consideration, as a third of Gen Z 18 or older gets their games online.
Despite the problems, there might be hope; after all, 15% of Americans 13+ say they’ve visited a GameStop retail location at least once in the last six months.
It is obvious that 15% isn’t exactly setting the world on fire, and the low numbers become more apparent when compared to the percentage (25%) of people who are avid (at least weekly) video game players.
And while downloadable games are definitely eating into GameStop’s bottom line, a new potential leviathan is emerging: Streamable video games.
Sony has been dabbling in this space with PlayStation Now, but Google and Apple have also stepped into this world in a big way with the releases of Google Stadia and Apple Arcade.
Google Stadia debuted November 19 with a dozen titles, marking the largest entry into this burgeoning space.
Ahead of its release, 6% of Americans 13+ said they were at least somewhat likely to purchase a Google Stadia subscription at $9.99 a month. In the month after its release, CivicScience data showed 2% users and only 2% intenders.
With the rise of downloadable games and the coming dawn of streaming services, CivicScience will continue to monitor the growing competition and where user allegiances end up settling.