It’s no secret that digital sales make up a large chunk of overall software sales in this day and age. However, a recent report shows just how much of an impact digital sales are having on the overall market.
According to research firm SuperData, digital sales will create $7.8 billion in revenue by the end of 2017, with over half of that — $4 billion — made up by DLC and microtransactions.
This definitely explains why a title like Grand Theft Auto V, which was initially released in 2013, is still a regular staple of the NPD’s top-five lists every month. After all, Grand Theft Auto Online‘s Shark Cards — in-game currency that’s purchased with actual money — has earned over $1 billion in digital sales alone, according to a recent report.
The most common DLC purchases are map packs and new characters, but certain titles are reaping the benefits of microtransactions as well. Rocket League‘s crate keys and Overwatch‘s loot boxes are key examples of this, with the latter raking in $61 million since the game’s release. Both games regularly add significant updates for free, including new arenas and characters, while still charging players for the chance at unlocking smaller cosmetic items.
In terms of more significant DLC, season passes make up a large part of digital sales and have become a major strategy for publishers looking to make some additional income from their games. In fact, 44 percent of players who purchase season passes will purchase the pass as soon as they purchase the game itself.
While that may sound like a lot, this means that almost half of players who end up purchasing season passes for a game don’t even need to play the game before they know they’ll want additional content, which can possibly be attributable more to marketing and brand loyalty than to the quality of the game itself.
That being said, $7.8 billion is a huge chunk of change, so for those players whining about, for example, Battlefield 1‘s Premium Pass splintering the fan-base between haves and have-nots, don’t expect your favorite publishers to move back to a traditional release model anytime soon.