Physical Games Still Preferred Over Digital Copies

The NPD Group has released their report on core gamers for 2014.

With more games available via download, more people each year are turning towards digital and not a hard copy. Digital demand goes up 5 percent year to year. Still, three out of four gamers still want discs. For some, the perks of physical discs is enough to tempt them to buy those instead of buying the digital downloads, such as the Imperial edition of Elder Scrolls Online.

According to a survey completed by the NPD Group, the Core Gaming 2014 Report, the percentage of core gamers in the US that prefer real discs opposed to digital is at 74 percent, considering they are similar in price.

A Preference for Digital

I find myself being in part of the 26% that prefer to download their media. I have two children that have a habit of not putting discs back into their game case. This leads to scratched or ruined games.

On top of that, I like being able to instantly access my game as soon as it goes on sale. I don't have to wait in line or wait for shipping that could be delayed. Anyone with kids knows that a trip to the local game store can take three times as long when you have to travel with the horde.

Internet is Split

Gamers of all shapes and sizes have their preference on the medium they prefer. For many, it has to do with either hard drive space and/or physical storage space for the games. Some gamers prefer not to clutter or fill up their console's limited hard drive space. Some also like have the look of their collection on display, or be able to share games with others.

Physical copies do not have to deal much with DRM (or digital rights management) that prohibits gamers from playing their game on other systems than the origin system. 

About the Core Gaming 2014 Report

Conducted in March, the survey consisted of 7,900 core gamers, ages 9 and up. The panel defined core gamers as people who play five or more hours on any platform, but only in certain genres. These genres include:

  • Action
  • Adventure
  • Fighting
  • Flight
  • MMOs
  • Racing
  • Real-Time Strategy
  • RPGs
  • Shooters
  • or Sports Games.

With their totals of 34 million people who fall within this criteria, the average of playtime a week is 22 hours. A sample of this report is available on the NPD website.

What do you prefer, digital or physical copies?

Published May. 15th 2014
  • auther_pendragon
    I am one of the people who prefer physical games. Unfortunately I am also in an area where games are often not distributed.

    Nothing like waiting years for a game to show up on the market only to find it was released just after announcement and can only be bought 2nd hand for around the same as the new generation consoles.
  • Juicy Jane
    I only buy digital copies, im no collector i like playing the game. i don't like paying for a game that can break in pieces and i wont get a refund
  • zoLo567
    Senior Intern
    I usually go for physical copies. But if I can get a better deal on a game by going digital, then I will opt for the digital version. For me it is just a matter of what is best at the moment
  • Kitten Mother
    I prefer physical copies of games if I can afford them. But some games I get happen to be MMOs but have to order them outside of the EU if I want an NA copy to play with friends in NA. Though I moved to Norway some years ago, I still have all my friends back in the US... So either pay higher taxes just to bring something overseas....or just buy it online. Other games that aren't a big deal for that are single-player games like Skyrim. They're expensive for the content ( MMOs will usually have far more content and so I consider them a better buy more often than not for what little I can spend at a time right now on extras ). But I'm also not in a rush to get games and will gladly wait some months of them being out at the very least before snatching them up.
  • Proto Foe
    Senior Intern
    I am mostly all digital now when it comes to PC games! I still get CE versions of games though, such as Dark Souls, The Elder Scrolls Online, and WIldStar.

    Console wise, I have purchased more digital copies in the 6 months that the Xbox One has been out than I did the whole of 360. Though, PSN got me digitally purchasing years ago. Mainly due it not offering physical versions of classics.
  • Ryumoau
    This is not surprising. As long as publishers insist on overcharging for digital versions of games on both psn and xbl, most of us will always get the disk version instead. At least with that, we can trade it when we finish.
  • Si_W
    I still prefer discs for the major releases but happy enough to go digital on the rather prevalent Steam sales and even a couple of the rather rare decent Origin sales.

    Generally I just buy the disc version and input the code into Steam or Origin.

    Two examples:

    1. Got Watch Dogs pre-ordered from Amazon for £29.86, would cost me £39.99 to pre-order from Steam.

    2. Got Titanfall from Amazon for £33.85, still on Origin for £44.99 (although a flash sale currently has it at 40% off for £26.99).

    Therefore the impulse to buy the hard copy is purely economical.
  • Mary Yeager
    Senior Intern
    Sales can be a huge motivation on which type of copy a person gets. That is true. It does not always make sense when a digital copy is the same price for a physical set that requires a lot of packaging to be paid for as opposed to the digital which has no physical packaging.
  • [[Deleted]]
    For the most part I prefer discs.

    What can I say.. I like cover art, and the action figures, cards, posters, ect that come with physical games (typically collector/limited editions).

    However, when it comes to MMO's... like FFXIV, Guild Wars 2 ect. I prefer the digital copy, typically because I reformat my PC every 6 months so being able to download the latest exe client to minimize update times is very handy.

    That being said... I think I'll wind up slowly shifting over to digital, if only because alot of business and design software is moving over to "the cloud" and is phasing out physical media altogether, so its becoming more natural to go digital now.
  • Mary Yeager
    Senior Intern
    I have to say I agree. Though I have been noticing a decline in really good collector's edition as opposed to past years. The stuff in them also seem to be cheaply made as well.
  • Landon Sommer
    I own plenty of both. I prefer tangible copies, but something is lost when you buy a disc, just to have it require a download from Steam.
  • Mary Yeager
    Senior Intern
    That is true. Plus I also believe that it also depends on the type of game that is being purchased. I like MMOs and those are usually best purchased digitally since you can't play until you are fully patched to most recent version.
  • Elijah Beahm
    Featured Columnist
    *looks at three drawers full of PC games*

    *looks at long list of games in Steam library*

    I'm Switzerland!
  • Mary Yeager
    Senior Intern
    Just out of curiousity, how many of those have you actually played in your Steam library? I have a very small Steam library myself at the moment, but I have heard stories of people with massive libraries of games they've never played.
  • Fathoms_4209
    Featured Columnist
    I have an attention span and I don't need to play a game minutes after it has launched. All of that is entirely unnecessary to me. The only benefit of digital that I can see is that you can save on space, which is relatively useful.

    But I want something tangible in a collection; something I can see and touch. I'm sorry, but a bunch of digital files on a screen is not a collection in my eyes.
  • Mary Yeager
    Senior Intern
    I personally am short on time due to family and other life commitments. Play time is slim as it is so being able to download while I'm out so I can play while I have time is a huge benefit to me.
  • Germ_the_Nobody
    It's hilarious bullcrap. 7900 gamers? lol Not even worth bothering trying to pretend that survey is worth a damn.
  • Juicy Jane
    lol you have no clue about life don't you ? how do you do a servey please tell the people that actually do it. coz clearly you know a thing or two about survey
  • Rothalack
    Master O' Bugs
    I'm with you there instant access and avoiding damaged and lost discs. I just love my instant on demand gaming with Steam. Oh hey that games looks cool and it's on sale, in-game in less than 5 minutes. Really can't beat that.
  • Mary Yeager
    Senior Intern
    That's very true. Plus digital also allows for more impulse buying. You see a cool game, you buy it. There isn't the hassle of getting up the energy to trudge to the local game store and then wait.

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