Securities Firm Says ‘Hardcore’ Gamers Prefer Physical Copies
LA-based brokerage firm Wedbush Securities has reported something that probably won’t come as a surprise to most of you – aside from the notion that Xbox and PS3 constitute hardcore gaming. In a look at the buying and gaming habits of console users, they’ve concluded that while casual gamers – defined as people who prefer mobile games or the drop in, drop out experience on Wii – will continue to gravitate toward a fully digital access method for their games, that won’t be a universal trend. Calling the notion that all consumers will prefer to ditch discs a “commonly held misperception” the report notes that hard core gamers will continue to prefer physical copies.
“Many investors believe that consumers are abandoning packaged products in favor of mobile and social games, and think that the publishers who have lost share will never recover,” the report says. “We think that this thesis is only partly true; in our view, casual gamers are likely to shift their playing time from packaged products to mobile and social games, but hard core gamers are far less likely to do so.” What’s more, the report notes the declining sales of Nintendo and rising sales of the consoles preferred by their definition of the hardcore gamer.
If we are right, the packaged goods business should be viewed as consisting of hard core games (the vast majority of sales on the Xbox 360 and PS3) and more casual games (the vast majority of sales on the Wii and DS). Our thesis has been borne out by the 2011 figures (according to the NPD Group), with Xbox 360 software sales up 12%, PS3 software sales up 4%, DS software sales down 21% and Wii software sales down 31%.
Yeah, we know, there is some hilarious comedy in a discussion of hardcore gamers that fails to include PC gamer data. What’s interesting is that the report predicts the further decline of Nintendo, precisely because of their embrace of casual gaming that initially made Wii the ginormous, decade-defining hit it once was. “Later this year, we think that the launch of the Wii U will help mitigate the continued deterioration of Wii software sales, although we think that the casual segment of the games industry will forever favor free-to-play mobile and social games over relatively expensive packaged products.”
Sounds about right to us, though I’m not so sure about the preferences of hardcore gamers. My personal preference for physical discs is that they require more effort for companies to lock them down with DRM, and I don’t have to create space for the entire thing on my computer. But that doesn’t mean downloading isn’t super convenient. The point isn’t the delivery method, it’s the game itself, thus I suspect that people will move on quite comfortably, even hardcore gamers, if the product delivers.
What do you think, Game Fronters? Let us know in comments.