The constant push and pull between digital and physical games is one of the continuing debates within the gaming community. However, despite the appearance of physical media feeling like old technology, more console players prefer it. Around 66% of the surveyed console players prefer physical discs while 71% of PC players favor digital downloads.
Nielsen, a global measurement and data analytics company, provided this data among many of the statistics in their recent US Games 360 Report for 2018. They conducted over 2,000 interviews with teens and adults over 13 years old. The sample size also was equally split between females and males and was weighted to represent the United States population.
Preference to physical games could be linked to inconsistent internet speeds and download caps in the United States. Most games hover around 40 gigabytes, whereas some can balloon to well over 70 gigs. Having a disc cuts down on installation times and gets players in the game a bit faster without carving into a possible download cap. Having used games and frequent retail sales could also be a big contributing factor.
The study also outlines a few other interesting tidbits. Around 66% of the entire United States population over 13 years old identify as “gamers,” which is up from 58% in 2013. Out of general awareness for consoles, the PS4 finished first as the most recognized piece of hardware among gamers, non-gamers, and the general population with a 70% average. This lines up with the recent the most recent NPD, where the PS4 sold extremely well.
The Xbox One X came in second in awareness for all three groups with a 57% average. In addition to awareness, the sampled people were most likely to buy a PS4 (24%), just barely edging out the Nintendo Switch (23%). The Xbox One X and Xbox One finished in last place of the consoles at 22% and 20% respectively.
The numbers for virtual reality are not quite as positive. Only 27% of gamers and 18% of the general population were very satisfied or somewhat satisfied with the medium. Apathy is the biggest winner as 63% of gamers and 49% of the general population have no opinion on virtual reality. It’s still in its infancy and the main three headsets are still pretty expensive. Whatever the reason, that’s still a big hill to climb.
The rest of the extensive survey breaks down a bunch of stats concerning esports, in-game purchases, retro gaming, and more. Their website has the rest of the results for free as long as you fill out the form, which doesn’t require accurate information.