We've known for a long time that digital games are growing in popularity, especially as we move into an era where multiple console manufacturers are releasing digital-only systems like the Xbox Series S. In the UK, the overall percentage of digital game sales now sits at 89.5% according to new figures from the entertainment and retail association.
As reported by the BBC, just over 10% of overall game sales in the UK are now physical copies as digital continues to dominate.
"The digital entertainment and retail association (ERA) said 89.5% of games sold had been digital downloads and the remaining 10.5% actual physical copies.
The numbers mean gamers were much more likely to download games through their console or PC rather than waiting for a delivery or going to a shop."
However, it's important to note that these figures include mobile games — not just dedicated console game sales — where there isn't a physical purchasing option of any kind.
The fact that digital distribution as a method of purchasing games is the most popular way to go in 2023 perhaps isn't wholly surprising, however it's a pretty stark gap when you lay out the figures like this. We'd expect the split to be much closer purely in the console space, although Xbox has typically been digital-leaning for a good while now.
Of course, services like Xbox Game Pass might not be included in game sales figures (it's not wholly clear in this case), but they continue to normalise digital as a way to access games. We must admit, plenty of our Xbox game time comes via Game Pass titles these days!