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Analyst says digital sales made up 92 percent of PC game market in 2013

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It might be time to reconsider the idea that digital distribution is the future. According to analyst firm DFC Intelligence, it actually stopped being the future quite some time ago, as nearly all PC game purchases made in 2013 were done digitally.

92 percent is a huge number, certainly higher than I would have guessed, but that's the figure that DFC served up to PCR , and it's a shift that's been underway for awhile. Two years ago, EA announced in its first-quarter financial results for FY2013 that it actually made more money from PC sales than PlayStation 3, a fact attributable largely to the rise of digital sales. In the same report, it revealed that digital sales had increased dramatically over the previous year, while physical sales were in obvious decline.

Aside from the usual suspects, such as Steam and GOG, the digital explosion is also being fueled by the rise of free-to-play games, a model that's become so lucrative that Crytek bet ( and almost lost ) the farm on it. John Romero said last month that the PC is "decimating" consoles, thanks in large part to the popularity of free-to-play games, a position bolstered by DFC in April, when it said that the worldwide PC games market had actually surpassed that of consoles .

Of course, not everyone is ready to give up their boxes, discs and feelies; consider the IndieBox, a small operation we looked at earlier this month that's found success creating physical collector's editions of popular indie games. But in the big picture, there is no doubt: The PC game box is dead and buried.

Andy Chalk
Andy Chalk

Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.