The huge growth in digital gaming continued in May, with the worldwide market for digital video games up 9% year-on-year to $7.8bn (£6.0bn).
According to research firm Superdata, the growth was driven by mobile, which rose by 16%, as well as free-to-play games (up 17%) and pay-to-play/subscription games (up 12%).
Growth was held back by a 4% decline in the social gaming segment, 7% decline in console and a 30% decline in the premium PC market, although Superdata noted that the PC and, to a lesser degree, console markets had a challenge to beat last year’s figures due to the release of Overwatch last May.
Digital sales will account for almost 93% of all game sales within four years, according to a separate report from IDATE DigiWorld Research.
The digital industry analyst said that the global digital game market will grow from €48.1bn (£42.2bn) in 2017 to €73.1bn (£64.1bn) in 2021, the Financial Post reported last week.
Digital revenues are expected to grow fastest in the home console market, thanks to Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo all pushing to make more content – both full games and add-ons – available in their digital stores.
Laurent Michaud, Head of IDATE DigiWorld’s video game practice, told Post Arcade that the growth in digital sales should be enough to offset declining sales of physical media, such as game discs and game cards, in the home console market.
Still, consoles represent a fraction of the market and PCs and smartphones will continue to account for the biggest share of digital game sales.
Computer online game revenues are predicted to increase from €17.3bn (£15.2bn) in 2017 to €19.9bn (£17.5bn) in 2021, while smartphone game revenues will show stronger growth, rising from €16.5bn (£14.5bn) this year to overtake computer revenues as early as 2018 before reaching €22.4bn (£19.7bn) in 2021.
The growth of connectivity in game devices has meant that players can purchase and download almost any game or game-related content they want instantly.
“The internet allows links between games and devices, whatever the segments,” Michaud said. “[Digital access to] games will soon be completely ubiquitous.”