FIFA 13 scores big on PlayStation Network, finally bringing consoles to the digital age

fifa 13 playstation 3

FIFA 13 is popular. Against all odds, an expertly made video game based on the world’s most popular sport, featuring painstaking recreations of global teams, and updated with stats and standings that reflect actually weekly play is a roaring financial success. Electronic Arts announced on Wednesday that it had sold 4.5 million copies of the game across its myriad copies. 1.23 million copies sold in the UK within 48 hours of release alone, and 800,000 simultaneous players online in the first week. 353,000 copies were sold in the US on just the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. Big numbers indeed. It’s those PlayStation 3 sales that are arguably the most significant in the grand scheme of the video game industry though.

In addition to its multiplatform success, the football game enjoyed a particular achievement on Sony’s console: FIFA 13 was the most downloaded retail game on the UK PlayStation Store for the month of September. While Sony didn’t announce how the game performed compared to PlayStation Network only games like Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD and Tokyo Jungle it did outsell the much cheaper retail games available in the store. It bested regular bestsellers like Batman: Arkham City as well as new full-priced titles like Borderlands 2. What’s more, the digital edition of FIFA 13 costs £50 ($80), full retail price.

Full retail games have been successful as downloads on consoles before, but FIFA’s success is notable as part of Sony’s new press to make digital editions available on the same day as boxed copies. Announced the week FIFA 13 released, the Day 1 Digital initiative sees publishers Electronic Arts, 2K Games, Capcom, Tecmo Koei, and others offering their games through PSN, many of which are discounted slightly for PlayStation Plus members.

Many industry watchers balked at Sony’s pricing these digital copies at the exact same price as the discs available in a store. The digital releases give the same sort of easy access as popular PC digital services like Valve’s Steam but with none of the significant price discounts. Most games from this publishers are available as PC downloads for $10 or $20 below retail price. FIFA 13, meanwhile, has proven that console players are all too happy to pay full price for a downloadable version of the game.

For publishers tired of retailers like GameStop making huge profits on the resale of used games, FIFA’s full-priced digital success is a boon. For gamers though, this is the beginning of what is effectively a new raised standard price for games, the same $60 fee for a game you never properly get to own.