Physical video game releases see an increase after a five-year slump

physical video game releases recover after five year slump gamestop 3 640x0
After sinking to a record-low number of boxed releases in 2015, the gaming industry recovered in 2016 with a renewed focus on physical video game sales, a recent analysis on The NPD Group Blog reveals.

Industry analyst Mat Piscatella notes that gaming retail sales saw a steady decline over the last several years, with 2015 producing a total of 230 boxed releases across all platforms. Retail performance rebounded with 271 physical releases in 2016 and this year promises additional gains for an ailing industry.

Gaming’s increasing focus on digitally distributed titles began to take its toll on retail sales as early as 2010, when 742 unique releases hit retail across all gaming platforms, according to NPD’s research. The next year brought this figure down to 584 titles and 2012 saw a further decline, producing only 424 boxed releases in total.

Piscatella attributes 2016’s sudden recovery to GameStop’s newly introduced publishing initiative and the rise of independent boutique publishers.

“There are fewer publishers, and on average those remaining publishers are bringing fewer games to retail than they were at the start of the decade,” Piscatella explains. “This has resulted in a dramatic reduction in release count; one that just so happens to correlate quite well to packaged retail sales.”

Piscatella continues: “The good news is that the decline in packaged release count stopped in 2016. […] GameStop has proactively taken the steps to enter physical publishing of smaller scale digital games with GameTrust. Its first title, Insomniac’s Song of the Deep, launched in July, was supported with significant presence and promotion at retail and in consumer marketing. GameTrust also has partnerships in place with developers of digital games such as Tequila Works, Ready at Dawn and Frozenbyte.”

505 Games and Soedesco Publishing also led the charge with physical versions of formerly digital-exclusive titles like Rocket League, Terraria, Ziggurat, and Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams. 505’s next digital-to-physical release, a retail PlayStation 4 version of the indie farm life sim Stardew Valley, is due to launch in April.

According to Piscatella, niche publishers and retailers alike now stand to benefit from the increased presence and variety of physical gaming releases.

“What these smaller titles can do is generate additional sales of the games themselves while at the same time driving traffic to the video game aisle,” Piscatella projects, “leading to incremental sales of other games while re-engaging consumers that have gaming interests beyond the latest AAA big-budget shooter.”

Movies & TV

Pedro Pascal officially cast as 'The Mandalorian' as Disney show fills out cast

The Mandalorian, Jon Favreau's live-action Star Wars series planned for Disney's streaming video service, will be one of the most expensive television shows ever made. Here's everything we know about it so far.

How to use Samsung’s Bixby assistant for all of your smartphone tasks

Samsung Bixby is a powerful tool, but not the most intuitive one we've encountered. Here's how to set up and use every feature of Samsung's digital assistant, as well as what to expect in the future.
Smart Home

Ward off porch pirates with the best outdoor security cameras

Worried about porch pirates stealing your packages, or intruders entering your home? Always be in the know about who or what is on your property by installing one of these outdoor security cameras.
Home Theater

These awesome A/V receivers will swarm you with surround sound at any budget

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to shopping for a receiver, so we assembled our favorites for 2018, at multiple price points and all loaded with features, from Dolby Atmos to 4K HDR, and much more.

Sharing your best gameplay moments is quick and easy on the Xbox One

The current generation of consoles make it easier than ever to share your gaming highlights with the world. Here's a quick guide on how you can record a gameplay video on Xbox One.

‘Kingdom Hearts III’ out in the wild, director asks for support to stop spoilers

Kingdom Hearts III has been leaked, with several copies of the game out in the wild. The game's director, Tetsuya Nomura, responded to the situation, calling for help from gamers to stop spoilers from spreading online.

The history of Battle Royale: From mod to worldwide phenomenon

Battle royale games like PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds’ and Fortnite have become the biggest trend in video games. The genre is also pushing the envelope in streaming and eSports in a way that might hint at the future of the industry.

The DualShock 4 is one of the best controllers ever, and you can use it with a PC

Sony's new DualShock 4 controller has become a fan favorite, and some people want to use it with a PC. Here's how to connect your DualShock 4 and start using it, either with an official adapter, or unofficial software.

Project Stream testers get to keep a free copy of ‘Assassin’s Creed Odyssey’

Those who participated in Google's technical test of Project Stream won't be able to access the service to play Assassin's Creed Odyssey after January 15, but they'll get to keep the game on PC anyway.

Newest ‘Destiny 2’ raid already completed by two-person team

The latest raid in Destiny 2: Forsaken is Scourge of the Past, and a two-person team has already managed to complete it. The task took 15 hours of trial-and-error effort before the duo managed to take down the final boss.

The 25 best SNES games

The Super Nintendo Entertainment System might be the greatest game console ever made, but what are the best titles for the system? Here are our picks for the best SNES games, including A Link to the Past and Chrono Trigger.

Need a discounted Xbox bundle by Christmas? Walmart has you covered

Black Friday and Cyber Monday have both come and gone, but you can still save some cash on a new Xbox One bundle at Walmart. Both the Xbox One S and the Xbox One X are on sale now.

With our Steam guide, you can give the gift of gaming this holiday season

The holidays may have passed, but it's always a good time to give the gift of gaming (especially when there's a Steam sale)! Here's our quick guide on how to give a Steam game as a gift.

‘Fortnite’ update 7.10 brings a rotating selection of modes big and small

The latest update for Fortnite introduces 14 Days of Fortnite, an event that brings back large and small battle royale modes as well as brand new ones to enjoy during the holiday season.