For the first time in the generation, digital software sales exceeded physical software sales in Sony’s latest earnings report. This means that more PlayStation 4 games were sold through the PlayStation Store than they were in brick and mortar shops around the world. While the result was likely influenced by the time period – more boxed copies are sold during the holidays than the spring, for example – the fact that the scales are finally beginning to tip is fascinating to see.
During the quarter which ended 30th June, the Japanese giant sold a dizzying 42.9 million pieces of PS4 software, and 53 per cent of them were purchased digitally. This data doesn't factor free downloads via PlayStation Plus, but obviously discounted games do contribute to the number – including those available for pocket change in various sales and promotions. It’s still impressive growth, though, when you consider that digital accounted for just 43 per cent during the same period last year.
In fact, other publishers are recognising the same trend. During its own Q1 financial report overnight, EA revealed that 47 per cent of its PS4 and Xbox One game sales were made digitally. This is up seven per cent year-over-year. So, while it’s going to take some time for physical to go away – the PlayStation 5 will have a disc drive at launch – it’s clear that we’re edging ever closer to a time where digital sales will wholly overtake their boxed counterparts.