Another Sign that Videogame Sales are Going Digital: Prepaid Cards

How big is online or digital gaming becoming?

One indicator is the sales of prepaid gaming cards that are purchased at Walmart, Target, 7-11 and many other retailers.

While the game cards are typically purchased in person, they can be used for a range of things, from buying virtual goods within FarmVille  to buying a game that’s digitally delivered over the internet via Xbox Live.

Today, NPD released industry sales figures for February today, reporting that prepaid game cards now account for 22 percent of all accessories sold and that sales have increased 52 percent compared to a year-ago.

Meanwhile, in the same time period console software sales only increased by 2 percent.

NPD’s Analyst Anita Frazier said the jump in game card sales points to the increased importance of digitally distributed content sales within the games industry, and that last month marked the best February on record for accessory sales.

The top-selling item was the Xbox 360 1,600 points card.

Overall, NPD reported that physical retail channel in the U.S. generated video game hardware sales in February of $467 million, increasing 10 percent. Video game software, including console and portable totaled $601.4 million, dropping 5 percent, and video game accessories totaled $257 million, increasing 22 percent.

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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work