Digital Game Revenues Hit $5.9 Billion in 2010

E3 is is like Disneyland with a flame thrower.

Put on a pair of 3-D glasses, listen to the bombs exploding in the distance, or stand in line for hours to get a glimpse of Call of Duty Modern Warfare 3.

Traditionally, the event has been all about videogame makers outdoing one another to ensure shelf space at the major retailers, like Target, Wal-Mart and GameStop. But increasingly the conversation is also about something that takes up absolutely no space at all: digital games.

Maybe to the surprise of many of the 45,000 people in attendance this week at E3, it’s the intangible stuff that’s driving much of the industry’s future.

The Entertainment Software Association, which organized the 17th annual event, released results of a study saying that the format and demographic make-up of gaming are changing.

It said that purchases of digital full games, digital add-on content, mobile apps, subscriptions and social network gaming accounted for 24 percent of game sales in 2010, generating $5.9 billion in revenue.

Other findings:

  • The average game player is 37 years old, while the average game purchaser is 41 years old;
  • Sixty-five percent of gamers play games with other gamers in person;
  • Fifty-five percent of gamers play games on their phones or handheld devices;
  • Consumers spent $25.1 billion on game content, hardware and accessories in 2010.
  • Forty-two percent of gamers are women, and women 18 or older make up more than one-third of gamers.

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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