Australia's appetite for gaming is on the rise as PC, console and mobile gaming fans spend more and more to fund new hardware and games purchases. But the big winner in the games industry last year wasn't seen on a conventional store shelf, as digital sales outstripped traditional retail sales in bricks and mortar stores.
The findings come out of new research from the Interactive Games and Entertainment Association, which has conducted a major yearly review of how Australians are spending their money on gaming.
Regardless of where we're spending that cash, Australians are forking out AU$2.46 billion on gaming, with the biggest growth seen in digital subscriptions, mobile games and digital downloads. In fact, the only area to see a decline was off-the-shelf software, which dropped 5 percent to AU$615 million.
So while the biggest titles in 2014 were Watch Dogs and Destiny, Australians were more likely to be buying those games via a digital download -- an area of the market that grew by 25 percent in a single year to a value of AU$455 million.
That figure was almost matched by console sales in traditional retail, with retail stores bringing in AU$440 million on consoles, not including handhelds (up about a third on the previous year). That was driven largely by the new Xbox One and PlayStation 4, which were the best-selling consoles within the first 12 months of launch out of any hardware.
Although the traditional console format was still going strong in 2014, the area of gaming that saw the most growth was in mobile. Australians spent more money than ever on mobile games, notching up AU$703 million in digital sales -- more than a quarter of the value of the gaming industry as a whole -- the majority of which was generated through in-app purchases.
According to Foad Fadaghi, managing director at Telsyte, which conducted the digital gaming sales research for iGEA, mobile games are currently a major driver of the wider industry.
"In 2014, a number of factors improved the mobile gaming experience, including larger screen smartphones, faster graphics processing and wider availability of premium games and titles," he said. "Clearly tablet and smartphone gaming has gone beyond being just a casual gaming platform."