Take-Two: Expect digital game sales to grow

Game company's CEO expects revenue to be increasingly dominated by digital sales. That said, he doesn't expect the trend to hurt physical game sales.

Don Reisinger
Former CNET contributor Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.
Don Reisinger
2 min read

Take-Two Interactive expects digital game sales to grow at a rapid clip, the company's CEO said in an interview yesterday.

Speaking to Bloomberg Television, Take-Two CEO Strauss Zelnick predicts that overall digital game sales will account for up to 40 percent of the company's business within the next three years.

"I think you can see digital distribution to be 20, 30, 40 percent of our business," Zelnick told Bloomberg Television. "However, I believe our business is going to grow, so I don't think it actually takes a bite out of retail, and I doubt it takes a bite out of consoles."

Zelnick said that digital distribution accounts for "less than 15 percent" of Take-Two's current revenue.

The debate over whether digital or physical game sales are the future has been raging for years. But it's hard to turn a blind eye to the impact digital sales are having. Services like Steam are quickly appealing to customers who prefer digital downloads over buying physical titles. In fact, Steam's internal statistics claim that more than 1.9 million gamers have been online through its service in the past 48 hours.

Moreover, a recent study from the NPD Group found that customers are more likely to buy a digital game copy than a physical title. Over the first six months of 2010, 11.2 million digital PC games were purchased, while consumers bought just 8.2 million PC titles at retail.

Based on those figures, and the fact that digital game sales are becoming more important in the industry, NPD has gone so far as to no longer provide software unit sales in its monthly gaming industry sales reports.

NPD said that the "changing sales landscape" has made it more difficult to fully estimate game sales. Its reports now include a footnote that states all sales figures are based on physical sales alone.