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Coronavirus Could Kill Physical Media – and That’s a Good Thing

Last Updated September 23, 2020 1:47 PM
William Worrall
Last Updated September 23, 2020 1:47 PM
  • The Coronavirus Pandemic is shutting down stores all across the world, having a negative impact on physical game sales.
  • With these sales already on the decline each year, it seems likely that this pandemic could be devastating for physical formats.
  • By the time this pandemic is over physical gaming could be almost completely extinct.

The coronavirus pandemic is having far-reaching consequences. The severity of these consequences will likely not be clear until after the pandemic is over. A large part of the effect has been on how retail works. With so many stores closed, and postal services at breaking point, physical media is really hard to get your hands on.

With access becoming more and more difficult, it seems likely that the sale of physical copies will fall dramatically. Many people are being forced, or persuaded, to purchase digital copies to ensure they actually get them. Physical copies are declining year-on-year, and this pandemic might be the death blow.

physical sales charts
Even by 2015, the signs that physical games were dying were there. Now coronavirus might just kill it entirely. | Source: Game Industry.Biz 

Coronavirus Could Be the Final Nail in Physical Gaming’s Coffin

At the start of the year, physical sales had dropped considerably. In the UK the drop has been around 27% or around 17.6 million fewer copies sold . By 2017 alone the US physical game industry only accounted for around a quarter of all game sales .

It’s pretty easy to see that physical gaming is on it’s way out. Since coronavirus has made physical games even less convenient, it’s likely that they might just stop altogether. Especially with most of the stores that support physical copies closing down.

Not that die-hard hard-copy fans need to panic. Even if coronavirus does do damage physical copies, it’s likely that a niche market will still exist. Companies like Limited Run will almost always be around. Plus, it’s likely that expensive ‘special editions’ will still stick around.

If Physical Media Dies, Digital Gaming on Consoles Will Become Cheaper

Digital gaming has been popular on PCs for years, long before this new coronavirus pandemic. Part of the reason for that was Steam. It was the first storefront on PC that become really popular. Partially because of its great features and constant amazing sale prices.

While consoles have caught up a bit in recent years, they still haven’t managed to rival Steam’s great value. If digital gaming becomes the only option on consoles, as it pretty much has on PC, we’d better hope that low prices soon follow.

Whatever the case, we’d better be glad that coronavirus hit us at a time when digital gaming was so prevalent. Without the ability to buy games digitally we’d all have been way, way more bored during our self-isolation.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of CCN.com.