While Anthem is definitely having its problems - even its publisher EA said in a recent financial call that it "underperformed" - it's not been an outright failure for the company. In fact it's helped EA break internal records for digital sales. EA is reporting that in the last financial year 49% of the games it sold were digital copies.
The past decade has seen digital sales creeping ever higher, with places like Steam, Xbox Live, and the PlayStation Store becoming better places to shop. But physical sales have still had the edge. This is particularly the case with a publisher like EA, who makes a considerable amount of its money from sports games. They're the sort of annual release where a large portion of its player base pick them up at supermarkets and high street stores. It's why whenever a new FIFA is released it goes straight to the top of the UK charts (which only track physical sales).
However, in a recent financial call, EA revealed that this year has been its best year for digital sales ever, and that it's in large part thanks to Anthem.
"Full game PC and console downloads generated net bookings of $213 million, 10% higher than last year," chief financial officer Blake Jorgensen said on the call. "Growth was driven by the launch of Anthem and by the ongoing shift to digital. Overall, 49% of our units sold through were digital rather than physical." Jorgensen added that "judging from sales so far" Anthem "is the most digital game we have ever launched".
EA also made more money through online sales of DLC and microtransactions than previous years, and that's down to Apex Legends. The free-to-play shooter shot up the charts and the launch of its season pass means a lot of those free players were converted into paying customers.
What does this all mean for us as players? Well, for the moment things will not change all that much, but you can see the effect of a more digital-savvy market in Microsoft's recently revealed all-digital Xbox One S. What would disappear with physical games is the second hand market. So that's the long-term. The next generation of consoles is likely to ship with disc drives, but I wouldn't be surprised if those are followed within a year by a disc-driveless version, that is slightly smaller and cheaper.Are you ready to give up physical games? Let us know on Facebook and Twitter.
Featured Image Credit: EA