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Market Share for PC Digital Distribution Platforms 2011 (based on unique users)

A study conducted by Deals4Downloads.com revealed a strong growth of the digital games distribution market of more than 200 percent. While market leader Steam sees substantial growth, it still loses market shares to newcomers like Amazon and Gamestop.

This is an update to a similar research I did a couple of months ago. While I wasn't particularly happy with the quality of information and methodology used for the last study - measuring and comparing unique visitors of each download shop - it still seems to be the only available source of publicly available information.

Our findings

Digital Distribution Market has grown by 220%
This growth is attributed mainly to an increasing shift from physical to digital distribution. Additionally, traditional retail players like GameStop or Microsoft are making increasingly aggressive moves toward the new digital market. The biggest new entry to the digital market though is Amazon. As you can see Steam also can boast a dramatic increase in unique visitors.

Estimated Unique Users of Digital Distribution Platforms 2011

*Estimation based on internal tracking
**Estimation based on publicly available usage data and internal tracking
***EA is also selling physical  product in it's online store. Assupmtion is that a third is sold digitally.
****Includes only the download to own shop: www.gametap-shop.com

Steam shows substantial growth but loses market shares to strong newcomers
While Valve's digital distribution platform still holds a comfortable 55% of the market Amazon, GameStop and Microsoft grabbed 10% each on market entry.
Here is another diagram comparing market shares from April 2010 and April 2011. Note the number and growth of new contenders in the digital market including Amazon, GameStop, Microsoft and EA.
Estimated Market Shares of Digital Distribution Platforms 2011

Indies still grow both in unique users and numbers
Most existing independents like Direct2Drive (+34%), GamersGate (+63%) or Good Old Games (+54%) managed to grow despite this market shake-up. New to the market: Desura, GreenManGaming, and Beamdog.

The biggest losers, including Bestbuy, Alienware, or Xfire seem to be download shops that didn't manage to find a unique positioning or failed to address the increasing price pressure due to growing numbers of download deals. At deals4downloads.com we saw an increase of deals for digitally distributed games by a factor of 10! Bestbuy's digital distribution service has all but vanished.

Methodology and Limitations
While I tried to improve aspects of it the general methodology didn't change: Unique visitors are the core metric, assuming that the more people visit a store the more people buy at that store. This obviously is not perfect since we don’t know how well the individual shops convert visitors to actual sales. Users can access some download shops via a desktop client. This year we applied a factor of 2 for those shops.
Other download shops like Amazon are difficult to analyse since they don't use unique domain names. Here we used our internally tracked data from deals4downloads.com for estimations.

More details and graphics can be found in our blog.

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