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NPD Reveals Stats On Digital Distribution's Growth

The NPD shares stats on digital distribution usage, showing, among other things, the number of gamers subscribing to a download service up 18 percent year over year -- Xbox Live Gold subscriptions are growing faster than that.
Microsoft recently announced that its 20 million Xbox Live userbase has downloaded over 1 billion pieces of content. Now, new NPD data reveals that just 18 percent of the service's Gold members download content regularly. Between 2008 and 2009, the number of Xbox Live Gold subscribers increased by 24 percent. Although the PlayStation Network service is free to PS3 owners, a smaller portion -- 10 percent -- of its userbase regularly download content, according to the NPD. Xbox Live Gold's growth rate apparently outpaces the overall adoption rate for download subscription services. The number of gamers subscribing to a game download or online rental service, according to NPD, has grown 18 percent between 2008 and 2009 -- one in five gamers now has a subscription to one. In an environment where the PC gaming business looks to its digital distribution infrastructure to improve sales and to allow it a platform advantage, adoption is far from widespread. The NPD says that 17 percent of PC game purchases are digital rather than boxed. More than half, or 56 percent, of digital game sales come from just three channels between July and December 2008: Steam, Bigfishgames and RealArcade. Notably, the NPD didn't quantify what constitutes "regularly" nor reveal the size of its study sample.

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