September 21, 2010, 3:50 PM

Consumers turn to the web for their game purchases

For the first time, more computer games were purchased online than in retail stores.

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For the first time, more computer games were purchased via online downloads than in retail stores, according to new research from market research firm NPD Group Inc.

During the first six months of 2010, consumers purchased 11.2 million full-length PC games by downloading them through the Internet. Consumers bought 8.2 million computer games in stores.

While NPD Group says this is the first time that sales via digital download comprised the majority of total PC game sales, games sold at physical retailers continue to lead in share of revenue, capturing 57% of dollar sales, compared with 43% from digitally downloaded games. NPD attributed that to a higher average selling price at retail stores than for downloads, though the research firm did not provide detail on those prices.

Combined dollar sales of both digital and physical PC Games for the first half of this year, however, fell 21% compared with the same period last year and unit sales were down 14% compared with a year earlier.  NPD declines to provide specific figures.

"The overall decline of PC games when combining sales via both digital downloads and physical retail sales is impacted by the expansion of social network gaming as well as the continued expansion of free game options,” says Anita Frazier, an NPD analyst.

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