Last month, Square Enix revealed that one-third of their videogame sales on dedicated gaming platforms comes from download sales. In a recent financial results briefing, company president Yosuke Matsuda elaborated further on this trend and how Square Enix plan on taking advantage of it.
Matsuda said that download sales are particularly prevalent in North America and Europe, with Steam and Amazon downloads becoming an increasingly common trend. In addition to those, Xbox Live and PlayStation Network download sales have also been strong. This, he noted, is important, because having games available for download online means that they don’t go out-of-print and are easier for consumers to access.
Additionally, having games available for download also means that Square Enix can sell their games directly to consumers without them being affected by the secondhand market, from which game publishers make no money. The most interesting point, though, is the following quote from Matsuda:
As we are trying to secure profit through utilizing stock of past titles, profitability of HD games must now also be considered over a certain time frame. It is not easy to recoup development costs solely by initial sales, however download sales will allow us to increase profit in a long tail manner.
Square Enix, like many other publishers, have come to understand the importance of their bigger games selling over a long period of time. This would explain the company’s recent interest in PC, with a number of its Japanese-developed games—including the Final Fantasy XIII series—being made available via Steam and other modern PC distribution services.
“Since the latter half of 2013, the Company has focused on download sales in Japan as well as in Europe and North America,” Matsuda said. “The percentage of download sales in Japan is still low, however we will enhance the Square Enix e-STORE to increase direct-to-customer ratio of not only game content, but also anime and merchandise.”