Which would you rather purchase?
Discussion brought to you by the ongoing debate on MoP sales.
It's good that the industry is no longer quoting one single source of information.
Previously Lazard Capital was quoted as saying that the initial retail sales of 700k for MoP were disappointing, and even if digital sales were to be included, the total figure would still be lacklustre.
That said, to make up this kind of shortfall - over 2.5 million units difference between the expansions, assuming the 700,000 Pandaria figure is correct - digital would have to have become the primary means of selling product. Digital is certainly important; a 57% increase in digital sales was responsible for Blizzard's profits bump in the third quarter 2011. But if, for the sake of discussion, digital sales brought Pandaria to exactly the same sales level as Cataclysm, then retail would be just a little over 21% of total sales. Even given the growth of digital since 2010, that result doesn't seem likely.
Now Brean Murray, Carrett and Co gives a more optimistic forecast:
They see one million year long subscriptions purchased as part of the Diablo 3 bundle as a good sign, and they believe that even with retail sales down, digital copies will move far more quickly, and have a better profit margin by cutting out the middleman. They predict 4.5M units of Mists of Pandaria will be sold in the third quarter.
After reading both sides, I think the crux of the matter is in the ratio of digital sales to retail sales, ie what percentage of sales is made through retail, and what percentage through digital?
The reason they have conflicting forecasts is because they are making different assessments of what this ratio will be.
Just to put things in perspective:
For MoP to match Cata with their retail sales, they would need to have 80% of their entire sales made through digital channels, ie for every 5 games sold, 1 person is buying the box, 4 people are buying online.
I prefer digital sales myself, and I think digital sales is catching on. But to have it constitute as much as 80% of all your sales? Do you think it's possible?