Ultra PC survey shows a quarter of all digital PC games go unplayed

Ultra, a complete PC gaming hub created by AAA talent from companies like Ubisoft, Playstation and Nintendo, today releases the full findings of its Ultra PC Gamer Study. They reveal that 24% of all digital PC games in gamers’ libraries have never been played, while 58% of PC gamers would sell their digital titles if they could.

The survey of 2,000 PC gamers across the US and UK reveals a desire for more flexibility in how they purchase, trade, and sell their digital video games. The secondary game marketplace, which gained popularity in playgrounds and workplaces during the CD-ROM era, contrasts with today’s digital landscape, where purchased game licenses are tied to a single account and often cost upwards of $70.

This cost may explain why 75% of respondents find AAA games too expensive, and only 36% of all digital games are purchased at full price. However, this perspective changes when gamers are given the option to resell their games: A staggering 64% of respondents would buy more AAA games at full price if they had the option to resell them later.

The findings also highlight how digital games are often neglected by players. Alongside the 24% that go totally unplayed, less than half (44%) of digital PC games are played regularly. Additional insights from the report include data on discoverability, the influence of reviews, preferred storefronts, and attitudes toward earning digital items and money whilst playing.

Nicolas Gilot, Co-CEO at Ultra, commented:

“Our research has shown that whilst PC gaming is far from broken, there’s clear room for improvement. Ultra has long held the belief that a digital secondary game marketplace can not only tackle the backlogs in gamers’ libraries, but also help developers and publishers sell more games, and unlock new revenue streams and ways to engage their communities. In late 2023 Ultra launched the first ever truly tradable digital video game, showing how the status quo in digital content ownership can be redefined.”

Key findings:

Secondary games marketplace: 58% of PC gamers would sell some of the digital games they own. 64% of respondents would buy more AAA titles at full price if they had the option to resell them later.

Regularity of play: Less than half (44%) of the digital PC games in gamers’ libraries are played on a regular basis; almost a quarter (24%) have never been played at all.

Price sensitivity: 75% find AAA titles too expensive. 87% said discounts and sales are important in their purchasing decisions, with only 36% of their games bought at full price. 32% are free-to-play, while 32% are discounted or bundled.

Indie Game Purchases: 75% of respondents buy digital indie games, with 33% liking the lower price point of indie games. Other reasons for indie purchases include creativity (40%) and wanting to try something new (39%).

Indie Avoidance: Of those not purchasing indie games, 41% say it’s because they don’t know if they will enjoy them, while 32% don’t have time to play multiple games at once.

Game Discoverability: 36% of respondents say it is difficult to find new games to play. 38% look to YouTube to find new games, while 34% rely on their friends. 18% use Steam to find new games, while 13% say they are most likely to discover new games on the Epic Games Store.

PC Stores: Steam remains the most popular storefront, beating Epic Games when it comes to preferred features. As for desired features, respondents were most likely to select a single profile connecting all the games, apps and sites they use (35%).

Digital Economy: 68% of respondents have bought some form of in-game content and 26% of PC gamers are interested in buying limited edition or unique in-game items.

Crypto Aversion: Despite there being an interest in earning in-game currency (34%) and real money (33%) whilst playing, only 18% are interested in earning cryptocurrency. Likewise, the third (33%) of respondents interested in earning limited edition items falls to 19% when those items are referred to as NFTs.

Ultra has been championing the return of a secondary games marketplace in digital form since 2017. Josh Journey: Darkness Totems was released as the world’s first tradable digital video game in December 2023, and can be purchased first or second-hand through the Ultra PC Gaming Hub.

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