The landscape of retail has changed dramatically in recent years, as traditional retailers have responded to the growth of e-commerce. At the forefront of the Internet shopping revolution is Amazon: The online marketplace was recently announced as the world's eight-largest retailer, and is easily the top Internet-based retailer in the world. While supermarkets like Walmart still have the edge over Amazon in terms of game sales, the online behemoth is slowly catching up.
Amazon recently announced its best-selling video games of 2016, and while the list is mostly reflective of trends seen throughout the gaming sector, a few contenders scored surprisingly low on the list.
Discounting peripherals, vouchers, and network subscriptions, Amazon's best-selling game of the year was Pokémon Sun for Nintendo 3DS, followed immediately by its partner release, Pokémon Moon. These latest instalments in the franchise introduced fans and first time players to the seventh generation of Pokémon, as well as a host of new features and radical game-play changes. This year, the franchise celebrated its 20th anniversary, and the long overdue overhaul is a welcome change to a once beloved formula.
Following those successful Nintendo entries is Final Fantasy XV for PlayStation 4, a technical marvel that promises to be a "Final Fantasy game for fans and first-timers". The game was preceded by the animated film Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV, which explores events in the world running parallel to those in the game. Uncharted 4: A Thief's End claims the next spot, followed by AAA titles such as: Madden NFL 17 (for both Xbox and PlayStation); The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim - Special Edition; Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare; FIFA 17; and Tom Clancy's: The Division.
The list is comprised mostly of AAA games, and there's a noticeable trend towards easily recognizable games ranking higher than others which were rated critically higher throughout the year. Blizzard's brand new IP, Overwatch was one of the most critically successful first person shooters of the year, but it failed to sell as well on Amazon as the latest annual release in the Call of Duty series. Similarly, Bethesda's spectacular Dishonored 2 appears as low as #85 on the list.
This correlation could simply be down to ease of access, considering the substantial benefits that Amazon often offers to its customers. Discounts against brick-and-mortar store prices, free deliveries, and simple pre-orders make shopping for in-demand and already popular games easier and cheaper than ever. Avoiding the queues and potential disappointment of annual release dates is enough to draw some customers to shop online.
The list is limited by the extent of Amazon's products, however, and there's a glaring lack of indie projects available on both the PlayStation Store and Xbox Marketplace. It's little surprise therefore that the top three best-sellers in the video games category were PlayStation store cards.