Editor’s note: Ryan Smith is a longtime gamer and freelance writer who lives in Raleigh, NC. A graduate of East Carolina University with a degree in business and marketing, he has written in the past for WRAL Tech Wire and GameArgus.com. He currently plays Xbox 360 and PC as well as Nintendo DS. For story ideas, tips and feedback, he can be reached via e-mail (ryannicksmith@gmail.com)

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. — DFC Intelligence, a video game and entertainment research firm, has released its newest report for the video game industry in which they predict a climb from $66.6 billion in sales last year to $81 billion by 2016.

The researchers predict that online sales, which includes PC, console and mobile games, is to grow from $19.3 billion in 2010 to $39.9 billion in 2016. This is fairly unsurprising, as mobile gaming has seen a huge increase of late due to the iTunes app store, the Android marketplace and other smart phones that make gaming on the go so easy.

Retail sales, however, are predicted to decline from 2008’s $58 billion to $43 billion by 2016. DFC predicts a steady decline in physical game sales at the same time as a steady increase in online game sales via Xbox live marketplace, the Playstation store, Steam and a myriad of other methods of downloading games digitally.

It is sad for me to see retail sales decline like this, but not at all unexpected. To me, the nostalgia of going to the game store to pick up a PC game – or sometimes console games – complete with beautiful box art, a game manual, jewel case complete with more art work and other goodies – was an important part of the gaming experience.

The instant gratification and ease of use of digital download purchasing systems like “Steam” is very nice in certain circumstances. I would rather have a box, jewel case and manual for my games, but when Steam puts up a collection of a game developer’s entire catalog for $50, it is hard to resist.

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