NPD: July Video Game Sales Increased 10% to Record $4.6 Billion

Following a brief downturn in April, sales of video games, hardware and accessories rose 10% in July to a record $4.6 billion, compared with revenue of $4.18 billion in July 2020 at the height of the pandemic, according to new data from The NPD Group.

Spurred by greater availability of new-generation consoles from Microsoft and Sony, hardware sales skyrocketed 98% to $323 million — the best July sales tally since 2008. Hardware sales topped $161 million in the previous-year period. Year-to-date spending on consoles through July is up 50% to $2.7 billion from $1.81 billion in 2020.

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Game software sales rose 6% to $4 billion, from $3.7 billion in 2020. Year-to-date revenue rose 12% to $29.45 billion, from $26.29 last year. The top-selling game in July was Nintendo’s The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, followed by perennial chart topper Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War from Activision.

Total consumer spending on gaming for seven months reached $33.5 billion, up 14% from $29.38 billion during the same period last year.

PS5 Has Sold More Than 10 Million Units Globally

The PlayStation 5 (PS5) game console has sold through more than 10 million units globally since its Nov. 12, 2020, launch, according to Sony Interactive Entertainment.

The PS5 is the fastest-selling console in the company’s history and continues to outpace sales of its predecessor PlayStation 4 (PS4), according to SIE.

SIE also achieved additional milestones across its portfolio of PlayStation Studios games, including:

  • Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales from Insomniac Games has sold more than 6.5 million copies since releasing on Nov. 12, 2020.
  • MLB The Show 21 from San Diego Studio is the fastest-selling title in franchise history with more than 2 million copies sold across all platforms. The game has reached more than 4 million players since releasing on April 16, 2021.
  • Returnal from Housemarque  has sold more than 560,000 copies since releasing on April 30, 2021.
  • Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart from Insomniac Games has sold more than 1.1 million copies since releasing on June 11, 2021.

 

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“I can’t express enough the deep gratitude we feel for our passionate community of PlayStation fans who have embraced PS5, and the world-class development and publishing partners who bring such incredible gaming experiences to our platforms,” Jim Ryan, president and CEO of Sony Interactive Entertainment, said in a statement. “While PS5 has reached more households faster than any of our previous consoles, we still have a lot of work ahead of us as demand for PS5 continues to outstrip supply. I want gamers to know that while we continue to face unique challenges throughout the world that affect our industry and many others, improving inventory levels remains a top priority for SIE.”

Roku Dominates ‘March Madness’ Streaming

With the 2021 NCAA College Basketball National Championship Tournament, a.k.a. March Madness, readying for the Sweet 16 elimination rounds, sports fans are increasingly streaming games via standalone media devices and connected televisions. The opening round set new records with more than a billion minutes streamed across 32 games in just two days, according to new data from Conviva.

The tournament thus far reveals an ongoing trend streaming games on the big TV screen. Historically the first day of round one sees the most viewership. This held true this year as day one netted 15% more time spent streaming than day two, according to the report.

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Streaming on television increased significantly in the first two rounds to 68% share of time spent in round one, from 48% in 2019 and just 41% in the opening days of 2018. While streaming games on the PC lost market share, the increase in TV consumption comes primarily at the expense of mobile viewing, which decreased to less than half the share held during the previous March Madness. The report attributed this to the pandemic-trend of in-home viewing and the overall, multiyear trend of increased streaming via televisions.

More than 40% of the tournament thus far has been streamed on TVs through Roku devices, followed by Amazon Fire TV (26%), Samsung TV (10%), and Apple TV with 8% share. LG TV and Xbox each tallied 4% share, with Chromecast picking up 3%. Irvine, Calif.-based Vizio, Android TV, and PlayStation lagged behind the field with under 2% share of viewing time.

Conviva reported that social media engagements per post rose an average of 164% for teams in round one as compared to the regular season. Teams tallied 3 million total cross-platform engagements over just two days in the first round of the tournament, with Wisconsin, Syracuse, and Illinois taking the top three spots for total cross-platform engagements.

March Madness often vaults unexpected teams into national view. This year it’s Oral Roberts with 15 times the number of social media engagements per post versus the regular season, and leading in cross-platform, Twitter, and Instagram engagement rates.

NPD: January Video Game Sales Reached Record $4.7 Billion

Strong video game sales momentum continued into 2021 as consumers seek hard-to-get new-generation gaming systems from Sony PlayStation and Microsoft Xbox. Consumer spending across game hardware, content and accessories reached a record $4.7 billion, up 42% from $3.3 billion in the previous-year period, according to new data from The NPD Group.

Hardware sales totaled $319 million, up 144% from sales of $131 million a year ago. Accessories sales totaled $222 million, up 73% from revenue of $128 million. Software sales reached $4.17 billion, up 36% from revenue of $3 billion a year ago.

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Top 20 January physical and full-game digital games based on dollar sales:

Rank December 2020 Rank Title Publisher
1 1 Call of Duty: Black Ops: Cold War Activision Blizzard
2 3 Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla Ubisoft
3 4 Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales Sony
4 5 Madden NFL 21 Electronic Arts
5 6 Animal Crossing: New Horizons* Nintendo
6 7 Mario Kart 8: Deluxe* Nintendo
7 19 Ring Fit Adventure Nintendo
8 26 Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Activision Blizzard
9 11 Super Smash Bros. Ultimate* Nintendo
10 8 NBA 2K21* Take-Two Interactive
11 10 Super Mario 3D All-Stars* Nintendo
12 14 FIFA 21 Electronic Arts
13 9 Immortals: Fenyx Rising Ubisoft
14 20 Mortal Kombat 11 Warner Bros. Interactive
15 12 Just Dance 2021 Ubisoft
16 17 The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild* Nintendo
17 31 Minecraft: PlayStation 4 Edition Microsoft
18 2 Cyberpunk 2077* Warner Bros. Interactive
19 18 Super Mario Party* Nintendo
20 40 UFC 4 Electronic Arts
* Digital sales not included

 

Vudu Service Launches on PlayStation 5

Vudu, the transactional video-on-demand service owned by Fandango, is available on Sony Interactive Entertainment’s next-generation PlayStation 5 game console at launch Nov. 12, the company announced.

Vudu, which was already available on the PS4, offers more than 150,000 movies and TV shows, including thousands of titles in 4K.

“As longtime fans know, PlayStation consoles are not just for playing games; they’re one of the most widely-used media hubs and a popular way to stream entertainment content at home,” read a Fandango press release. “With Vudu on PS5, fans can watch more movies and TV shows from the comfort of their home with no subscription required.”

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“Vudu is focused on delivering fans the latest new-elease and premium event titles, as well as our comprehensive catalog of movies and TV shows, and we’re thrilled to offer all of that content on PS5 at launch,” says Kevin Shepela, EVP, chief commercial officer, Fandango. “It’s a great time for fans to find their favorites to stream on their consoles, as we head toward the holidays and our Thanksgiving week sales.”

New movies coming to Vudu this month include Come Away (Angelina Jolie, David Oyelowo), The New Mutants (Maisie Williams, Anya Taylor-Joy), The Personal History of David Copperfield (Dev Patel), Dreamland (Margot Robbie), along with thousands of films and TV shows on sale during Thanksgiving week and that are not yet available on subscription services.

Disney Offering ‘Mulan’ Access via Roku, Apple, Google Play

The Walt Disney Co. is a longtime champion of preserving the traditional theatrical window, eschewing industry efforts to push premium VOD in the home for new release movies.

As a result, the company’s decision to offer the live-action remake Mulan directly to consumers on Sept. 4 for $29.99 is a one-time bet requiring maximum distribution.

To that end, Disney will sell “premium access” to Mulan to Disney+ subscribers via Google Play, Apple and Roku. The move is significant considering that when CEO Bob Chapek first announced direct-to-consumer access to Mulan on the the company’s fiscal call, it was through Disney+ exclusively. Now Disney will share Mulan revenue with Apple, Roku and Google.

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The move suggests Disney might be having difficulty convincing Disney+ subs to directly purchase the film on its app.

“Starting Sept. 4, with Premier Access, you can watch Mulan before it’s available to all Disney+ subscribers,” Disney said in its FAQ section. “Disney+ will offer Premier Access to Mulan for $29.99 on DisneyPlus.com and select platforms, including Apple, Google and Roku. Once you have Premier Access to Mulan, you can watch as many times as you want on any platform where Disney+ is available. Your access to Mulan will continue as long as you are an active Disney+ subscriber.”

The movie thus far is not available through Amazon Fire TV, Sony PlayStation and Microsoft Xbox, despite the platforms affording access to the Disney+ app.

NAB Show to Bow ‘Streaming Experience’ Content Showcase

The NAB Show is introducing The Streaming Experience, a new content showcase curated by streaming and online video expert Dan Rayburn that will feature more than 50 OTT platforms and streaming devices.

The showcase, which will give NAB Show attendees a first-hand look at the latest streaming video services, according to organizers, will be located in the Central Lobby of the Las Vegas Convention Center and is open to all registered attendees during exhibit hours starting April 19.

The NAB Show takes place in Las Vegas April 18-22.

A living-room setting will allow attendees the opportunity to test OTT services side-by-side to compare content, video quality, ad formats, playback features and delivery methods. The Streaming Experience will feature hardware from Amazon, Apple, Roku, Xbox, PlayStation, LG, TCL and Samsung. Streaming services on display will include Apple TV+, Amazon Prime Video, CBS All Access, Disney+, Hulu, NBC Sports, Netflix and YouTube TV, among others. New services from HBO Max, Peacock and Quibi may also be showcased, dependent on their launch dates, according to organizers.

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“Streaming is a major focus of the 2020 NAB Show, and the new Streaming Experience is the largest showcase of its kind in the industry,” said NAB EVP of conventions and business operations Chris Brown in a statement. “We are excited for attendees to join their industry peers in this living room environment and experience nearly every live and on-demand streaming service on the market today.”

Additional details of the Streaming Experience, including renderings of the new space, can be found here.

 

Veronica Rogers Appointed SVP of Business Opps at Sony Interactive Entertainment

Veronica Rogers will oversee global business operations as the new SVP of business operations for Sony Interactive Entertainment, the company responsible for the PlayStation brand and family of products.

She will report to president and CEO Jim Ryan and will lead Sony Interactive Entertainment’s go-to-market organization globally. Rogers will help drive business growth, lead strategic initiatives, and evolve the culture of business operations from its previously regionalized structure into a single global system.

“Veronica brings a wealth of experience leading global sales organizations, managing strategic partnerships, developing innovative business models, and building world class teams,” said Ryan in a statement. “She will play a crucial role in scaling the business and I’m thrilled she has brought her expertise to the PlayStation family.”

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Rogers will be responsible for global alignment in sales operations, both physical and digital, as well as lead PlayStation subscription services. She has nearly 20 years of experience leading business development, strategic planning, and sales operations at large global organizations including Microsoft and Dell Technologies.

“The PlayStation brand is one of the most beloved in the world and I am excited to join a company that has such a passionate community, legendary history, and an amazing leadership team,” said Rogers in a statement. “My experience leading global sales organizations will help excel the PlayStation business and deliver the best gaming experiences to fans across the world.”

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Sony Interactive Entertainment (SIE) is responsible for the PlayStation brand and family of products and services. The 25-year-old PlayStation brand includes PlayStation 4, PlayStation VR, PlayStation Vita, PlayStation 3, PlayStation Store, PlayStation Plus, PlayStation Video, PlayStation Music, PlayStation Now, PlayStation Vue, and PlayStation software titles from SIE Worldwide Studios. The PlayStation 5 game system, which includes a UHD Blu-ray player, is scheduled to debut in the upcoming holiday season.

Sony PlayStation 5 Video Game Console Launching for 2020 Winter Holidays

Sony Oct. 8 disclosed its next-generation PlayStation video game console will be named PlayStation 5 and debut in time for the winter holidays in 2020.

Sony, which first announced the pending console in April, along with Microsoft’s Xbox, are integral to the success of the video game industry.

The 2020 debut means the gaming industry will likely see continued sluggish sales of hardware and new software as consumers await the updated consoles — both of which will still include disc drives.

Indeed, The NPD Group reported that overall game sales fell 18% in August to $666 million, compared with $812 million in the previous-year period. Through Aug. 31, total game spending for the year is down 6% to $7 billion, from $7.4 billion in 2018.

Regardless, Jim Ryan, CEO, Sony Interactive Entertainment, in a blog post said the PS5 would have several improvements, most notably in the controller.

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“We’re adopting haptic feedback to replace the ‘rumble’ technology found in controllers since the 5th generation of consoles,” Ryan wrote. “With haptics, you truly feel a broader range of feedback, so crashing into a wall in a race car feels much different than making a tackle on the football field. You can even get a sense for a variety of textures when running through fields of grass or plodding through mud.”

Ryan said the second innovation includes “adaptive triggers,”  which he said have been incorporated into the trigger buttons (L2/R2).

Specifically, game developers can program the resistance of the triggers so players feel the tactile sensation of drawing a bow and arrow or accelerating an off-road vehicle through rocky terrain.

“In combination with the haptics, this can produce a powerful experience that better simulates various actions,” Ryan wrote. “Game creators have started to receive early versions of the new controller, and we can’t wait to see where their imagination goes with these new features at their disposal.”

 

Competitors Sony and Microsoft Ink Entertainment Innovation Partnership

Sony Corp. and Microsoft Corp. May 16 announced that the two companies will partner on new innovations to enhance customer experiences in their direct-to-consumer entertainment platforms and AI solutions.

Under the memorandum of understanding signed by the parties, the two companies will explore joint development of future cloud solutions in Microsoft Azure to support their respective game and content-streaming services. In addition, the two companies will explore the use of current Microsoft Azure datacenter-based solutions for Sony’s game and content-streaming services.

“By working together, the companies aim to deliver more enhanced entertainment experiences for their worldwide customers,” read a joint press release. “These efforts will also include building better development platforms for the content creator community.”

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As part of the memorandum of understanding, Sony and Microsoft will also explore collaboration in the areas of semiconductors and AI. For semiconductors, this includes potential joint development of new intelligent image sensor solutions. By integrating Sony’s image sensors with Microsoft’s Azure AI technology in a hybrid manner across cloud and edge, as well as solutions that leverage Sony’s semiconductors and Microsoft cloud technology, the companies aim to provide enhanced capabilities for enterprise customers. In terms of AI, the parties will explore incorporation of Microsoft’s advanced AI platform and tools in Sony consumer products, to provide highly intuitive and user-friendly AI experiences.

“Sony is a creative entertainment company with a solid foundation of technology. We collaborate closely with a multitude of content creators that capture the imagination of people around the world, and through our cutting-edge technology, we provide the tools to bring their dreams and vision to reality,” said Kenichiro Yoshida, president and CEO of Sony, in a statement. “PlayStation itself came about through the integration of creativity and technology. Our mission is to seamlessly evolve this platform as one that continues to deliver the best and most immersive entertainment experiences, together with a cloud environment that ensures the best possible experience, anytime, anywhere. For many years, Microsoft has been a key business partner for us, though of course the two companies have also been competing in some areas. I believe that our joint development of future cloud solutions will contribute greatly to the advancement of interactive content. Additionally, I hope that in the areas of semiconductors and AI, leveraging each company’s cutting-edge technology in a mutually complementary way will lead to the creation of new value for society.”

“Sony has always been a leader in both entertainment and technology, and the collaboration we announced today builds on this history of innovation,” said Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft, in a statement. “Our partnership brings the power of Azure and Azure AI to Sony to deliver new gaming and entertainment experiences for customers.”