Video Game Industry Posts Record Q1 Revenue

The long-running video game sales slump is over. Gamers in the first quarter (ended March 31) spent a record $10.86 billion on hardware, software and accessories, according to new data from The NPD Group. That’s up 9% from $996 million in the previous-year period.

After months (if not a year or so) languishing, the games market got a boost when national and local governments mandated at-home quarantine measures to thwart the spread of the coronavirus. With millions of people limited to home entertainment, video game use/consumption spiked.

Software sales across all physical formats and digital increased 11% to $9.58 billion, from $8.63 billion last year. Ongoing strong sales of Nintendo Switch upped hardware sales 2% to $773 million, from $758 million.

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Top-selling titles in the quarter included Animal Crossing: New Horizons, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, Doom Eternal, and Grand Theft Auto V, Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot, Fortnite, Minecraft, MLB The Show 20 and NBA 2K20.

“Video games have brought comfort and connection to millions during this challenging time,” analyst Mat Piscatella said in a vlog post. “As people have stayed at home more, they’ve utilized gaming not only as a diversion and an escape, but also as a means of staying connected with family and friends.”

NPD: Disc Sales Boosted During Pandemic in Areas With Less Population

Less-densely populated regions in the United States, often with lower numbers of COVID-19 cases and less stringent stay-at-home policies, drove up DVD and Blu-ray Disc unit sales growth since the middle of March, according to data from The NPD Group.

Since the middle of March, video disc sales in the populous and hardest hit areas of New England and the Mid-Atlantic census divisions were down 2% and 3%, respectively, compared with average weekly sales in January and February. Comparatively, disc unit sales in less-populated areas with fewer than a million residents increased nearly two times faster than more densely populated areas.

During the period, disc sales were up 3% in the South Atlantic section, 5% in East South Central, 8% in the East North Central, 9% in the West North Central, 11% in the West South Central, 11% in the Mountain, and 2% in the Pacific.

“It’s very encouraging to see so much DVD and Blu-ray Disc sales activity happening in these regions, demonstrating consumers’ appetite for quality entertainment,” said NPD analyst John Buffone.

Since shelter-at-home orders were first announced in the United States, there has been a 72% increase in the number of Netflix subscriber profiles that were used to stream video each week. Residents in the Tri-State region of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, with some of the strictest shelter-at-home policies, spent significantly more time streaming on Netflix than the rest of the country, according to NPD.

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“While entertainment is not essential for survival, it’s still an essential way to stay sane, while people shelter at home,” Buffone said in a statement. “There have been notable streaming video preference shifts toward escapist titles and family programming that viewers are binging on to keep themselves entertained.”

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Using information from its Subscription Video Track service, NPD compared the Tri-State region with the remainder of the United States. While these two geographic areas experienced similar double-digit increases in the average number of weekly viewing profiles, there was a distinct difference in time spent streaming content from Netflix. In the Tri-State area, the average amount of time each Netflix profile was used to stream video on a weekly basis rose 37 percent after shelter-in-place orders were issued on March 21, which is 10 percentage points higher than the rest of the country.

NPD: DVD and Blu-ray Player Sales Jump in Pandemic

Consumers are getting physical.

Sales of DVD and Blu-ray players were both up 27% in unit sales for the week ended April 18 compared with same week a year ago, according to data from the NPD Group.

“Sales are up as consumers stay at home and look for multiple forms of entertainment,” said NPD analyst Stephen Baker. “These include DVDs and Blu-ray discs to entertain children while their parents are working, backup access devices if Internet access is challenged by streaming, or simply the consumers’ realization that they may need a physical disc player as an alternative to streaming and either they didn’t already have one or the one they do have needs an upgrade.”

Meanwhile, streaming player sales jumped 42%.

Overall, NPD-tracked U.S. Consumer Tech sales increased 23% year-over-year (29% week-over-week) during the week ended April 18 to nearly $1.8 billion. This topped the 21% increase tracked during the week ended March 21 sales spike.

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“We saw broad-based increases across almost all categories, unlike in March, when the work-from-home categories dominated,” Baker said.

TVs unit sales also jumped, exceeding 1.1 million units, the highest volume ever outside holiday, an 86% increase in units. Every TV size 32 inches and above had double-digit growth while 65 inch-and-above TVs were up 139%. Consumers also bought smaller sizes as 32-inch TVs, which declined by 15% over the first 10 weeks of 2020, increased by 40% over the last 5 weeks.

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Other strong categories included networking (70%), headphones (29%), printers (61%), DIY components (111%), PC microphones (147%), range extenders (173%), TV mounts (41%) and soundbars (69% in units).

NPD Shocker: Video Game Spending Skyrockets 35% in March

Apparently, all it takes is a pandemic to breath new life into the video game industry.

New data from The NPD Group found consumer spending on games, accessories and hardware jumped 35% to more than $1.5 billion in March compared to $1.1 billion in the previous-year period. It was the highest monthly increase since 2008.

The spending underscored the appeal of interactive entertainment to consumers while quarantined in the home due to local and statewide mandates, according to NPD.

The gaming industry has been in a protracted slump as gamers await new hardware consoles from Microsoft and Sony — both of which aren’t slated to arrive until late this year. With production in Japan halted due to the coronavirus, Sony reportedly is considering manufacturing fewer PS5 units for the winter holiday season launch compared for the 2013 debut of the PS4.

NPD: Video Game Sales Decline for Seventh Straight Month

Video game sales in February dropped 29% to $755 million from $1.06 billion in the previous-year period, according to new data from The NPD Group. Notably, the decline wasn’t just associated to hardware as console manufacturers ready next-generation device launches for the winter holidays.

Sales of new game software titles plummeted 36% to $307 million from $480 million last year. Hardware fell 34% to $183 million from $277 million.

As has been the case for the past year, Nintendo Switch was again the console sales leader in unit and dollar terms despite being down from last year. Microsoft’s Xbox Elite Series 2 Wireless Controller was the best-selling accessory.

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In a social media post, NPD analyst Mat Piscatella said the results were expected and indicative of ongoing industry trends.

“Lack of new releases always hurts, and the late cycle dynamics we’re seeing on hardware are what they are,” Piscatella tweeted. “Ring Fit Adventure [Nintendo] continues to climb, we’ll have to see if inventory challenges appear in the coming months.”

Other top-selling titles included No. 1 Call of Duty: Modern Warfare (Activision); NBA 2K20 and Grand Theft Auto V (Take-Two); Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot (Bandai Namco); Tom Clancy’s The Division 2 (Ubisoft Entertainment); Mario Kart 8 and Ring Fit Adventure (Nintendo); Madden NFL 20 (Electronic Arts); Super Smash Bros. Ultimate (Nintendo) and Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order (EA).

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NPD: Video Game Sales Fall for Sixth Consecutive Month

A lack of new-generation video game platforms again undermines software sales with January totals (from Jan. 5 to Feb. 1) down for the sixth straight month, according to The NPD Group.

With both Microsoft and Sony promising new consoles by the winter holidays, consumers have held off acquiring titles and hardware. In addition, increasing numbers of gamers are playing online further impacting the transactional side of the business.

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Total revenue in January fell 26% to $678 million, from $918 million in the previous-year period. Accessories and game cards revenue declined almost 12% to $238 million, from $268 million in the previous-year period.

Hardware revenue fell 35% to $129 million from $199 million with sales again driven largely by Nintendo Switch — as was the situation in 2019.

Software revenue plummeted 31% to $311 million, from $451 million last year.

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“Generally, we are very late into the cycle for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One consoles … although we are in line with January 2016 and January 2017 comps,” analyst Mat Piscatella said on a video blog post.

Piscatella said the software decline was expected in part due to the strong year-ago new releases of Kingdom Hearts 3 and Resident Evil 2, among other high-profile titles.

“So, it was a pretty jam-packed January [2019] slate,” he said.

Notable software seller: Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot, which was the third-highest launch sales in franchise history. Other top sellers included Call of Duty: Modern Warfare and Grand Theft Auto V.


NPD: Consumers Viewed 20 Minutes More Streamed Content Weekly on Netflix Last Year Than in 2018

Consumers watched about 20 minutes more streamed TV content per week on Netflix in 2019 than they did in 2018, according to research from The NPD Group.

Weekly time spent watching the Netflix and Hulu SVOD services rose 7%, growing from 3 hours and 45 minutes in 2018 to 4 hours and 6 minutes in 2019, according to NPD.

Even with new subscription video services launching, audiences are still finding content they want to watch on the major SVOD services they already have. In fact, 99.5 percent of consumers with subscriptions to Netflix and Hulu viewed at least one title in a given month in 2019.

“When people try new services, like Disney Plus or Apple TV Plus, very few are cutting back on the existing major platforms,” said Kathi Chandler-Payatt, NPD media entertainment industry analyst, in a statement.

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Original TV shows on Netflix made up more than 40% of all content watched by either kids or adults, compared to just 10% for Hulu Originals.

“This year will likely be the tipping point when more than half of Netflix content will be original,” Chandler-Payatt said in a statement.

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While action and adventure, family, animation and superhero movies are some of the top SVOD movie genres every year, in 2019 viewers added science-fiction dramas, courtroom dramas, and cyberpunk among other subgenres to the mix. Examples include “Annihilation” (sci-fi drama), “Primal Fear” (courtroom drama), and “The Matrix” trilogy (cyberpunk).

NPD: December Video Game Sales Fell 15%

As expected, sluggish video game sales declined for the fifth straight month, falling 15% to $2.98 billion from $3.5 billion in the previous-year period, according to new data from The NPD Group.

Hardware sales fell 17%, to $973 million from $1.17 billion. Software dropped 13% $1.14 billion from $1.31 billion. Accessories and game cards dropped 14% to $869 million from $1.01 billion.

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Overall, spending fell 13% to $14.6 billion from $16.78 billion. A dearth of new gaming consoles contributed to hardware sales plummeting 22% to $3.9 billion from $4.43 billion; software dropped 9% to $6.6 billion, compared to $7.25 billion; and accessories/game cards dropped 7% to $4.1 billion from $4.4 billion.

As has been the situation all year, Nintendo Switch was the best-selling hardware platform.

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Call of Duty: Modern Warfare topped the software dollar sales chart for the third straight month, and closed out as 2019’s top seller overall.

“That makes 11 straight years that the Call of Duty franchise was the year’s best seller,’ analyst Mat Piscatella said in a statement.

Meanwhile, Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order finished No. 2; Madden NFL 20 (No. 3) and No. 4 NBA 2K20. No. 5, Luigi’s Mansion 3; No. 6, Pokemon Sword; No. 7, Mario Kart 8; No. 8, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate; No. 9, Pokemon Shield; No. 10, Minecraft.


NPD: October Video Game Sales Fail to Beat Last Year’s Record

Sales of video games and hardware in October topped $1 billion, which was down 34% from last year’s record $1.57 billion month, according to new data from The NPD Group.

The tally was still the second-best October in past 10 years, and a positive for an industry undergoing change in how consumers acquire and play games.

Indeed, console sales continue to struggle as consumers await new editions slated to begin launching a year from now.

Hardware revenue plummeted 41% to $182 million from $308 million last year, while software revenue fell 37% to $620 million from $984 million. Accessories and game card sales dropped 16% to $231 million from $275 million.

“Year-to-date spending across tracked video game hardware, software, accessories and game cards has fallen 10% [to $9.3 billion] when compared to October 2018,” analyst Mat Piscatella said in a videoblog post.

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Call of Duty: Modern Warfare (Activision) topped software sales, besting The Outer Worlds (Take Two) and Luigi’s Mansion 3 (Nintendo). Modern Warfare has become the top-selling title in 2019.

“This is the 12th consecutive year a ‘Call of Duty’ game has ranked as the best-selling game of its release month,” Piscatella said. “‘Call of Duty’ remains the best-selling video game in U.S. tracked history by dollar sales.”

NPD: September Video Game Sales Drop 8%

Sales of video game hardware and software continued their monthly decline, with September revenue down 8% to $1.27 billion compared with $1.39 billion from the previous-year period, according to new data from The NPD Group.

“Year-to-date spending across tracked video game hardware, software, accessories, and game cards has fallen 6% when compared to 2018, to $8.3 billion,” analyst Mat Piscatella said in video blog. “Declines in hardware spending have driven the decrease.”

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Indeed, sales of game consoles and handheld devices plummeted 22% to $240 million from $307 million last year. Hardware sales continue to be negatively impacted by Microsoft and Sony not releasing new edition consoles until the 2020 winter holidays.

Software sales dropped 4% to $732 million from $761 million in 2018. Accessories and game cards fell 7% to $308 million from $328 million last year.

Top-selling titles in the month based on revenue (not units)

  1. NBA 2K20
  2. Borderlands 3
  3. FIFA 20
  4. The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening
  5. Madden NFL 20
  6. Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Breakpoint
  7. Gears 5
  8. Code Vein
  9. NHL 20
  10. Mario Kart 8
  11. Minecraft
  12. Grand Theft Auto V
  13. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
  14. Spyro Reignited Trilogy
  15. Red Dead Redemption II
  16. Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six: Siege
  17. Plants vs Zombies: Battle For Neighborville
  18. Marvel’s Spider-Man
  19. Catherine
  20. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild