NPD: December Video Game Revenue Skyrocketed 25%; Yearly Revenue Reached Record $57 Billion

The pandemic and new game systems helped drive December video game revenue to $7.7 billion, up 25% from $6.1 billion during the previous-year period. 2020 also set an all-time high in revenue with $56.9 billion, an increase of 27% from $44.3 billion in 2019, according to new data from The NPD Group.

The November launches of PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X and Series S consoles contributed to hardware revenue jumping 38% to $1.35 billion from $978 million last year — the highest hard ware sales in eight years. The tally almost equaled $1.41 billion in hardware sales in 2019.

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While Sony and Microsoft hardware get the headlines, it was Nintendo’s Switch that quietly proved to be the best hardware seller throughout 2020 when it comes to unit sales and revenue. NPD said 2020 Switch sales were the best for a hardware device since the Nintendo Wii in 2008.

Accessories revenue spiked 15% to $546 million from $475 million last year. Accessories totaled $2.6 billion in 2020, up 21% from $2.14 billion in 2019. Sony’s DualSense Wireless Controller was the best-selling gamepad, while Turtle Beach’s Ear Force Recon 70 Gaming Headset Black for Xbox was the best-selling headgear.

Software sales in December rose 23% to $5.8 billion from $4.71 billion in 2019. Full-year sales jumped 26% to $48.98 billion, compared with $38.8 billion a year ago.

The top-selling title in December and 2020 was Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War (Activision), followed by Call of Duty: Modern Warfare and Nintendo’s Animal Crossing: New Horizons.


LG Electronics Announces Gaming Pact With Google Stadia

LG Electronics is adding Google’s online gaming platform Stadia to its line of webOS smart televisions rolling out later this year. The deal — announced at the virtual CES 2021 — will enable smart TV owners access to popular games such as Cyberpunk 2077, NBA 2K21, Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla and Watch Dogs: Legion on their TV using the Stadia controller and without a requisite separate game system.

Stadia, which streams games directly to a desktop, laptop, cell phone, tablet or TV, is part of a growing wave of streaming-based platforms such as Nvidia’s GeForce Now, Microsoft’s xCloud and Amazon’s Luna looking to circumvent traditional game systems and offer content directly to consumers through CE devices.

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“Supporting Stadia on LG TVs is our commitment to customers that gaming is an increasingly important feature expected by LG TV owners,” Lee Sang-woo, SVP of at LG Electronics Home Entertainment Company, said in a statement. “Stadia is changing how people access their favorite games and by providing webOS compatibility, we’re making an early commitment to the platform.”

Stadia offers more than 130 games, with titles available individually or through a subscription to Stadia Pro.


‘Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV’ Coming to 4K UHD March 30 From Sony

Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV will come out on 4K Ultra HD March 30 from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

In the film, the magical kingdom of Lucis is home to the sacred Crystal, and the menacing empire of Niflheim is determined to steal it. King Regis of Lucis (Sean Bean) commands an elite force of soldiers called the Kingsglaive. Wielding their king’s magic, Nyx (Aaron Paul) and his fellow soldiers fight to protect Lucis. As the overwhelming military might of the empire bears down, King Regis is faced with an impossible ultimatum — to marry his son, Prince Noctis, to Princess Lunafreya of Tenebrae (Lena Headey), captive of Niflheim, and surrender his lands to the empire’s rule. Although the king concedes, it becomes clear that the empire will stop at nothing to achieve their devious goals, with only the Kingsglaive standing between them and world domination. Based on the iconic game, which has sold nearly 9 million copies worldwide since its launch.

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Extras include “A Way with Words: Epic and Intimate Vocals,” in which Aaron Paul, Lena Headey and Sean Bean — along with the filmmakers — reveal the process of creating the vocals for this film; “Fit for the Kingsglaive: Building the World,” an in-depth exploration of imagining and designing the world of the film;  “To Capture the Kingsglaive: The Process,” exploring the intricate process of capturing the physical performances at the heart of this computer-generated film; and “Emotive Music: Scoring the Kingsglaive,” about the creation of the score.

NPD: New Consoles Drive 35% Increase in November Consumer Video Game Spending

Spurred by a record $1.4 billion in hardware spending on new-generation consoles, November video game spending increased 35% to a record $6.97 billion, according to new data from The NPD Group. Sales of Microsoft Xbox Series X and Series S units, coupled with PlayStation 5, upped hardware sales 58% from $886 million from the previous-year period.

Hardware sales through 11 months approached $4 billion, up 34% from last year. Accessories increased 8% to $314 million, from $290.7 million. Year-to-date, accessory sales are up 22% to $2.07 billion, from $1.69 billion, driven by Sony’s DualSense Wireless Controller.

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Software revenue increased 32% $5.24 billion, compared with $3.96 billion last year. Year-to-date revenue is up 21% to $38.4 billion, from $31.73 billion. Activision’s Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War was the top-selling title of the year, marking 13 straight years the franchise has topped annual software sales.

Through 11 months of the year, total video game spending is up 22% to $44.5 billion, from $36.47 billion last year.


GameStop Explodes Q3 Online Sales, Narrows Loss

GameStop, the world’s largest video game retailer, Dec. 8 reported a 30% decline in third-quarter (ended Oct. 31) revenue to $1 billion, from $1.4 billion during the previous-year period. Same-store sales from about 2,000 stores dropped 24.6%, due in part to a 11% decline in stores operating.

GameStop attributed the declines to a seven-year gap in new game consoles, coupled with the ongoing pandemic and mandated store closings earlier this year. The chain saw a 257% increase in global e-commerce sales, representing more than 18% of total net sales and nearly 25% year to date. Due to reduced operations and overhead costs, the retailer narrowed its net loss nearly 78% to $18.8 million from a net loss of $83.4 million.

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“We begin the fourth quarter with unprecedented demand in new video game [PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X and Series S] consoles that launched in November, which drove a 16.5% increase in comparable store sales for the month, despite being closed on Thanksgiving Day and the impact of [pandemic] related store closures, which affected most of our European footprint,” CEO George Sherman said in a statement.

CFO Jim Bell anticipates, for the first time in many quarters, that the current fourth quarter will include positive year-on-year sales growth and profitability, reflecting the introduction of new gaming consoles, elevated omni-channel capabilities and continued benefits from cost and efficiency initiatives.

“Over the past 18 months, we have remained steadfast in focusing on creating a more efficient business model,” Bell said. “These efforts, despite the impacts of a global pandemic, have led to a stronger balance sheet.”


PlayStation 5 Review: New Console Takes Gaming to Next Level, But Good Luck Finding One

Sony’s PlayStation 5 was officially released to retail on Nov. 12 at $499 (with physical disc capability) and $399 (digital only) — and it’s been in short supply ever since. As far back as September, TechSpot reported that retailers had sold out of their pre-order allotments in less than 24 hours, and predicted the video game console — the first new PlayStation since 2013 — would become “a scalper’s paradise.” That’s precisely what’s happened, with gamers shelling out twice the retail price, or even more, on auction sites such as eBay and StockX.

I was one of the lucky ones, alerted via Twitter of a “restock” at GameStop and on Nov. 28 becoming the proud owner of one of the coveted machines.

The PlayStation 5 boasts an incredibly fast SSD, allowing for faster loading times when either playing games or watching movies. It can stream Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, NFL,  Disney+, Twitch, YouTube and AppleTV, as well as Blu-ray DVDs and video games. While the layout is similar to the PS4, the PS5s 4K and HDR capabilities, along with the new DualSense controller, truly have taken the PlayStation experience to the proverbial next level.

On the front you’ll find the HD Blu-ray optical drive, a typical USB Type-A port, and a USB Type-C port, as well as the power button and eject button. On the back there’s the power connection, an HDMI 2.1 out, two USB Type-A ports, and an Ethernet port. When you plug in your new DualSense to the front USB port, you might notice a few things are new with the controller.

Haptic feedback refers to any technology that can create an experience of touch to the user by applying forces, vibrations, or motions. Sony’s decision to integrate it into the new DualSense controller allows gamers to now experience the game in a much more immersive way. A pistol will have less recoil than a machine gun, and gamers will be able to feel the difference. Along with this comes the addition of adaptive triggers, which give resistance on the R1/R2 buttons in a way that mimics what is on screen. It is a very welcome addition to the controller, and I had fun playing the preloaded game Astro’s Playroom at the main menu.

Once the PS5 is booted up and your account is set, you might notice the “Playstation Plus Collection” in the store. This entails 20 free hit PS4 games, but is only available if you are subscribed for Playstation+, which will cost $60 per year. Along with this collection, you will notice several new features — you will be able to customize the apps on your home screen, play videos or music in the background, receive ads based on the media you consume, adjust profile settings and more. And that is just the start of the PlayStation 5 experience.

NPD: October Video Game Sales Up 14%

Ahead of new-generation video game console launches, consumers spent big in October on hardware, software and accessories, according to new data from The NPD Group. Total revenue spiked 14% to $3.84 billion, from $3.37 billion during the previous-year period. Through 10 months of the year, game spending topped$37.5 billion, which is 20% higher than the same period in 2019.

Despite Sony and Microsoft launching new consoles this month for the first time in seven years, hardware spending in October increased 41% to $259 million, compared with $183.6 million last year. Nintendo again dominated hardware sales thanks to its Switch platform. Year-to-date hardware sales are up 23% to $2.5 billion, from $2 billion last year.

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“Mobile, subscription, hardware and accessories were among the largest growth segments,” analyst Mat Piscatella said in a statement.

Indeed, accessory revenue climbed 23% to $148 million, from $120 million — driven in part by sales of the Xbox Elite Series 2 Wireless Controller. Spending through 10 months is up 25% to record $1.8 billion, from $1.44 billion.

Content spending in October  — driven by EA’s soccer-themed FIFA 21 jumped 12% to $3.43 billion, from $3.06 billion, bringing year-to-date spending to $33.2 billion, up 19% from $27.89 billion a year ago. The title passed EA’s perennial chart topper Madden 21.

“Nine of the top 20 best-selling titles of October were published by Nintendo,” Piscatella said.

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.

Sony PlayStation 5 Launches With 4K UHD Blu-ray Disc Drive

Sony Interactive Entertainment’s much anticipated PlayStation 5 video game system launches today (Nov. 12) in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand, Japan and South Korea. The global rollout commences on Nov. 19 with bows in EuropeMiddle EastSouth AmericaAsia and South Africa.

The PS5 Digital Edition retails for $399.99 and the PS5 with an Ultra HD Blu-ray disc drive retails for $499.99.

4K Movie Essentials

Both PS5 models use the same custom processor with integrated CPU and GPU for high-fidelity graphics up to 4K, as well as the same SSD with integrated I/O that promises ultrafast loading. Both models also offer a deepened sense of immersion through the DualSense wireless controller and 3D audio capabilities, so players can experience the same transformative gameplay regardless of which PS5 console they choose.

In coordination with the PS5 launch, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment is re-releasing on Dec. 1 select movies in 4K UHD Blu-ray — dubbed “4K Movie Essentials” — targeting PS5 gamers. Titles include: Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse; Spider-Man: Far From Home; Venom; Baby Driver; Bad Boys for Life; Bloodshot; Zombieland: Double Tap; The Fifth Element; Underworld; Pineapple Express and Hellboy.

PS5 compatible games at launch include: Devil May Cry 5 Special Edition (Capcom); Final Fantasy XVI (Square Enix); Five Nights at Freddy’s Security Breach (Steel Wool Studios and ScottGames); Hogwarts Legacy (Warner Bros. Games); A new “God of War” title (Santa Monica Studio); Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales, Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War, and Demon’s Souls, among others.

The NPD Group: Q3 Video Game Spending Hits Record High

Despite missing out on new-generation video game consoles coming out this week, new data from The NPD Group found that third-quarter (ended Sept. 30) consumer spending on video games hit an all-time quarterly high of $11.2 billion, which was up 24% from $9.03 billion in the previous-year period.

The tally was down $400 million, or 3.5%, from Q2, but up $300 million, or 2.7% from Q1 — with both quarters setting respective revenue records year-over-year.

After more than a year of declining revenue, the video game industry fortunes have skyrocketed in 2020 — largely due to stay-at-home gamers during the coronavirus pandemic.

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Console sales (excluding PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X and Series S) increased 16%, while sales of headsets, controls, gamepads and related accessories increased 35%.

Video game software sales shot up 24% to $10.04 billion from $8.38 billion driven by mobile and subscription spending, in addition to game downloads.

Top-selling games included Among Us, Animal Crossing: New Horizons, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, Fortnite, Ghost of Tsushima, Madden NFL 21, Marvel’s Avengers, Minecraft, NBA 2K21, Paper Mario: The Origami King, Super Mario 3D All-Stars and Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2.

“We continue to see more video game players, playing for more hours, across more devices,” analyst Mat Piscatella said in a statement. “We can anticipate another record-breaking quarter in Q4, in large part due to PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series consoles entering the market with one of the fastest-selling consoles in U.S. history, the Nintendo Switch.”