The COVID-19 pandemic continues to skew sales numbers across multiple industries.
Following several quarters of expected declines heading toward the launch of a new console generation, the U.S. video gaming industry had an unexpected rebound in the first quarter fueled by stay-at-home orders across the country. According to the Q1 2020 Games Market Dynamics: U.S. report from The NPD Group, overall consumer spending on video gaming in the U.S. spiked 9% over last year, reaching a record $10.86 billion in sales.
The majority of sales — $9.58 billion — came from video game content, much of which was delivered direct-to-consumer via digital storefronts with no need to step foot in a physical store. NPD says that the 11% increase compared to the first quarter of 2019 includes gains across digital console and PC content, mobile and subscription spending, in addition to hardware and accessories categories.
“Video games have brought comfort and connection to millions during this challenging time,” says Mat Piscatella, games industry analyst at The NPD Group. “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. Whether it was on console or mobile, PC or virtual reality, gaming experienced play and sales growth during the first quarter.”
While new systems such as the Xbox Series X and Playstation 5 are looming on the horizon, sales of Nintendo Switch hardware and software continued to grow, offsetting other declines and carrying the entire hardware side of the industry to a 2% increase.
Top games for the first quarter include Animal Crossing: New Horizons, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, DOOM Eternal, Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot, Fortnite, Grand Theft Auto V, Minecraft, MLB The Show 20, and NBA 2K20.