Game system competitors Sony PlayStation 5 on the left, Microsoft’s Xbox Series X on right. (Composite image made from Sony and Microsoft handouts) (Photo: Handout)
With many Americans stuck at home last year due to the pandemic, spending on video games hit a new record.
Total video game spending in 2020 reached $56.9 billion, up 27% higher than the previous year, according to research firm NPD Group.
Consumer spending last December, an important month for the industry with holiday shopping in full swing, reached a record $7.7 billion, a 25% increase from 2019.
Last year also saw the arrival of new video game hardware: Sony’s PlayStation 5 and Microsoft’s Xbox Series S/X. Both devices launched in November.
Mat Piscatella, executive director and video game industry adviser for NPD Group, said on Twitter spending in December “could have been significantly bigger” if not for constraints on the supply of PS5s and Xboxes.
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The consoles were hot holiday gifts last season but were also difficult to purchase as many retailers sold out immediately. The devices remain out of stock at several major retailers including Amazon and Target.
Despite the constraints, hardware dollar sales reached $1.35 billion last December, up 38% from a year ago, NPD said. It’s also the highest total for a December month since 2013, the same year the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One launched.
It wasn’t just PlayStation and Xbox consumers clamored to buy. The Nintendo Switch was the top-selling platform in 2020. According to NPD, dollar sales of Nintendo Switch hardware were the second-highest for an individual platform in a single calendar year ever, trailing only the Nintendo Wii.
First-person shooter “Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War” was the top-selling game last month and all of 2020. “Cyberpunk 2077,” which has faced backlash for a myriad of technical issues, finished second for December despite the lack of digital sales tracking, NPD said.
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