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PS4 Grew Sales 24% in August, Maintained Lead Against Xbox, Switch and PC

Source: https://trends.edison.tech/research/gaming-amid-covid-19.html

Xbox One saw its top month in August, while Switch sales remained stable.

Key Takeaways

  • Online spend the week of April 6, 2020 was 208% higher than the equivalent week in 2019.
  • XBox beat PS4 for growth in August, with spend increasing 35% over July.
  • Fortnite remains the top game in August, followed by Call of Duty: Modern Warfare.

COVID-19 and the lockdowns have led to a boom for the console and computer games industry as shown in our July Edison Trends report. With pre-sales for the new Playstation 5 and Xbox Series X consoles having already begun ahead of a November launch and anticipated wave of COVID-19 in Autumn and Winter, the upward trend in spend is expected by most to continue. To find out how consumer demand for gaming is evolving with the times, Edison Trends analyzed over 100,000 gaming transactions.

How has online spend on games and microtransactions changed in the last year?

Figure 1: Chart shows estimated year-over-year online spend on games and microtransactions across all platforms, comparing December 31, 2019 - September 8, 2019 vs. December 30, 2019 - September 6, 2020, according to Edison Trends. Note: The highest spend per week/year was set to 100, and all other values were scaled accordingly. Total spend (transactions) includes full game downloads, DLC, virtual currency, add-ons etc. This analysis was based on over 100,000 transactions.

At the beginning of 2020, YoY spend on games and microtransactions was slightly down. This changed the week of March 16, when spending shot up 78% over the previous week - which is, of course, when pandemic related lockdowns and shelter-in-place orders started. 2020 gaming spend peaked the week of April 6, when customers were spending 208% more than they had during the equivalent week in 2019. 2020 has continued to beat 2019 in spend, and as of the week of August 31, spend was 48% higher than it had been in 2019.

August was a big month for games in both years; between the weeks of August 10 and 31, 2020, spending rose 79%. This is similar to 2019, where the increase was 69% over the same time period.

How has online spend across gaming platforms been affected by COVID-19?

Figure 2a: Chart shows estimated weekly online spend by gaming platform for PS4, Xbox One, PC, and Nintendo Switch, from December 30, 2019 - September 6, 2020, according to Edison Trends. Note: The highest spend per week/vendor was set to 100, and all other values were scaled accordingly. Total spend (transactions) includes full game downloads, DLC, virtual currency, add-ons etc. This analysis was based on over 100,000 transactions. Note that the period of June 22 - July 12 is not present on this chart.

In our last report, we saw that in March Switch took the lead for a brief moment before returning back to 4th position in May. However, since that time, the four platforms have returned to pre-COVID-19 rankings, with PS4 in the lead, nearly reaching its early April peaks in spend volume. Looking at the month of August vs. July, both PS4 and XBox grew, at 24% and 35% respectively. As several popular games were released in that month, the rise cannot be attributed to any one game. It’s important to note that the Nintendo Switch has consistently been out of stock for months and often sells out within minutes of a restock.

Spend rose notably in August for three of the four platforms. The rise was driven in part by the releases of several popular games, such as Madden NFL 21 and Microsoft Flight Simulator. Between the week of August 10 and that of August 31, customer spending on PS4 games rose 114%. For PC the rise was 76%, and for XBox 65%.

Figure 2b: Chart shows estimated online spend by genre for the top five genres across PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC, from December 30, 2019 - September 6, 2020, according to Edison Trends. Note: The highest spend per week/vendor was set to 100, and all other values were scaled accordingly. Total spend (transactions) includes full game downloads, DLC, virtual currency, add-ons etc. This analysis was based on over 100,000 transactions.

Figure 2c: Chart shows estimated online spend by genre for the top 6-10 genres across PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC, from December 30, 2019 - September 6, 2020, according to Edison Trends. Note: The highest spend per week/vendor was set to 100, and all other values were scaled accordingly. Total spend (transactions) includes full game downloads, DLC, virtual currency, add-ons etc. This analysis was based on over 100,000 transactions.

Spending on the simulator category rose by 255% the week of March 16, when Animal Crossing: New Horizons was released. This allowed that category to briefly hop into first place, overtaking the popular shooter category, which by the week of March 3 had retaken top place and has mostly remained there. As of the week of August 31, however, it had slipped to fourth place, with adventure, sport, and simulator in the lead, thanks in part to the release of Madden NFL 21 and Microsoft Flight Simulator.

Puzzle games experienced an uptick in sales the weeks of March 16th and 23rd, briefly launching that genre to the sixth spot. Since then, it’s been a bit of a battle among Strategy, Puzzle, and RPG games as the three genres frequently trade sixth, seventh, and eighth spots.

What were the top selling games across gaming platforms in August?

Figure 3: Chart shows the top 10 games during August 2020, for the PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC. Note: Ranking of the top games for the last completed month by total spend, with change since previous month.

In the month of August, Fortnite remained the #1 game title in online spend across gaming platforms PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare continues to sit in second place, while Madden NFL 21 made its debut at #3, having been released on August 28. The Sims 4 came in at #4, up one spot from July, followed by Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War, NBA 2K20 (down 3 spots), NBA 2K21 (up 1 spot), PGA Tour 2K21, Marvel’s Avengers, and Microsoft Flight Simulator.

To learn more about the data behind this article and what Edison Trends has to offer, visit https://trends.edison.tech/.

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Founded in 1992 with the aim of accurately documenting import‐export transactions in the Americas, built and maintained by an international team, Descartes Datamyne today is a top‐ranked provider in the highly competitive US market for trade data.