SuperData, a Nielsen company, today is releasing its 2020 Year in Review report focusing on the health of digital games and interactive media market, the impact of COVID-19 on games and brands, and likely gaming trends in 2021. Overall, digital games alone earned $126.6B in 2020, up 12% year-over-year in a year where audiences were forced to stay home and interact remotely.
Digital games earned $11.5B in November 2020, the highest monthly revenue ever. Overall earnings were up 15% over November 2019. Mobile grew 9% while PC rose 22% to reach a new revenue record, which was driven largely by the release of World of Warcraft: Shadowlands.
Changes in consumer buying patterns led to a drop in Black Friday and Cyber Monday digital game revenue in 2020. Game spending is still on track for a record-breaking 2020 but consumer anticipation for next-generation consoles and the growing popularity of subscription services diminished the importance of the holiday weekend as a main revenue driver.
Consumers spent $10.6B on digital games in October 2020, up 14% year-over-year. Consistent with ongoing trends, console spending grew the fastest, with earnings up 18% over 2019. This was especially impressive growth given that Call of Duty: Modern Warfare launched in October 2019 and many of the biggest titles of the 2020 holiday season were not released until November.
The original Oculus Quest was the top-selling VR headset of Q3 2020, and sales are set to jump with the launch of the Quest 2. The device sold 161K units in Q3, though that number would have been higher if retailers had not run out of stock partway through the quarter as Facebook prepared to launch the Quest 2.
Digital games earned $10.7B in September 2020, up 14% year-over-year. Games earned more across all platform types than during the same period in 2019. Mobile revenue was up 9%, PC rose by 8% and console earnings increased 40% as major fall titles began to hit the market.
August digital games revenue totaled $10.8B, up 16% year-over-year. Digital console earnings grew the most and were up 88% compared to the same month in 2019. Revenue also rose by 15% on PC and 3% on mobile. Digital games have earned $82.8B through the first eight months of 2020, a growth of 13% from the same time span last year. Gaming revenue took off in March as COVID-19 lockdowns spread worldwide.
Ghost of Tsushima sold 1.9M digital units in July to become the fastest-selling new PlayStation IP. The game far outpaced the early sales of other new franchises launched on PlayStation 4: Horizon: Zero Dawn sold 1.9M units in its first two months on the market in early 2017, and Days Gone sold 1.3M units in its first two months after launching in late April 2019.
XR hardware and consumer software revenue is now projected to reach $6.9B in 2020, up from a prior estimate of $6.3B. Popular VR headsets were hard to come by in Q2 as COVID-19 disrupted supply chains just as consumer demand for in-home entertainment rose. Continued strong demand, combined with new headsets launching in the second half of the year like the HP Reverb G2, mean VR hardware earnings are expected to generate $2.5B in 2020 and rise slightly year-over-year.
Overall earnings were up 3% from May ($10.2B) and 9% over June 2019 ($9.6B). Both PC and console revenue were down from their 2020 peaks set in March. This was offset by growth in mobile revenue, which hit an all-time high. Mobile game spending typically sees a boost in the summer months, and this seasonal growth was likely further bolstered by the limited availability of other entertainment options due to COVID-19.
Digital games revenue totaled $10.2B in May, down 3% from April’s record-breaking total of $10.5B. Games continued their lucrative streak in May even though the month had few major game releases and an easing of COVID-19 lockdowns. Digital console revenue fell 27% from April to May due to fewer new releases, but a 3% growth in mobile earnings offset this gap.
Game spending totaled a record-breaking $10.5B in April 2020, showing the continued strength of the medium during the COVID-19 crisis. Lockdowns that began during March had an even greater impact on gaming habits in April as they continued for the entire month in many regions.