U.S. Video Game Sales Hit $43.4 Billion in 2018

Posted on January 23, 2019 by Paul Thurrott in Games with 9 Comments

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The market researchers at NPD announced this morning that the video game industry generated $43.4 billion in revenues in the United States in 2018, an 18 percent improvement over the previous year.

“2018 was another record-setting year for the U.S. video game industry as consumer spending jumped 18 percent to over $43 billion,” NPD’s Mat Piscatella says. “Whether it was playing on the go on a mobile device or at home on a PC or console, consumers of all ages and interests found compelling content that delighted in 2018. Console, PC, and mobile platforms all saw significant growth, while developing portions of the market like subscription and streaming services gave us a peek into a future full of possibilities for the industry and gamers.”

To be clear, this data is for the U.S. only, and some results—like the best-selling console, most notably—differ quite a bit from the worldwide picture. But here we go.

According to NPD, the Nintendo Switch was the best-selling video game console in the U.S. in 2018 as measured by both unit sales and revenue. The Switch beat all kinds of records in 2018: It achieved the highest annual unit sales and revenue of any console since the PlayStation 4 in 2015. And its December sales were the highest, revenue-wise, of any console since the Nintendo Wii in 2009.

As you might expect, the success of the Switch was tied to success in games, too: Super Smash Bros. experienced the best launch month of any console exclusive title in history, NPD says, and Switch titles accounted for 7 of the top 20 selling games of 2018 overall.

As for the Sony PlayStation and Microsoft Xbox One, both experienced year-over-year sales and revenue growth in 2018 as well. Sony’s console was obviously the number two finisher overall, but that’s all we know about these devices.

Looking at accessories and game cards, sales were up 33 percent YOY to $4.5 billion, a record. “Gamepad spending gains were the primary driver of the increase,” Piscatella says.  “The Nintendo Switch Pro Controller was [December]’s best-selling accessory in dollar sales.” The success of Fortnite also drove accessory sales, thanks to game card purchases used for in-game purchases, headsets, and controllers.

Software sales rose by 7 percent in 2018 to $7.1 billion. The best-selling games were Red Dead Redemption 2, Call of Duty: Black Ops 4, NBA2K19, Madden NFL 19, and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. But it’s likely that Black Ops 4 was really the overall best-seller since NPD didn’t count PC sales of that title for some reason.

NPD says that 150 million Americans play video games, making the U.S. video game industry one of the nation’s fastest-growing economic sectors.

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