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

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

Nintendo Unveils Its Mobile First Vision for the Future Video Games

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.

Join the discussion!

BECOME A THURROTT MEMBER:

Don't have a login but want to join the conversation? Become a Thurrott Premium or Basic User to participate

Register
Comments (9)

9 responses to “U.S. Video Game Sales Hit $43.4 Billion in 2018”

  1. Avatar

    lvthunder

    Wow. That's a lot of money. No wonder Netflix said Fortnight was its biggest competition.

  2. Avatar

    Bats

    I have said this before and I'll say it again....


    The Xbox One X clearly failed.


    In a way, I'm sorta surprised by the stat. Then again, I'm not. This is tremendously bad news for Microsoft and Xbox. I wanna say that I have been right all along, but I want to stay a little humble and conservative here when I say "See....I told you so." The Xbox One X was clearly not a game changer nor can anyone say that a moral victory was had. I am not going to say that console was rejected by the masses, because that would be untrue. However, I would say that the Xbox One X is the Colecovision of our time and, to be honest, it always will. That's because when it comes to gaming and entertainment, it will always be Sony/Nintendo. 


    The fact and the truth is, the Xbox One X was never a game changer. Even though it had "better" specs than their Sony adversary, there was still no reason to justify spending the $500-$800 (Console+ 4K HDR TV) to experience it's gameplay. Much was said about the Xbox One X's graphics, however, the fact and the truth is that it wasn't so much better. The graphics of the Xbox One X was only slightly, I stress "SLIGHTLY", better. Right now, I see a very bleak future for the Xbox console. There is nothing wrong with the brand, but (let's face it) the Playstation is better.


    People have to know that the Sony division that controls gaming, runs the industry. Microsoft does not. Microsoft can promote PC <--> Console gaming all they want, but consumers won't care. Gamers just want to play their games and they want to do so with their friends. No wonder Microsoft is trying to so hard to get people to do "Game Pass." To be honest, I think that war may be over too, as Sony Playstation Now is far more popular. 


    It seems now that the only purpose the Xbox can ever serve is to make the Playstation better. Whatever ingenous Microsoft comes up with....ya know Sony is going to copy it.


    *Sigh*....I give up!


    • Avatar

      yoshi

      In reply to Bats:

      Thanks for the expert analysis. I guess I'll toss mine in the dumpster.

    • Avatar

      Chris_Kez

      In reply to Bats:

      Can you clarify which "stat" you found surprising, and how it is tremendously bad news for Microsoft? Can you also define what "success" would look like? Finally, can you point to any legitimate analysts that claimed the One X would be a "game changer" (I presume you mean with respect to unit sales)?

    • Avatar

      ecumenical

      In reply to Bats:


      This is completely wrong. From this very article:


      "As for the Sony PlayStation and Microsoft Xbox One, both experienced year-over-year sales and revenue growth in 2018 as well."


      That's very atypical for this late in a generational cycle. Piscatella has repeatedly mentioned how the mid-gen consoles (PS4 Pro and Xbox One X) completely changed the sales curve, turning the standard downward trend into actual sales acceleration through the end of the generation.

  3. Avatar

    warren

    I got a Switch in 2018. It really is great..... though the high prices of games has tempered my enthusiasm somewhat. At least with Steam, they put older games on sale..... Nintendo does not.


    The Switch has a Youtube app now, too. That really adds to its use cases.

  4. Avatar

    Daekar

    It's wild to see numbers like this. My subconscious concept of video games was formed back when only we nerds played them - and they carried a serious social stigma. It blows my mind to think that its closing in on something that 50% of the population does now.

  5. Avatar

    cadrethree

    Hey Brad, are there any plans for Microsoft to ever separate their rumoured streaming box from Xbox and sell it as a competitor to Roku and Amazon Fire TV? Maybe load up all the major gaming services on it?


Leave a Reply