March has become the “stay at home” month for many of us, even in jurisdictions where there has been no official order to do so. Events have been cancelled, movie theaters shut down (drive-ins are back in vogue though), and we are not going out to do many things we might have otherwise.
And so home activities have gone up. Netflix and other streaming services are seeing a boost in activity as are video game platforms. Video game usage is up, Steam has seen a record number of people connected, and XBox Live has fallen over a couple of times due to the sudden surge.
And into this comes the SuperData Research digital revenue chart for February 2020.
In February things were starting up around Covid-19. I was in Portland, Oregon in the middle of the month and once we got back events were starting to get cancelled and the movie box office was already starting to tank.
Unfortunately, we cannot tell much from the main SuperData chart, as it is just a ranking without numbers. The gaps between games as well as any change for a particular game, is unknown and unmarked unless titles change positions or falls off the list.
So we see the usual suspects on the chart. At the PC end, the same top four remain in the same order. CD:GO made it to fifth as Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot had its debut month on the chart then fell off. World of Tanks surged a bit with some updates and events in February. World of Warcraft stayed on the list despite troubles reported last month.
And Fortnite returned to the PC end of the chart. Last month, as Bhagpuss pointed out, Epic Games was bitching to anybody who would listen that the SuperData numbers had to be wrong, though they declined to supply their own numbers and wouldn’t tell us where they thought they should be on the chart or even if they had the data to make that assessment. Basically Tim Sweeney being Tim Sweeney.
As with the PC end of things, the console and mobile columns of the chart, aside from some jockeying for position, remained mostly made up of the same players, with the same titles topping the lists. Jedi: Fallen Order and Pokemon Go both made their way back on to their respective charts.
So it will be interesting to see if, come the March numbers, if any of those mostly static lists change any. Will something new take the public by storm? Animal Crossing: New Horizons maybe? Or will people remain set with their old standbys and just spend more time and money there? Word is that Pokemon Go is already making bank.
The only detail we get is in the bullet points that SuperData provides with their posting. The opening one did say that digital revenue was up:
- Digital games spending totaled $9.2B in February, up 4% year-over-year. Much like in recent months, mobile revenue (up 16% year-over-year) made up for lower console and PC revenue (down 22% and 6%, respectively). A release schedule largely devoid of AAA games resulted in limited spending on console games. In comparison, February 2019 featured the launches of major titles like Anthem and Apex Legends, which contributed to the year-over-year revenue drop across the free-to-play (down 49%) and premium console segments (down 17%).
But that was a small bump and mostly in mobile, while the PC and console were down. But SuperData is not unaware of what is going on in the world and the next three bullet points were related to, or might be related to, the current world situation.
- The spread of COVID-19 had a limited impact on gaming habits in North America and Europe in February, but this is changing. The most significant containment efforts like business shutdowns and travel restrictions did not ramp up until March. Many titles have since had an influx of players and spending as consumers have turned to games as one of the few entertainment options available.
- There are signs Japanese consumers gravitated to games over other activities in February. The Japanese versions of Dragon Ball Z Dokkan Battle and Monster Strike both saw jumps in revenue and user numbers. Dragon Ball Z Dokkan Battle in particular had its Japanese revenue more than triple from $24.8M in January to $78.0M in February.
- Counter-Strike: Global Offensive monthly active user numbers climbed to 24.0M, their highest levels ever. Player counts for the nearly eight-year-old title have trended upward consistently since the switch to a free-to-play business model in December 2018. An update to the game in late November 2019, which featured a battle pass and cosmetic character skins, has resulted in monthly revenue that is approaching the game’s previous all-time peak in July 2017. Despite the renewed interest in the title, its surge in player count may not be sustainable given the runaway success of Call of Duty: Warzone and the pending release of Valorant, an upcoming free-to-play shooter from Riot Games.
I expect that next month their analysis will include their own interpretation as to how COVID-19 has impacted the market.
As has become the custom for this post, I will add the NPD February video games chart. As always, NPD is US only, combines PC and console sales, and doesn’t always include digital sales.
- Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2019 (2)
- NBA 2K20 (6)
- Grand Theft Auto V (5)
- Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot (1)
- Tom Clancy’s The Division 2 (75)
- Mario Kart 8* (8)
- Ring Fit Adventure (9)
- Madden NFL 20 (3)
- Super Smash Bros. Ultimate* (7)
- Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order (4)
* Digital sales not included
The following number is the position the game was in last month. I have tended to ignore that number, but this month I saw that Tom Clancy’s The Division 2 had jumped up from 75th on their list, implying that NPD keeps much more detail than they share.
I will be interested to see how this chart changes next month. If it were physical sales only, it might go completely weird, but as it combines some digital with physical, we might just see Nintendo titles disappear from the mix even as Animal Crossing jumps up onto the SuperData chart.
The remaining bullet points from SuperData:
- A free giveaway of The Sims 4 for PlayStation Plus users led to the title’s console players outnumbering PC users for the first time (2.5M vs. 2.2M). The title has long earned the lion’s share of its revenue from the sale of in-game content, so the giveaway presented a low-risk way to attract new audience members and potentially convert them to spenders down the road.
- The social casino title Coin Master achieved its highest earnings ever ($87.1M) as it rose to eighth place in the mobile revenue charts. The game from publisher Moon Active combines slots gameplay with town-building elements. It now vastly out-earns other mobile social casino titles like Slotomania and DoubleDown Casino and celebrities like Jennifer Lopez have appeared in ads for the title.
And so it goes. We shall see what the March numbers bring and if certain incentives… Blizzard has a 100% xp bonus going for retail WoW right now for example… change anything.