SuperData Research published their monthly digital revenue chart for October so it is time to see what is up in video games. As has become almost standard so far in 2020, their report opens up with another statement about how much video game revenue is up over the previous year.
- 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. Earnings on other platforms rose as well, with mobile up 15% and PC up 10%.
Again, people staying home, or trying to, has led to more consumption on the video game front.
And then there is the chart itself.
On the PC end of the chart the usual top four remain in place, swapping spots but otherwise the same crowd as always. But in fifth position, or the first actually competitive position most months, World of Warcraft shows up. This is not unexpected as the warm up for the Shadowlands expansion was in play.
Then there is Call of Duty: Modern Warfare in sixth and Roblox in seventh spot.
And then we find Crusader Kings III still on the chart for October in spot eight. It is down from fifth spot last month, but the surprise is that it stayed on the chart at all. Games that are not online subscription or cash shop based tend to peak quickly and fade, usually just appearing for a single month. But CK3 breaks the mold again.
That is followed by Fornite and Valorant, while World of Tanks fell off the list again.
On the console column, NBA 2K21 tops the list, followed by FIFA 21. And down at the bottom of the list is Grand Theft Auto V. It has been a regular on the list since it began, can it hold on much longer?
And on the mobile end of the chart Pokemon Go is back at the top of the chart. It passed the 4 billion dollar total revenue mark during the summer and just keeps on going.
Then there is Genshin Impact, which made both the console and mobile charts. SuperData has a bullet point about it:
- Genshin Impact from miHoYo was October’s highest-grossing game. The title, which was released on September 28 on mobile, PlayStation 4 and PC, is an unprecedented international success for a game made by a Chinese developer. Genshin Impact features monetization mechanics commonly found in mobile games like collecting characters through gacha (where users pay for the chance to get random in-game items) and limited-time events. However, gameplay inspired by console role-playing games and action-adventure titles attracted players who may have avoided mobile gacha games in the past.
Last months number one, Free Fire, the shooter title from Singapore, carried on in third position in October.
Perennial list member Candy Crush Saga held on another month, securing seventh position. And down at the bottom of the list is Honour of Kings, which had a run in first place for much of this year. Still, don’t cry for its fall, being in the top ten overall still means it is probably raking in the bucks.
Other bullet points from the SuperData report:
- FIFA 21 sold 1.5M digital units. Compared to the launch month of FIFA 20, launch month digital sales and revenue were both up (1.2M vs. 1.5M for sales). However Electronic Arts had a significantly shorter launch month period in which to sell FIFA 20 since it was released only at the end of September, while FIFA 21 went on sale at the start of October.
- Watch Dogs: Legion from Ubisoft broke franchise records, selling 1.9M digital units. Even though the game was only on sale for the final three days in October, its first month sales were significantly higher than Watch Dogs 2, which was released on November 15, 2016 and sold 431K digital units. The latest game likely benefited from several free giveaways of Watch Dogs 2 earlier in 2020, which built up the franchise’s audience.
- Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time from Activision Blizzard sold 402K digital units, a smaller total than recent remakes of titles in the franchise. Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy sold 520K digital units in June 2017 (it released on the last day of the month), while Crash Team Racing Nitro Fueled sold 552K copies in June 2019. There was likely less pent-up demand for Crash 4 and the title was also released during a more crowded release period than its predecessors. First-month earnings were, however, the highest of modern Crash games since Crash 4 launched at a standard $59.99 price point instead of $39.99, like the recent remakes.
- Star Wars: Squadrons sold 1.1M digital units in October, putting it ahead of the launch of Star Wars: Battlefront II (1.0M) and behind Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order (2.9M).
- The Star Wars IP attracted a sizable audience to the title even though it belonged to the niche space combat subgenre. In contrast to Crash 4, Squadrons earnings were lower than those of other modern Star Wars games given its lower $39.99 price.
- SuperData will now regularly be reporting on the performance of game subscription services, which give users access to a library of premium titles at a fixed monthly price. Publishers and platform holders have invested heavily in Netflix-style subscription services in order to generate recurring revenue. SuperData is currently covering Xbox Game Pass, PlayStation Now and EA Play.* Combined revenue for these services in October was up 142% year-over-year and subscriber numbers rose 113%. Xbox Game Pass accounted for the majority of growth in both cases.